This week, for various reasons involving late alarms and early starts, I haven’t worn make-up. This doesn’t bother me particularly, though I will occasionally catch sight on myself in a reflection and before I can stop it, the thought “god, you look HAGGARD” pops into my head.
I don’t, really - I am just not wearing make-up that makes my eyebrows and eyelashes visible (the pains of dark hair with pale lashes and brows, I am permanently surprised in photos unless I lash it on) and I am not wearing lipstick. Rather than look haggard I look a bit like I peered over the grill with a little too much gusto, thus eradicating all facial hair.
This is what we are told every day in the press, though. No make-up is haggard. Obviously, if you are wearing “natural” make-up (not that natural though, really, is it?) you are okay. The foundation/concealer/mascara/rosy post-coital blush effect will still get you in The Daily Mail’s good books. Wear make-up (or be Miranda Kerr) or you are condemned HAGGARD, and probably a secret Lesbian, or someone who's given up on sex.
Today in the DM, the plastic fantastic Heidi Montag got papped sans slap. “But even Heidi Montag needs a splash of mascara or lip gloss just like the rest of us when we're facing the world and the cameras," chirps Georgina Littlejohn (yes, Richard's daughter), snidely. She then goes on to call her “very fresh faced”, subverting entirely the notion that this might be a good thing.
Of course, women should be allowed to wear make-up without feeling like men assume they are doing so to pull. They should be allowed to wear make-up because it is fun to do so, to experiment with tiny palettes of colour and because they want to ignore that humdinger of a spot.
Women should also be allowed to not wear make-up, to go outside with JUST THEIR ACTUAL FACE without being castigated, and not be accused of neglecting their appearance. Make-up should not be a pre-requisite of going to work, as it is at the many notable London stores where the employee guidelines insist on foundation and lipstick.
Why is every celebrity female who leaves her house without a full fake face on 'having a nervous breakdown'? Somehow now we're made to feel like we have to rise to the occasion and be pitied if we can't or won't, even if the occasion is grabbing a bottle of milk for the cereal. And then when we do branch out from the norm, we're brazen hussies looking to get our back doors smashed in.
One day, we will no longer feel that we need our ‘war paint’ in the same way that we won’t need to ‘power dress’. One day, we will be able to go to work, or god forbid, on a date, feeling sexy and ourselves, without feeling obliged to layer up unless we want to. One day we'll hold ourselves to the same standards as the men in our lives.
By Natalie Cox