Recently, Hillary Clinton made headlines because she appeared in public without makeup.
Yes, you read that right. The highest ranking female official in our nation made headlines because she didn’t wear makeup. Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report commented that Hillary must have “forgotten” her makeup, as if makeup were some essential thing us ladies can’t ever leave the house without, like keys or a wallet. Of course, Fox News picked up on the story, adding fuel to the fire. The rest of us are left shocked and appalled that anyone cares that Hillary Clinton — a living, breathing human who has flaws on her facial skin — didn’t wear makeup on one day of her life.
The fact of the matter is that, in our society where we are constantly barraged with images that are so photoshopped we question whether or not they are real, it is no wonder that we criticize women for not covering up their flaws. We’re not supposed to have flaws at all, if the magazines and billboards are to be believed. The fact that the beauty industry rakes in $160 billion per year shows that women of all ages are buying into the beauty norms society has placed on us.
Fair and Feminist’s Shelly Blair has had enough. She is sponsoring a campaign called “This is What a FACE Looks Like,” where she is asking everyone to change their social media profile pictures to one of them without makeup for two days on May 17-18. It is a bold move that has been a long time coming, and at the heart of the issue is putting images out into society that have women looking like, well, real women. When asked for a statement about the campaign, she told me:
I’m organizing this campaign to fight back against the criticism Hillary received for going out in public without makeup. I want to inspire women all over to show their faces without makeup to emphasize the fact that what’s on the inside is more important than what is on the outside and raise awareness about the everyday sexism women experience. Beauty standards are socially constructed and if we all decide to care less about the way we look, it would change society’s expectations. This campaign is one step in that direction. It’s a reminder to me, my nieces, and my friends that women deserve respect no matter what they look like.
Earlier this year, before this nonsense with Hillary Clinton, I asked a group of my female students if they would consider coming to school without makeup for a day. The responses were varied and ranged from concern that people would think they were feeling sick or make fun of them to outright refusal to show their bare faces. We did it, though, and the girls were all glowing at the end of the day when they realized that few people cared whether or not they were wearing makeup. Some even came without makeup a few other days that week because they felt it was such a great feeling to not have to deal with putting it on in the morning.
With Hillary making news for this, however, I worry that my students will regress to their old worries and feel the need to wear makeup every day for fear of being criticized as Hillary was. I think it is important for girls like my students to see images of real women with real faces to help them feel unashamed to be themselves, and this is why I will be participating in Shelly’s campaign. Will you?
Photo Credit: Jennie Faber