It’s Children in Need day today, a cause to which I donate and have taken part in fundraising activities for in the past, but that doesn’t stop me from criticising a part of their campaign this year. I really don’t like the ‘bear-faced’ campaign, in which women were asked to be sponsored to go a day without make-up. When I saw this thread on Mumsnet, it put a lot of my feelings into words and added other points I hadn’t even thought of as to why it’s such a bad idea.
The thread was started by Tweetytwitcher who found the campaign depressing because of “the way that it treats the concept of an un-made-up woman as so unusual, almost like a freak-show. Something outrageous that you do to raise money, while at the same time the women involved blather on about empowerment.”
EmpressOfTheSevenRomanCandles agreed; “It’s the implication that not wearing makeup is somehow radically against the norm that bothers me. And I know that for plenty of women wearing makeup is the norm, but that’s not the point – they’re equally valid choices.”
LaundryFairycalled the whole concept ludicrous as if it’s a; “heroic act of bravery for a woman to go out in public without make-up.”
For Children in Need people usually do daft stunts, things like bathing in beans or shaving their heads, but wearing no make-up? Is that really on a par with these things? Most women I know don’t wear make-up every day, or at least certainly not on the school run which is where I encounter most women these days. I know it’s more common to wear it for work, but not all the time and not for everyone. I think it’s ridiculous the way this campaign suggests that the idea of women not wearing make-up is something really weird and wacky.
The point was also made that photographs of models in a studio environment don’t reflect most ordinary women and will make some women feel worse about themselves. The participants have undoubtedly had some kind of help with their looks, be it cosmetic, make-up, airbrushing or even just kind lighting.
As OatyBeatie said; “...it is offensive and stupid. And those gallery pictures have so many beauty-enhancing techniques (as well as choosing mostly young and very beautiful women) that they are calculated to twist the body-hate knife into ordinary women just a little bit deeper.”
In any case, as Janet Street-Porter said in femail last week; “Why would ordinary women welcome high profile beauties telling them to take the children to school and spend a day in the office completely unadorned? Talk about patronising!”
Daisy Buchanan also criticised the campaign on MSN, saying, “We live in a world that won’t stop scrutinising the way women look.” I think this gets to the crux of it. The whole project is rooted in the deeply misogynistic assumption that what a woman looks like is the most important thing about her. For a children’s charity to add to this pressure is just not on, for while many women, young women particularly, feel this pressure almost constantly, it also affects girls.
Back on the Mumsnet thread StarsGhostTail added; “For those of us with teenage daughters who get teased, because they refuse to break the school rules and wear make up, this is just wrong. It doesn’t make you less grown up and less of a woman to not want to paint yourself every morning.”
It’s obvious that the campaign was never meant to be anything other than a fun way to raise money for children who need it. I just wish they’d thought it through, then thought of something better.