To you and I, today is the 20th day of November and one week from Thanksgiving vacation. But one group of Christian women and girls, today is the 20th day of not wearing any makeup to revel in their natural beauty. No Makeup November is a project of Rave Ministries, which hopes “that for one month kids, teens, mothers, and grandmothers will relish every opportunity possible to see the true beauty that God has breathed in them.”
I don’t agree with the Christian teachings behind No Makeup November — namely, that God created us in his image; vanity is bad, etc. But the other reasons for Rave Ministries’ project, which is in its second year, are the same arguments you would read if No Makeup November had been organized by feminist activists instead. Christians see the status quo as not honoring God’s creation of natural beauty. Feminists see the status quo of the profit-driven, fear-based control of women via their perceived sexual value. Both can agree: Our physical appearance is not what’s most important. The beauty industry is a billion dollar business. The average woman spends thousands every year to look good.
Blogger Carrie Murphy at The Gloss took a somewhat more critical, “I choose my choice!”-inspired viewpoint of No Makeup November:
Many women wear makeup and cosmetics because it makes them feel confident, assertive, happy, pretty, put together, polished, strong … the list goes on. Not every woman is motivated to wear makeup to fit into society’s exacting beauty standards. Honestly, your relationship with makeup is your business; It shouldn’t matter to anywhere when you do or do not wear it, how much you wear, or what your reasons are for doing so, so I’m a little bothered by the underlying assumption of No Makeup November that makeup is somehow masking or obscuring womens’ true natures.
As a huge makeup fan and sometime makeup-wearer myself, I agree with Murphy that playing with makeup is sometimes just about having fun. I do truly do love playing with makeup when I have the time and feeling girly while doing so. But I’m not naive why I enjoy the kudos I get for looking pretty. All of us are affected by society’s beauty standards somehow, no matter how stringently we may try to combat or avoid them, because the forces trying to make us feel insecure about ourselves are far-reaching and powerful. Certainly it shouldn’t matter whether or not women wear makeup, but it still does. (In fact, I actually have a calendar from a beauty company sitting on my desk and it actually says on the November page, “Want a raise? Wear lipstick.”) Made-up faces are tied in all kinds of ways to our cultural beliefs about value, youth, health, and professionalism in ways that actively hurt women.
So, as someone who fairly regularly gets comments and even emails on my What Are We Wearing Today? posts suggesting that I wear more makeup (seriously), I commend these No Makeup November ladies for their project.
Email me at Jessica@TheFrisky.com. Follow me on Twitter.