I don't know about you, but I rarely leave the house without makeup. I've even submitted to the mighty makeup brush on occasion before my morning run -- the one time of day I usually dare to step foot in public without brightening my (pale) cheeks with blush or lengthening my lashes with some mascara. My blemishes beg to be blotted out before facing the other early morning runners, and I oblige.
It seems that many of you feel much the same way. In fact, a study conducted by The Renfrew Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing and treating eating disorders and improving body image, showed that almost half of women have negative feelings about themselves when they don't wear makeup. Survey respondents reported feeling unattractive (16 percent), self-conscious (14 percent), and naked (14 percent) without it.
I have to admit I feel self-conscious in public without makeup, too. But rather than dwell on my ordinary dependency on cosmetics, I tend to focus on the way they empower me to put my best foot -- or face that is -- forward; I feel pretty, confident, and unstoppable with glossy lips and rosy cheeks.
Should I feel badly about this?
I consider the bare faces of my Women's Studies professors back in college. I envy the way they wore their own, natural features with such self-assured poise, and I fear that I'm submitting to a norm I should reject. Do I really have to buy my beauty from cosmetics counters and pop culture?
Makeup, unlike boob jobs and Botox, has been around for centuries. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans adorned themselves with cosmetics, and there's talk of makeup in the Old Testament. But these days, Adrienne Ressler, Director of The Renfrew Center tells me, rather than serving simply as a tool for enhancement as it did way back when, makeup has become a mask that women hide behind, covering up not just breakouts or under-eye bags but gross miscalculations of self-worth and negative beliefs about body image.
Though makeup makes me feel polished -- it doesn't diminish my self-worth as much as it promotes it -- there's certainly a fine line between harmless and harmful embellishment. We can all name a friend or sister crushed by our cultural cosmetic imperatives: The girl that loses the true treasures of her identity and never feels pretty enough in her own skin. Though I fall somewhere in the middle of the long continuum -- from those who reject mainstream notions of beauty to those who mask themselves in makeup -- I still struggle with my makeup makes me pretty attitude. I know that my real beauty is in my spirit -- it's in my resilience, my kindness, love and grace. So why the frequent spending sprees at Sephora?
In an effort to start this dialogue, and to encourage women to celebrate their inner beauty, The Renfrew Center is sponsoring a national campaign called Barefaced & Beautiful, Without & Within. To show your support for the campaign, The Renfrew Center is asking women to go without makeup -- or at least less than normal -- on Monday, February 27th. And if you're comfortable, they're encouraging you to promote your participation by tweeting a bare-faced photo or changing your Facebook profile picture to one of your natural self.
I'm going to join the campaign and walk out of the house on the 27th sans make up ... well less of it, at least. I won't try to look like the girls in the glossy magazines or the impeccable women that flash across my TV screen every night. I'll look like me. And I'll celebrate it.
Are you with me?
To learn about The Renfrew Center and find out more about more about the Barefaced & Beautiful, Without & Within campaign, go to: http://www.renfrewcenter.com/
To read more from Alexis, go to: www.alexissclamberg.com