Women have been bombarded by the media since the end of WW1 with an ideal image of femininity to aspire towards if they wish to fit in with society. Through film, adverts and the launch of beauty innovations the norm of wearing makeup is something the majority of women have adhered to ever since. The recent viral campaign of “no make-up selfie” has proved this is still very much the case, in the 21st Century however it’s not just your partner or those in the real world you have to look socially acceptable for, but also your entire social network.
The no makeup selfie was initially started by author Laura Lippman, after she tweeted a bare faced picture in solidarity with 82 year old Kim Novak, who was attacked in the press for her natural, ageing appearance at the Oscars. The idea was then hijacked to “raise awareness of cancer,” but following criticism that this was a façade and not actively helping to beat cancer, girls began to post screen shots of their text donations alongside their selfie. The movement has now raised over £2 million for Cancer Research and Anthony Nolan had a 400% increase on their bone marrow donor register, which proves ultimately the selfies have had a positive backlash. However, another criticism has arisen around the selfie craze related to the act of going online bare faced. Many have questioned why it is such a big taboo to appear online makeup-less. Why is it such a shock to break this social norm of showing your internet friends what you really look like?
Many posted their selfies alongside captions such as “sorry to scare you” and “apologies you have to see my ugly face” – but girls why are you apologising for what you really look like? Though a minority of comments from males have been mocking and insensitive, there has also been a large portion admiring girls in their natural state. For example some twitter users commented “Girls look 19379563 times better in these no makeup selfies!” and “The majority of girls that I have seen upload no make-up selfies, look 10 times better than when they have it on! #NaturalisBetter.” Bearing in mind the positive response, what’s reinforcing this narrow-minded and shallow custom upon women to make them feel the need to apologise for their appearance?
Today’s society is submerged in a culture of glossy magazines, housing photo-shopped images of body perfection and endless products marketed as flaw erasers and beauty enhancers. The moment a celebrity is papped slightly less preened than is deemed acceptable, they are slated and ridiculed in the press. Take for example this Daily Mail article, which shows “what lies beneath” a celebrities “war paint,” with unpleasant captions such as “Downton shabby” and “Cameron loses her Diaz-zle” underneath photos of celebrities on a makeup free day. In some of the images where celebrities are “makeup free,” they are clearly still wearing some makeup and look beautiful natural, yet they are labelled by the Mail as “scary.” Negative press like this creates an environment where there is no representation of women in the media bare faced and natural, as its not classed as socially acceptable.
It is no wonder that females feel the need to apologise for their makeup-less appearance if it is seen as socially unacceptable in today’s society. This culture seems set to continue unless the press alters its stance on the “acceptable” female image. What is even more disheartening is that girls are starting to wear makeup and worry about their body image at an alarmingly young age. In America, 53% of 13 year old girls in America are “unhappy with their bodies.”
The “no makeup selfie” has caused huge amounts of criticism, praise, money for charity and questions about the role social media in society. Some have labelled girls as “brave” for posting pictures online makeup free, which has caused many to query why it is still a social norm to be full faced online and in the real world. If you wish to wear heavy amounts of makeup, wear it, if you wish to wear none, wear none. It’s not an act of bravery to show the world what you really look like online, but it is a decision you should be able to make for yourself without the heavy influence of a negative media.