At a young age of five or six, I begged my mother to get me a heart-shaped makeup kit for my birthday. I was so happy when I received it and wanted to try it out immediately. I asked my two older sisters to do my makeup, as I did not feel confident enough to do it myself. For 20 minutes, I laid down, and my sisters each took a side of my face. When I got up, I looked in the mirror and saw they had turned me into a clown. My sisters had powdered my face white, drew black diamonds around my eyes, turned my nose and mouth red, and even elongated the corners of my mouth with red shadow. They stood by my side laughing at their prank, while I stared, heart-broken. My mother, not wanting any more fights to break out, took away the kit.
If I ever wear makeup, I think I look like a clown, so I never found it appealing again. This concept was hard to explain to my older sisters and mother. They would always say, "When you start wearing makeup…" and I would reply: "I don't want to." I would then be met with the eye roll and the sigh of, "You will when you're older." As the years pass, I continue to prove them wrong, but they wouldn’t let up. My mother warns me about how "unprofessional" I look without makeup: "People will think you don't care about yourself. No one will take you seriously in the business world." I only recently started to buy lipstick once I found out liquid mattes were a thing since they don’t smudge and I touch my mouth all too often. I still wonder, "Would I not be taken seriously if I don't follow the standard and wore makeup every day?"
Recently, I have been seeing something miraculous happen—the No Makeup Movement. Celebrity women are walking red carpets and taking selfies, bare-faced and proud. Alicia Keys, the woman many claim started the movement, sparked lots of buzz in 2016 when she announced she would no longer wear makeup, all the time. She said, "I don't want to cover up anymore. Not my face, not my mind, not my soul.” She inspired many women to do the same. Prominent influencers like James Charles and Kylie Jenner are joining in on the trend by posting bare-faced selfies on Instagram. Kylie's sister, Kim Kardashian, appeared with no makeup at Paris Fashion Week.
The movement continues to grow, two years later and there is no sign of it slowing either. There are currently 16.9 million photos with the no makeup hashtag. Granted not all of them are actually bare-faced, but a vast majority are. As women proudly post pictures of themselves in all of their natural glory, I have begun to feel less alone.
Makeup is a great way to express yourself, show off your creativity, and to feel empowered; but it shouldn't be mandatory. It is yet another way women are empowering themselves. They are going against the social norm by showing that they don't need makeup to look beautiful.
I have also noticed the impact of this movement locally. Women at work don't wear makeup. I work in multiple libraries, including Burton Barr, the central Phoenix branch, and see many of the supervisors and librarians, who take on leadership roles, with clean, fresh faces. Those of us who work under them never question their authority or see them as unprofessional. Professional women are no longer feeling the pressure to look flawless in their place of business. Our faces don't impede our work.
I hope that the No Makeup Movement gains more momentum in the coming years, so young girls do not believe it is mandatory. I also hope more women and girls who wear makeup stop feeling others will judge them when they go without. This movement is just another way for women to show the world that we do what we want. It is our choice.