Thursday, October 21, 2010

One girl at a time

As the above video demonstrates, a group of high school girls in Colleyville, Texas has decided to give up makeup once a week in order to embrace their natural beauty. In the video, one of them says that the reason they are doing this is because they just want people to know "They're beautiful just the way you are," and I absolutely love that.

It also makes me believe the real-is-beautiful message is finally starting to make its way to teenagers. Another thing I love.

But as much as I love this story, I do have one question—what about the girls who wear makeup because they have a problem with acne? What do they do?

In the video, the reporter notes that the group of girls she interviews are all "gorgeous and you have this beautiful skin and there's no reason to cover it up." And when I heard her say that, it hit me . . . what about the girls who don't have beautiful skin? What about girls who have blemishes they want to cover up? And don't most girls in high school fall into that category?

I'm in no way advocating that this no-makeup movement isn't a good one because I really do think it's positive step in the direction of body acceptance. I'm just struggling to reconcile my admiration for the campaign with my understanding that LOTS of girls use makeup not to look sexy or womanly, but to hide the big pimples that plagued so many of us in high school.

And when I think about that, I worry that this movement will further ostracize girls who are not "naturally" pretty in high school while also further elevating girls who are, creating even more disparity between these two groups than there already is. A scary thought indeed.

F. Scott Fitzergerald once said that "the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function," and that's why I don't mind presenting my two very different responses to these girls in Texas. On the one hand, I want to encourage girls to like themselves the way they are. On the other hand, I don't want to tell any girl—or woman—that it is socially unacceptable to wear makeup when she has an ugly blemish on her face.

These girls claim that they want to change "one girl at a time" (which is what it says across the backs of their t-shirts), an appropriate and admirable stance. But what about the thousands of girls who can't change the way they look?

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