Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Bitch all you want: #nomakeupselfie is the most women you've ever seen without makeup

The backlash to #nomakeupselfie was predictable: from people upset about the attention cancer gets over other awful diseases, to those who are convinced selfies of any kind = narcissism = downfall of civilisation.

Well I don't have a huge amount to offer the debate that hasn't been said already. But just remember this, world: this brief charity internet craze has shown you and I more women without makeup in the same 48hrs than we've ever seen.

And that's as good thing, by the way.

In general, women wear makeup on a daily basis: usually to the office, always to a party, sometimes to the gym, always to an interview, etc.

And let's be clear, this isn't about creative expression. It sometimes is a creative expression. But as a guy who wears makeup occasionally, let me confirm this: no-one expects guys to wear makeup, so I can generally do it however the fuck I like.

The pressure and expectation for women to wear makeup on a daily basis is about looking conventionally pretty, and looking "normal".

So we live in a time where most people have no clue what women look like without makeup on.

And it's a circular situation. Because no-one wants to be the one who stops, and then gets called ugly.

Maybe it's just most men who don't know - after all, women generally learn from a young age how to put on conventional makeup, so they probably have a better idea how to recognise it.

And maybe this age has been going on for decades or centuries - the art of artifice goes back a long way in many cultures.

But this is the 21st century and we like to think we have freedom and individual choice. And that doesn't mean the freedom for women to either conform to society's bullshit double standards - men shouldn't ever wear makeup, and women should always look pretty - or get called "tired" and "ugly".

If you can appreciate the difference, I'm not arguing against makeup. Maybe we could do with more makeup overall, in all the ways and places it's lacking - like the massive gulf between makeup (anywhere) and face paint (only for circus performers and 3-year-olds).

Personally, I put it on - mostly just eyeliner, usually for gigs and dates - because it's fun. Makeup should be fun. It should be fun and expressive and creative, for men and women. And it should be a choice.

But really, it's neither of these things. Makeup is mostly about looking conventionally feminine, pretty and "normal", and for most women it's an obligation, not a choice.

Posting a picture of yourself without makeup on shouldn't be a noteworthy act. It certainly shouldn't be shocking enough to deserve the backlash we've seen in the media and online.

But until we live in a world where most people just shrug, instead of firing off a barrage of angry abuse, I think #nomakeupselfie is a small but welcome step in rejecting makeup as a pressure and making it a choice.

(Oh, and it raised a bunch of money for cancer research too. Which isn't a bad thing, by the way.)

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