Over the last week or the so the #nomakeupselfie has reached my little corner of the social media world. The first I heard about it was a facebook friend suggesting that it was ridiculous and that if people really wanted to make a difference then getting actively involved in fighting cancer in some way would be more beneficial. I then saw wall posts from other, unconnected, friends praising the awareness raising and wondering how boys could join in.

Throughout this I’ve kept quiet. I’ve not ‘liked’ any comments or pictures in relation to this and have been trying to work out what I think.

The reason for this is two-fold. Firstly, I have a fairly heightened awareness of cancer, think this should be the case for more people and am up for anything that helps. However, secondly, and possibly more pertinently, I have a tricky relationship with make-up myself.

Many of the women (on my timeline that’s who it’s been) who have got cross with this trend (until recently it wasn’t really a campaign) are people whose feminist world-view is one I heartily share. However, they are also people who have spoken about how they don’t really wear make-up and think that a picture of a woman not wearing any shouldn’t be seen as brave or even unusual. This is also a sentiment I agree with and yet, every day before leaving the house I put on a full face of make-up.

This is something I’ve done since I was about 15. I can still remember the first day I used my mum’s mascara before going into school and my friends noticing (they were surprised rather than impressed it should be noted). I have always been insecure, particularly about my appearance. Despite being in Scouts, being the only girl to take GCSE CDT and being loud about the importance of feminism I got sucked in to the rules about how you should look (according to Just 17 and the like). Peer pressure you may think, but my wonderful group of friends didn’t care about things like that and from memory only one of my female friends wore any kind of make-up when we were at school. There were obviously other girls in my year who wore lots of make-up and set lots of store by this so I assume I must have been trying to make sure they didn’t think I was any weirder than they already thought?

I have been through phases when I’ve worn more make-up on a daily basis  than I do now and others where I’ve tried to wear less, but I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been out without make-up on since the age of 18 and that’s pretty scary.

So, what are my reasons for wearing it now, as a power tool wielding, independent feminist? This is what I’ve come up with:

  1. I still get spots. They are better when I’m on the pill, but I always have at least one painfully brewing and a few healing. Rightly or wrongly (wrongly) I worry that unless they are disguised people are going to see me as being dirty and a slob.
  2. One of the only things I like about my face (and I cringe typing that) is that my eyes are OK. However, they look bigger and more defined with mascara and eye liner and I’d rather people focussed there so eye make-up is a big thing for me.
  3. I have issues with sleep and make-up disguises a little bit of the knock on effect of that (pasty rather than just pale skin, bags under the eyes etc etc)

I am embarrassed and slightly ashamed that as a moderately intelligent 34 year old, with a fantastic set of friends (who even if they noticed I wasn’t wearing make-up wouldn’t judge me for it) I’m still influenced by a combination of insecurity and feelings of inadequacy in relation to people I think look lovely.

I try quite hard to make it look like I’m not wearing too much make-up (and to be honest by lunchtime I’m probably not), but to give you an idea this is the bare minimum I have on when leaving for work in the morning:

Foundation, concealer, eye colour corrector, powder, nuetral eye shadow, eye liner, mascara, lip balm.
Foundation, concealer (not pictured), eye colour corrector, powder, nuetral eye shadow, eye liner, mascara, lip balm.

If going out you can add in a couple more shades of eye shadow, blusher, highlighter and possibly coloured lip gloss (not keen on my mouth so don’t want to draw attention).

Having taken some before and after photos this morning, it’s laughable how little difference it makes unless you know what you’re looking for, but the difference it makes to how I feel about myself is massive, which is something that probably needs addressing.

So, here you go. Before and after:


The light is slightly different as I had breakfast between the two. I also don’t understand why pictures taken on this phone make me come out looking significantly different to the me I see in the mirror (don’t remember this from my last phone – odd)…

In case you’re struggling to see the fruits of my labours, and I’m only partly blaming the rubbish lighting for that, here are some clues (click to see an image where you can read the text!):

I’m not really sure what the point is that I’m making (which is poor given the number of words I’ve used), but I think a lot of this article makes sense (and a lot of my friends are doing this or both): http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/the-no-makeup-selfie-craze-is-just-narcissism-masked-as-charity-9202929.html

As for me, I probably need to worry less and try again to reduce the amount of make-up I wear. I’m currently giving dyeing my hair a break to see how I look as the greys take over, but somehow that feels different. Make-up has a greater hold over me and I either need to decide that I’m making myself look a certain way because I find it aesthetically pleasing (rather than to gain acceptance) or to not wear it. A life without mascara though…. not sure I’ll manage it. Funny old thing self-esteem.

Thanks for reading and please do pop along here and donate regardless of how much make-up you are or aren’t wearing: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/support-us/donate