The Week of No Makeup Challenge

I ran across an announcement for the Week of No Makeup Challenge, which asks women to see what happens if they go for a week without makeup. The intention is to offer the opportunity for women to explore their relationship to cosmetics, which seems to me to be a great idea. As the author puts it, when it becomes a necessity rather than an option, it loses its spark.

At the same time, it’s worth acknowledging that makeup-free women tend to get judged differently. According to the post on Jezebel, “A study online claims that 8 out of 10 women prefer their female colleagues to wear makeup and the same number of women said they would rather employ a woman who wore makeup than one who didn’t.” Whether these numbers come from an informal survey or an actual research project, it is clear from the comments that there are a lot of different relationships with makeup.


When I studied postgraduate, I decided to forgo all of it. And I wore my glasses (clear Raybans!) Honestly, I barely got any male attention. Then I got a new hairstyle, put the contacts back in, and returned to a full-face of product… and I got a lot of attention. And dates. That still bothers me, because I hate to think that it takes all sorts of liquids and powders and schmutz to get noticed.


I could give up everything but under eye coverup. I don’t want to be mistaken for a zombie, even if it’s just for a week.


I will come out and say it: I am actually scared to not wear makeup. I have acne, and even my “no makeup at all” occasions (working out, running down the street to the grocery store, etc.) involve concealer. Having been mocked constantly for zits as a kid till my mom relented and let me wear concealer, I have no desire to repeat the experience.


At least in my professional sphere, I feel that makeup wearing is used symbolically, to show that you are “on”. We don’t tend to wear power suits or traditional corporate wear in my office, but some makeup, along with neat and polished hair, seems to transmit the message that you are together, organized, and ready to take on projects.


I could never do this. I’ve tried. It didn’t go so well. I tried to go one day without wearing my usual eyeliner, and I… couldn’t do it. I got to school and after about an hour I just about had an anxiety attack and had to head to the nearest restroom as fast as I could to apply.


I understand that the point of these articles is to get women who wear makeup daily to think about their use of it. But from where I sit, “no makeup week” is every week. To me makeup is like, part of formal wear or something.

What do you think? If you regularly wear makeup for personal or professional reasons, what would it be like to not do it for a week? Are you up for the challenge?


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