Written by Tyler Mcgillivary
We’ve all seen the photos: a sleepy Miley Cyrus in bed with her tousled hair, an “I Woke Up Like This” Beyoncé grinning with eyes closed, Bar Rafaeli in all her freckled, bright-eyed glory casually sipping from a coconut, the list goes on. It seems that every morning a new celebrity tweet or Instagram photo surfaces depicting a star sans a single drop of makeup. In some cases, these photos elicit feelings of extreme jealousy or inadequacy in regards to one’s own Bride of Frankenstein morning appearance, while in other instances the photos are merely met with reactions of awe and appreciation at the display of natural beauty; but too often, celebrities receive biting backlash for daring to expose their makeup-free facades.
In a recent incident, 37-year-old actress Candace Cameron, best known for her role as DJ Tanner on the beloved sitcom Full House, posted a photo of herself on Instagram wearing just concealer and mascara. She faced such extreme online bullying that she was forced to remove the image from her profile. The picture depicted a smiling Cameron with the caption “A good blow out means a good day and the fact that I’m still alive” about which she later tweeted “I thought I looked nice, otherwise I wouldn’t have shared it.” Cameron’s followers were not as supportive of her appearance, commenting vicious remarks such as, “Yikes! You look super old” “That’s a nice blowout but an AWFUL smile. What are you doing????.” Unfortunately, Cameron is not the first make-upless celebrity to garner brutal feedback.
Sarah Michelle Gellar, Goldie Hawn, Lindsay Lohan, and Lady Gaga have all received negative tabloid attention for exposing au naturale faces, revealing a disconnect between a professed desire to see more “real” beauty portrayed in the media and the often deprecating reality celebrities face for showing any of their actual human flaws. This establishes a double-edged sword for women: if they wear noticeable quantities of makeup or edit out blemishes from their photographs, they are scolded for being inauthentic or for supporting unrealistic ideals of beauty, but if they don’t wear any at all they are told they look old, puffy, tired, or just outright unattractive.
So what causes our inability to accept the photographs these women put up simply for what they are? Maybe some members of the Instagram community are just envious of celebrities like Candace Cameron and are just trying to knock them down off their pedestals. Or perhaps, we hold celebrities to a higher standard because we are so used to seeing them at their absolute best that anything less than perfect is difficult for us to digest. More likely though, the issue stems from neither the viewer nor the celebrity, but from an overarching reliance on makeup as a device of falsified perfection. The idea that celebrities are still considered “brave” for uploading these makeup-free images suggests that they are doing something outside of the norm and for all people to blindly accept these images would be an unrealistic expectation.
The recent surge in makeup free selfies indicates a shifting attitude among celebrities towards a more natural face of beauty that many of their fans have begun to subscribe to. It is notable that many of the comments on Miley, Beyonce, and Bar’s photographs were those of encouragement. Similarly, stars such as Shailene Woodley, who devotes herself to wearing minimal makeup, set an example for how women can be beautiful on any end of the makeup spectrum they choose. So maybe it is Maybelline, or maybe it’s natural.