Today I’m feeling the need to talk about a topic that is sort of near and dear to my heart. A topic that breaks my heart and fires me up at the same time. The very same topic that makes me think I need to be a mom of boys and never venture down the path of trying to raise a girl in this crazy word. I know I have no choice in how the DNA shakes out, but still. The topic? The impossible standard of beauty that women are expected to live up to.
This has come to my mind (and stayed there) because of two stories that lit the web and media on fire last week and are seemingly related. The first, was a “shocking” photo that Lady Gaga posted, I’m assuming on Twitter, of herself, bare-faced and casual:
I first caught the story while watching the Today show and moving through my morning routine. The general consensus was basically how TERRIBLE Lady Gaga looked without makeup and that she was pretty brave to throw that out there. At one point, one of the reporters even made a “gah!” sound and shook his head.
Yeah, she doesn’t look magazine-cover ready. She looks real. She looks human. She looks like a normal woman that you would walk by on the street. And guess what? That’s because at the end of the day she is! God forbid women be expected to never leave the house, nay, to never BE without makeup. Frankly, the report really pissed me off. In countless interviews men are quoted saying they love a natural women and they hate it when a woman wears too much makeup. But presented with a photo of a superstar without makeup and the first reaction garnered is “Gah!” Come on men, step up! This is ridiculous. I’m not even a huge fan of Gaga, though her musically is addictive and catchy, but I thought she looked great. It reminded me of the photos she did for Harper’s Bazaar a while back. Seemingly bare-faced, though I know she was not, she looked like an 1800s woman. Real. Beautiful. Raw.
I’ve gone through many stages of insecurity in my life where I wouldn’t be caught dead without makeup and stages (like after having my son) that I didn’t have the time or care for it all. Mr C still thought I was beautiful and told me so regularly. A good friend of mine called me a “hot mom” when I posted a bare-faced photo of me and Little C a few weeks after he was born. God bless these men! Because if the standard of beauty is so intense and unreachable that a photo like the one of Lady Gaga is viewed as hideous, then we as women, and the little girls we’re raising, have no prayer of ever feeling good about ourselves.
I’ve posted a photo of myself without makeup in this very blog before and I’m going to do it again right now. I did it endlessly on Instagram when Little C was born and I can tell you the last thought in my mind was not having makeup on – though I was concerned with how tired I looked, and I WAS! Because at the end of the day, when I wash my makeup off, this is who I am. This is who my husband married. This is who my son sees in the early hours of morning. Because this body is a shell and for goodness sakes, can’t we start looking at character instead of complexion?
The other story, seemingly opposite, was of the long-awaited birth of Prince George, to the handsome Prince William and beautiful Duchess Kate. Again, the media was set ablaze by how GOOD Kate looked just a day after giving birth and how praised she was for choosing a dress that still showed her post-birth belly. And yes, she looked absolutely stunning… but do you know why? Because just before the Prince and Duchess appeared on the steps of the hospital, Kate’s hairdresser was seen arriving. HER HAIRDRESSER, people. There is no doubt that she had an entire team working to make her look like that. She’s a duchess, that’s expected. But to praise her for looking so good and immediately start comparing her to other moms who recently gave birth is kind of sickening, and cruel. The health of her baby and their happiness as new parents is all that mattered. She still had a bump?! Ummm, yeah! Every woman who has given birth can tell you that it doesn’t go away instantly. Choosing to show it or hide it is irrelevant. Because a real mom cares only about that baby in her arms… nothing more. And that is precisely what we should care about. Kudos to her for looking so beautiful. Actually, kudos to her TEAM. I honestly felt the real beauty came from her smile and the way that she looked at her husband holding their newborn son. THAT was beauty. THAT was real.
I’m not going to say that I didn’t try to “freshen up” before people arrived to greet me and the new Baby C the morning he was born… but I know that is not what they were looking at. Everyone was enamored with Baby C. No one more than me! My best friend saw me early in the morning, before I had the chance to put on makeup and told me that I looked great. And I know she meant it. But I also know what she meant. I looked happy. I looked completely in love. And I was. And I felt really beautiful in that moment. With or without makeup.
I pray that our society stops measuring the worth of a person by their looks. Because it truly has become an impossible standard. A standard which we have no hope or power to debunk. Hollywood is mirage and when the lights go off and the stage is cleared, they all wash their faces and go to bed, looking like the same people we see at the grocery store, pumping gas at the corner station and washing our cars on a Saturday morning. I pray we reach the day where that is alright, instead of disgusting.