The use of cosmetics has been around for a while now. Estimates are 6000 years. It’s a ritual as old as human history, and it has been included in the enchantress’ toolkit since day one. It covers imperfections and still allows us to stand out as individuals in a sea of faces. It enhances our attractive qualities and gives us an excuse to spend hours in front of a mirror every week. It strokes our vanity and bolsters our fragile and delicate egos. It’s a lot like magic. The rituals involved are sacred and passed down from generation to generation: mother to daughter and sister to sister. If an earthquake swallowed up all of our make up, we would grab berries from the vine and make our lips red with them instead.
I bring you that dramatic lead up to give you an idea of the cultural significance that make-up free movie stars, celebrities and adult industry workers have for us. It’s actually kind of a big deal. Just a couple of weeks ago a gallery of porn stars pre and post makeup went viral. Aesthetic reception was mixed, but the denuding possessed a universal shock value.
It all ties in to the digital age. Digital alteration now allows makeup to be applied after the shoot. It can do a lot more than makeup as well! It can thin, thicken, erase, enhance, augment and even create a new reality. It seriously plays with our concept of real vs. fake and there is a now a revolutionary backlash against this sort of trickery. A backlash so powerful it is even making us unconsciously suspicious of and averse to our beloved makeup.
As a society with commonly held ideals of beauty, this is happening on a macro scale. Maybe for the first time ever. We want to know what our idols, and fantasies really look like in analog truth, and underneath all the makeup. We want the bare and obvious truth of the matter because we are sick and tired of being digitally fooled.
We have forgotten the faces of our mothers and sisters. We have digitally widened our mouths and eyes, slimmed our asses, chiseled our jaws, increased our bust and shrunk our feet. That’s just for starters. Then we have marketed this aggressively and deviously as “real”. We spoon feed this digital soup to our daughters and sons. We allow them to believe that the impossible standard of beautiful they compare themselves to actually exists.
Consequently, as a whole, heavy digital alteration leaves the viewer with a feeling of being betrayed or duped. We can’t put our finger on it most of the time, but we know something is wrong! We rebel. Because we can’t tell the difference anymore between digital and makeup, we are gravitating towards a new brand of media. A new version of what’s really real. The snaggle tooth sensation in Japan is also tied into this backlash.
Our concept of what’s sexy and beautiful is changing. We want the real deal. We want analog beauty in a digitally dominant world. We crave that obvious contrast. It makes us feel better about ourselves.
Oddly enough, it is porn stars and adult entertainers who are on the front line of this return to the real. In response to the porn stars without makeup sensation, adult social network MyGirlFund.com (disclosure, I’m a model on the site) launched a Free Your Face challenge. MyGirlFund models submitted with and without makeup photos of themselves to this tumblr: http://www.mygirlfund-events.tumblr.com. If you want to see how amateur girls next door without makeup stack up against the unmasked porn stars, you’ll want to check it out.
A face without alteration or makeup is a brave admission. It’s confessional and represents the price you pay for a truly clear conscience. It is also the most supremely confident thing that you can do. It doesn’t matter who you are. By projecting your “raw” face into the HD big screen domains of America’s living rooms you are fighting the inertia of human perception. You are combating the false god of symmetry. You are rejecting the stylized and colorized, the alien proportions. You are gorgeous and natural and beautifully human.
As idealized and often objectified and dehumanized sex symbols, you are also impossibly brave to do this.
Viva la revolution!
Thanks to MyGirlFund’s own Apt No 7 for this brilliant post. You can talk to her here. And here she is unmasking herself: