Stripping down the myth of no-makeup makeup and social media

Stripping down the myth of no-makeup makeup and social media

If you’re anything like me (female-identifying, has typed “foundation” into a search bar at least once, has a face), odds are you’re targeted with advertisements for trendy makeup brands on Facebook and Instagram with the persistence and suspicious accuracy of a telepathic door-to-door salesman. More often than not, these are ads for social media-savvy makeup brands such as Glossier, selling a promise of glowy, natural beauty in the form of $14 clear lip gloss. The author of “Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty,” Nancy Etcoff, explains that by wearing obvious makeup, “there may be a lowering of trust, so if you are in a situation where you need to be a trusted source, perhaps you should choose a different look.” Performing traditional femininity is walking a thin line — having to care enough about your appearance to be taken seriously but not so much that you seem fake. In the rapidly evolving social media marketing landscape, the idea of “realness” is a valuable commodity. “Relatable” moments can be leveraged into higher social media engagement, which translates into actors being cast in more projects. Breaking that guise is a cardinal sin; celebrities suspected of engineering fake media spectacles, such as Taylor Swift, face harsh judgement in the public eye. Therefore, it makes sense that a “makeup-free” themed photo shoot is often used as a rhetorical tool to signal a new, more serious phase in a celebrity’s career. Paper magazine’s spread on Christina Aguilera, titled “Christina Aguilera Is Back With a New Transformation,” features a cover photo of the singer, bare-faced and wearing a ring with the word “MOM” on it. She explains, “I think society tells us we need makeovers, but why can’t we embrace the beauty that we naturally have?” The message is clear: These women are bravely renouncing conventional beauty standards, even risking exposure or humiliation, in favor of a more genuine, wholesome image. Being photographed without cosmetics is read as a bold statement against the restrictive beauty standards that women are held to.

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If you’re anything like me (female-identifying, has typed “foundation” into a search bar at least once, has a face), odds are you’re targeted with advertisements for trendy makeup brands on Facebook and Instagram with the persistence and suspicious accuracy of a telepathic door-to-door salesman. More often than not, these are ads for social media-savvy makeup brands such as Glossier, selling a promise of glowy, natural beauty in the form of $14 clear lip gloss.

The insidious stereotype that women who wear visible makeup are deceptive still exists today, which goes to show that cosmetics hold deeply entrenched cultural meanings. The author of “Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty,” Nancy Etcoff, explains that by wearing obvious makeup, “there may be a lowering of trust, so if you are in a situation where you need to be a trusted source, perhaps you should choose a different look.” Performing traditional femininity is walking a thin line — having to care enough about your appearance to be taken seriously but not so much that you seem fake.

In the rapidly evolving social media marketing landscape, the idea of “realness” is a valuable commodity. Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat promise a deeper, more personal connection with our favorite influencers and celebrities, with the implied promise…

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