This spring a viral campaign infiltrated Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and forced us to look at the way we share our images on those three mediums. It was a controversial campaign that was ultimately revealed as a marketing stunt for cancer awareness, which infuriated some and amused others. Some rallied behind it as a message about female beauty standards, while others (myself included) saw it as a negative statement on women's beauty choices.
I'm of course talking about the #NoMakeupSelfie
We live in an era of viral stunts for 'awareness', November for example is a month dedicated to moustaches for Movember, this summer the internet was taken by storm for the Ice Bucket Challenge, but there's something about the No Makeup Selfie that I've always had a hard time shaking.
The obsession with women in their 'natural state' is nothing new. It's what fuels 'Celebrities without makeup' editions of Us Weekly and People Magazine. It's the fodder of countless Buzzfeed articles, and it fits with our obsession over 'no retouching' of photographs. We feel entitled to see women as they really are and not how a magazine editor decides their neck and hands and thighs should look.
So it's no surprise that when celebrities post their own No Makeup Selfies it's almost as a gesture or act of authenticity and inclusiveness. Megan Fox started her Instagram account this summer with one, Beyonce's done a few, most recently last month and Gwyneth Paltrow has done it on numerous occasions. It's a way for women with strong branding to show their fans and followers that they indeed are real, to reveal their own self.
But the problem with the #NoMakeupSelfie is that it is just another example of the double edged sword when that women face when it comes to their appearance.
Here's a question for the guys and the girls: How many times has a friend, colleague, co-worker or family member asked if you look 'tired'?
Now just a question for the ladies: How many times was it simply because you wore makeup one day and didn't the next?
There are countless articles, and experiments and studies that talk about this beauty conundrum. That women should wear makeup, shouldn't wear makeup, or that they shouldn't need to feel that they need to wear makeup. There's a lot of assumptions about what it means if you do wear makeup or what it means if you don't. Men and women both say they prefer women looking 'natural', but 'natural' makeup looks are often even more complicated than regular makeup!
I think my weariness with the #NoMakeupSelfie and the 'natural makeup' trend-wave is that it's another 'movement' that boosts one standard of beauty while denouncing another. I'm tired of the nitpicking over plastic surgery or contouring or 'fakery'. I'm tired of people criticizing women at work who 'try too hard' because they look nice, or 'should really pull it together' because they don't wear enough. Natural is touted as 'refreshing' but only because we've gotten to the point where we resent women who try to look different.
It's all very exhausting.
Makeup and beauty are ways to express yourself, don't let other people's concepts of what is 'beautiful' impact your enjoyment of yourself. Your beauty is for your enjoyment, anybody elses is a bonus, and anybody who says anything negative can shake it off. .