No Make Up January – Update

So, we’re about half way through the never-ending fun-fest that is January, and I haven’t worn make up for 14 days as I write this. As you will see, the sky has not fallen in. I have survived, and so have those who have been confronted with my naked face.

No Big Deal

A few people have commented in response to my ‘challenge’

‘ No Big Deal – I never wear make-up’.

To those people I say, well, then this post is not for you, but I realised that this is the longest I have gone without wearing make up since I started wearing it, probably around 20 years ago. So, for me, sad as it is, it is kind of a big deal. I’m not trying to change the world here, but it is interesting to consider the thoughts I’ve had about my appearance, and my attitude, since I began my little experiment.

Wash and Go

The time saving element on working days is most welcome. Knowing that a quick shower is the height of my grooming requirements makes life that little bit easier in the chaos of the early morning rush out the door. On arriving at work, nobody physically recoils at my appearance, nor even asks the dreaded question ‘Are you feeling OK?’ To be honest, I’m a little bit disgruntled about this. You mean to say you haven’t noticed that I don’t look as amazing as I normally do?? Rude.

No Make Up Messing: This small human is obsessed with my make-up bag and asks ‘Why you do that, mammy?’

I catch myself in the mirror from time to time and I can’t help thinking that I look a little…incomplete. Scruffier. That I just haven’t had time to finish getting ready. I feel the need to wear smarter clothes than I usually might at work, to compensate for the lack of care taken from the shoulders up. Like I feel I owe it to the world to make myself look better and then, of course, I’m reminded of this,

Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked female. – Erin McKean

On Confidence

As I stare longingly at a tube of mascara, I ask myself ‘WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?’  – and mainly the answer is just because, and because I said I would. I need to see it through now. But something that keeps coming back to me is the connection between make-up and confidence. Commenting on the original post, many women have said they do go without make-up but that they always feel better or more confident when they wear it. I think that is interesting, and significant.I personally think that it’s impossible to separate out your own personal feelings on wearing make-up, and the larger societal expectations around it. We can say we are wearing it out of choice, but when putting it on also increases our self-confidence I think there are interesting questions to explore about where that connection comes from.

If I was attending an important meeting at work , for example,  I would often wear a bright lipstick, for confidence. What’s the connection between a red lipstick and confidence ?  You can’t ignore a red lipstick – is wearing it a way of taking up space? Making yourself heard? Or do we only feel more confident in it because we’re told we should? We’re urged to lengthen our lashes, brighten our cheeks, colour our lips ergo it follows our naked faces are not enough.

How do I miss thee? Let me count the ways.

Make up as choice

I’ve also been thinking about this Caitlin Moran quote from How To Be A Woman quite a lot over the last couple of weeks,

“You can tell whether some misogynistic societal pressure is being exerted on women by calmly enquiring, ‘And are the men doing this, as well?’ If they aren’t, chances are you’re dealing with what we strident feminists refer to as ‘some total fucking bullshit’.”

But instead of raging against the patriarchy , perhaps we should be pitying ‘the men’ for the lack of choice they have in their personal grooming regimes. Make up is also a form of self-expression, and I miss the ability of saying different things about myself from one day to the next. When I was writing this post I stumbled across a quote from legendary Irish drag queen Panti Bliss which I think sums up the make up divide quite perfectly.

Long ago our culture decided women would be the peacocks. We gave them the tools ..and insisted they used them whether they liked it or not. At the same time our culture said to men, you are not allowed to use any of those tools. I say feck that. It’s not fair to men or women.

Make-up is fun and it’s 100% fine to love it, love wearing it, and taking pleasure in it – let men do it too if they want! And let women not feel they have to do it to present themselves to the world. Free Make Up Choice for all.

What’s next?

Two weeks in and I’m comfortable in presenting my naked face to everyone – comfortable, but still self conscious. The goal over the next two weeks is to lose the awareness that I am not wearing make up. Frankly, though, I’m also bored of looking at my face at this stage in the month, and would love to be able to do something to change things up a bit.

Coming up – my biggest challenge of the month – a very rare night out in Dublin for a colleague’s leaving ‘do. Pray for me.


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