Every once in a while I see a gossip magazine showcasing paparazzi photos of celebrities without makeup. Scandal! they seem to suggest. Oh, the gall these celebs have to set foot outdoors without makeup!
Of course, we women know how silly this is. Few among us can claim never to have left our homes barefaced. Why shouldn't the celebs do the same? Far from finding these famous makeup-free candids shocking, I actually find them really refreshing.
I remember when Iggy Azalea made headlines in 2014; or, rather, Snoop Dogg made headlines for publicly berating her on social media for being caught on camera without makeup. To me, Azalea looked great barefaced. Her obvious gumption and confidence made her even more attractive.
Last May, Alicia Keys got everyone talking when she declared she was over makeup. Since then she has appeared au naturel on her album cover, on TV, at awards shows, and even in a few magazine spreads. In fact, the past several months have seen celebs such as Adele, Gabrielle Union, Kim Kardashian, and more all making major public appearances or social media posts free from makeup, causing many news outlets to claim there's a bonafide movement happening.
At the end of the day, it's up to each of us, individually, to decide how we like to express ourselves—be it barefaced or otherwise. But here's why I love that stars are embracing their subtler sides.
01. Thinking outside the box is refreshing.
I have nothing against makeup and am a happy frequent wearer. But women get so much pressure today to look and act a certain way, that I can't help but be tickled when I see women taking the path less traveled.
Perhaps it's for the same reason that I laughed so heartily when I saw Amy Schumer's hilarious critique on our confusing makeup culture. Wear the latest makeup, all the advertisements say. You don't need makeup, the boy bands croon. It feels like a women can never win. Hence, it's refreshing to see these women in the spotlight doing their own thing and making no apologies along the way.
02. Celebrities are human, too.
Seeing an un-made-up celeb can be jarring at first glance, sure. We're used to seeing these faces shellacked and shined for the cameras, after all. In fact, much of what we see in media is Photoshopped and very far from natural. But when I see celebrity faces without makeup, I'm heartened to see a real human being. Sure, they probably spend a lot more money on facial products than I do and they can afford an indulgent facial (the likes of which many only dream of), but I still see a human face. Often I see more emotion, more humility. Just look at Alicia Keys without makeup: She's got the knowing smile of your best friend, which, in my view, is more powerful than any impeccable goddess look created by contouring, strobing, and all the other high-impact makeup trends happening today.
03. Caring what others think all the time is exhausting.
Just like wearing the right dress for the right occasion, wearing makeup is often a considerate and perfectly respectable practice. But on the rare occasion you see someone living just fine without it, a light bulb goes off. I think these moments offer a small but profound truth: Who we are inside is more important than outward appearances. In our day of Instagram utopia, where everything is curated, filtered, and staged, it's quite impressive to see a woman defying the media-fueled norms and choosing to act only for herself and not because of some expectation or pressure.
04. Going without makeup isn’t as hard as it seems.
I recently lost my makeup bag and went a full week before I found it. At first, this was an atrocity; I was almost afraid to go out in public. While I typically wear minimal makeup, my totally makeup-free face (in my own mind at least) looks very different: sleep deprived, immature, and, thanks to my extreme paleness, even sickly. On days when I haven't worn makeup, family members have been known to ask if I'm alright. So when I found myself without my products, I was at first harried, cursing under my breath about it and searching for the makeup bag nonstop like an addict. The third and fourth days, I'd roll my eyes at the mirror. But by the end of the week, I actually got used to my face. I realized I didn't look that bad at all, actually; it was just a different look than I was used to.
I worked up my comfort level to the point that I attended a group event at someone's house and didn't wear makeup—a real milestone for me. I realized how, for these celebrities too, it must have been challenging to go out barefaced, perhaps feeling a bit vulnerable. When I finally found my makeup bag, I was happy I'd lost it, for no other reason than to remind myself that I could, in fact, live without it.
05. Natural is a beauty all its own.
My own makeup-free torture-week-turned-gift taught me something. Underneath all our outward efforts to present ourselves well—healthy and good as these things remain—we are also beautiful, naturally as we are. We don't need to apologize for showing our bare faces among our girlfriends. Most of what makes makeup look good on us, anyway, is how it highlights our unique features—things that makeup didn't create. We've been rewired to think that this isn't the case, that a great mascara and lipstick are the keys to happiness, but they aren't, and the confidence of a makeup-free woman is powerful and inspiring. I've gotten to a point where I truly find women's un-made-up faces very beautiful, not shocking or less than. And I think, as evidenced by the buzz around the 2017 Pirelli calendar, with its un-retouched, raw vibe, more and more people are seeing this, too.
Photo Credit: Adele