The conversations

30 Nov 1999

As a woman who is very passionate about the cause of women, I felt quite anxious that the good intention of this campaign could be in some way misread. I worried that it could come across as prescriptive, or that it was yet again putting the challenges of being a woman in a patriarchal world on the already overburdened shoulders of women. I worried that this notion of acceptance and self-love might be twisted into something shaming. We worked hard to ensure it was none of those things. We spoke with women, we changed things, we tried again, we spoke with more women.

It was frightening to put in the world, to be honest. And it has most certainly invited conversation. Some people are fiercely supportive and passionate, some are confused and questioning, others outright upset. I guess that’s is what comes from doing something like this, it becomes political, and very personal.

It’s important to know that this thing wasn’t born to harm or shame though, god it was quite the opposite. It was built to nurture women, to celebrate the diversity of our beauty, our skin types, our faces. We wanted it to be something that gave us permission to wake up in the morning and go to work or to the grocery store like our male colleagues and friends. Wearing just our skin without fear of judgement, without ‘are you sick?’ or ‘did you sleep?’. It seems unfair that we have to be smart and beautiful. Hard working and perfectly groomed. Excellent mothers and effortlessly glamorous. When the other half of the planet need only worry that they are adequately attired for the work they do or the life they live. Just smart. Just hard-working. Just human. Of course we can choose to be all that we wish in this world! We can choose to be smart and hard-working and human and beautiful. But it’s different when it’s an expectation. It’s different when we feel anxious to be just as we are.

Makeup can be such a beautiful form of self-expression, a way to represent how we feel, to play, to dress up, much like clothing. That’s something I feel fiercely about. And not something we want to take away here. But imagine if we approached makeup as just that, as just an expression of self.

Maybe after a few weeks without cover, with a face un-changing, we could look in the mirror in the morning at our real face and see something familiar, something nice. Maybe we could love our baseline and then makeup or down or whatever we feel from there, because it’s a pleasure, not because it’s an expectation.

Imagine if we all marched fearlessly into the world on occasion with our faces just as they are – red, blemished, tired, freckled, pale, uncontoured, unhighlighted. Imagine if our differences became celebrated, or at least normalised. Imagine how a 13 year old girl with acne might feel about her face if the women in her world and on her Instagram feed looked not so different from her. Maybe she would feel seen. Maybe she would feel like one of many women. Maybe she would feel like this isn’t an affliction that she has to suffer through. Maybe she wouldn’t be bullied. Maybe she would remember her heart and head are what make her beautiful.

Spending just a month without makeup might offer us an opportunity to question some of this stuff. To understand what it is to love ourselves both with and without makeup. To see if this seemingly insignificant daily ritual impacts how we think or feel in any way. And perhaps more importantly, to know what it is to give up something not entirely necessary, to offer something quite necessary to another woman or girl.

That’s what we’re hoping for.

But it is loaded. All of this, and it should be. And we should keep talking about it, what it means, whether it is important, maybe it’s not!

The most important thing is that we’re in this together, as women. We’re not against anyone. Everyone is entitled to wear their faces exactly as they wish. No one has to participate, and no would should ever feel shamed for their choices. Let’s just keep talking and sharing and loving each other. We’re good at that.