Right now I’m wearing the season’s hottest beauty look: no makeup. Well, not no makeup. About 60% of my eyebrows are fake. I fill those in every day and mess them up a little with a cheap lip gloss. It’s my favorite trick, except for when it rains and I end up smearing one of them halfway across my temple. Note to self: Buy some waterproof shit before beach season. Yikes.
I’m also wearing a microscopically thin line of liquid liner on my top lash line. But other than that, nothing! Except for the SPF 45 sunscreen I’m wearing on my forehead and around my eyes. The rest of my face is just wearing coconut oil, because I’m really into this shiny skin look right now. It’s like practice for summer in New York City, when it’s too hot to wear foundation without it melting off your face and dripping onto your shoes.
As someone who works in fashion and lives on the internet, I’ve definitely noticed a tendency towards women not caking on layers of makeup. So, apparently, has the New York Times, which has discovered that some women don’t wear it and has written about this for a new trend piece.
“A new beauty standard,” they call it.
More like “a new monocle” – a new thing for the internet to get obsessed about.
Basically every single thing I find annoying about the #nomakeup debate is summed up in the second paragraph:
“In what is perhaps a bid for that modern buzzword “authenticity,” celebrities like Beyoncé and Gwyneth Paltrow post selfies, proudly barefaced, sometimes with the hashtag #nomakeup. Slate suggested the no-makeup “trend” may be linked to normcore, a questionable fashion movement inspired by a suburban aesthetic, while other commentators think it’s a balance between pragmatism and feminism.”
So wearing no makeup is either: A new way to humblebrag about the fact your awesome face doesn’t require concealer, a new fashion trend for people so cool they need to actively resist being cool, or, of course, something to do with feminism. Couldn’t it just be that you accidentally left your foundation in your boyfriend’s bathroom? No, silly woman, choose a, b, or c! (Unless you left it in his bathroom to assert to your claim over his territory, you sly thing.)
What seems utterly incomprehensible is that women exist who simply don’t wear a lot of makeup The writer, Bee Shapiro, focuses heavily on Leandra Medine, who wrote piece on The Man Repeller a few weeks ago on why she doesn’t wear makeup. The article was apparently so popular it crashed the website. (It also apparently took her 20 minutes to write, a claim which coming from anyone else would have been the equivalent of a #nomakeupselfie taken after 45 minutes in the bathroom, but which coming from her I totally believe because she seems to be as ridiculously awesome fucking talented as she is unequivocally indifferent to makeup. Though in the picture she is clearly wearing lipstick and eyeliner.)
“I don’t necessarily see my not wearing makeup as a social comment or that it’s because I work in a female-dominated industry,” she tells Shapiro. “I don’t say in the morning, ‘Look Leandra, here are a bunch of women, put that bronzer down.’ It’s more that I’m busy and whatever helps you get out the door and go to sleep easier.”
But Leandra has never worn much makeup. Emily Weiss of Into the Gloss gets a few column inches too, another person who has never worn much obvious makeup. In the inset picture is French Vogue editor Emmanuelle Alt, who I have also pretty much never seen wearing makeup. See how this is a fashion trend? Me neither! British Vogue didn’t put Nigella Lawson on the cover in “no makeup” because it’s the new look for summer. Rosamund Pike didn’t wipe her makeup off for W because foundation is last season. They just thought of classier ways to play off our obsession with women’s flaws than People mag usually does.
Another thing these women all have in common is that they all have striking looks. Like normcore, the effectiveness of #nomakeup depends a little on lighting and a lot on the arrangement of your DNA. If you’re tall, thin, with stand-out features, a blank t-shirt and a bare face will only make that more obvious. If, like me, you often have blotchy skin, sparse eyebrows, and sensitive (read: bloodshot) eyes, it doesn’t come off like a sweeping fashion statement.
I think wearing less makeup, for me, simply has to do with growing older. I’ll turn 27 this year, which isn’t old, but it is 27 years of looking at my own face in the mirror. Until the age of around 23 I used to wear two kinds of foundation to go to the beach and fake eyelashes because it was Friday. For me, part of becoming an adult is coming to terms with what my face actually looks like. (Though I still hate my eyebrows.) Never before has it been possible to share that with the entire world using one hashtag and an Instagram post. And as the selfie generation grows older, perhaps this just a side effect.
One thing it definitely has absolutely nothing to do with is feminism. This debate makes me want to rip out the few eyebrow hairs I do have in rage. If I wear makeup at all, it’s for the same reason I wear ridiculous shoes – to make myself feel more powerful and to impress other women. Do you think the woman who put a poo in an ex’s cornflakes got a lifetime MAC account to fulfill the expectations of males? A far more interesting thing to delve into would be why men don’t wear makeup. If I was a guy would be pissed that it’s fine for women do it without being ridiculed while their #wokeuplikethis face has to be the one they actually did wake up with.
The one good thing about not wearing makeup being a trend is that trends pass, and then we can all finally stop being so utterly consumed by it.