A part of me is a little bit relieved – because I thought the percentage was actually going to be higher. But still upset – 44% of women feel unattractive without makeup. That’s nearly half. Nearly one in two women. Damn. This statistic came from a Harris poll conducted on behalf of the Renfrew Center Foundation (a nonprofit organization advancing the education, prevention, research, and treatment of eating disorders) to show our increasing dependency on products to boost our self esteem. When asked the reasons why women cannot go without makeup, these answers were given:

  • 16% of women polled felt unattractive when not wearing cosmetics
  • 14% felt self-conscious without makeup
  • 14% felt naked without makeup

Twenty-five percent of the women polled have worn makeup since they were 13 or younger. Wow. “Wearing makeup to enhance one’s appearance is normal in our society and often a rite of passage for young women,” Adrienne Ressler, the Renfrew Center’s national training director, said in a statement:

“There is concern, however, when makeup no longer becomes a tool for enhancement but, rather, a security blanket that conceals negative feelings about one’s self-image and self-esteem.”

When you notice women wearing full makeup in situations where it is impractical (such as at a gym or beach), the “security blanket” statement that Adrienne makes is really apparent. Women should absolutely want to look their best and feel confident about their appearance. However, makeup companies and advertisements are pushing products in a way that causes women to feel as if their natural beauty is not enough – and unfortunately, women are believing it. It becomes so completely ironic that we create makeup so that we look “natural.”

Something I’ve stumbled upon recently is The Naked Face Project. Basically, two women go sixty days without putting on any makeup (as well as no shaving or primping rituals). At first I thought it was just  going to be some shallow “30 days without washing hair”- type experiment, until I read their mission. Here is what they had to say on their website, on why they’re doing the project:

“Why do you wear makeup?” the eight year-old asked. “Because it’s fun!” we inevitably answer. But when we really get honest, that’s simply not the truth. We both work for organizations that promote a message of inner beauty, empowerment, and self-confidence, and we still engage in Beauty Habits – like makeup, shaving, and wearing uncomfortable feminine clothing . We’ve believed for years that these habits would enhance our appearance. After much discussion, we found the difference between what we preach and how we choose to act on a day-to-day basis troubling. We’ve often said, “I need to go fix my face,” but really – what is there to fix? This is our journey to explore what happens when we start living in complete alignment with the message we encourage others to live by. We do not know where The Naked Face Project will take us. We do not have a hypothesis we hope to prove or know how we will feel at the end of sixty days. We’re not trying to make a political or feminist statement. We simply want to live in our own space of authentic beauty and be more intentional in our actions. That’s why we’ve chosen to completely commit ourselves in the project for sixty days. It is only through this total immersion that we believe we will come to a more authentic answer for the hard questions little girls ask. Honestly, we expect The Naked Face Project to be very uncomfortable for us because we’ve engaged in these Beauty Habits for so long. We feel like we’ve only approached feminine beauty in one way for our entire lives. What might reveal itself when we give ourselves the opportunity to experience another way?

One of the women – Caitlin Boyle – is actually the founder of Operationbeautiful.com, which is a FABULOUS body image/self esteem movement. The other woman is Molly Barker, founder of Girls on the Run. We’ll absolutely be following up on their progress. If you would like to participate in the project, you can! Visit the Gallery of Faces for directions on contacting them, and definitely browse through the other natural beauties!