Wednesday 26 March 2014

Bare faced mothers: the naked truth.

mini malteser, parenting blog, make up, breast cancer selfie, no make up

I sometimes wonder at what point in history women felt the urge to beautify themselves. I mean, has the desire to exaggerate beauty always existed or have we made it what it is, desperately seeking out the next anti ageing cream or cosmetic nip and tuck. I've no doubt that men feel an expectation to look a certain way but I still think that women get the greater pressure to be aesthetically pleasing; pressure to have thinner waists, youthful looking skin, bigger eyelashes and pert bosoms.

We're so up to our eyeballs in hug-in pants and eyeliner that we fail to see the problem. You see, it's one thing titivating ourselves to impress others or feel good about ourselves, but when children come into the equation we are their role models and they tell us more about ourselves than anyone else could.

My son saw me putting on makeup the other day. He saw the way I added colours to my face, like colouring in a picture - and it looked like fun. "Can I draw on my face too mummy?" he asked. "No," I said, not really knowing what my reasoning was. Why do I feel uncomfortable with my child wearing makeup? Is it because he's a boy? No, because I imagine the scenario with a girl and feel equally as uncomfortable. Despite the obvious reasons of having my nice makeup trashed by a three year old, I actually felt a deep sense of unease about it as I tried to wriggle my way out of the question by explaining that mummies were just silly and don't make any sense.

And we don't.

The latest social media campaign to raise awareness for breast cancer posed an interesting dilemma for women. The no make up selfies filled our Facebook pages, most taken in darkly lit rooms or from a distance that would limit the view of any blemishes or wrinkles. Others resorted to adding special lighting and Instagram filters to enhance their bare-faced, moisturised cheeks, which made me want to write a big fat 'CHEAT' underneath. We felt vulnerable. Naked. I'm glad that the campaign proved successful and raised lots of money for breast cancer but my meagre £3 donation actually gave me a lesson that is priceless.

The majority of women are not happy with their faces.

Even the most beautiful.

In fact, it's interesting that the most beautiful seemed to struggle more, as though physical beauty in itself leaves a constant dissatisfaction, striving for things of no substance. At times I'll admit I've spent far longer worrying about what I look like than being kind. We adorn ourselves with lipstick but we forget to text our mums, we take the time to put on mascara but we forget to tell our partners we love them.

What has made us become so vain, so self conscious, and is this belief system what we want to pass on to our offspring? I hope that my child grows up to love the skin he is in. If my son only sees me with makeup on then what am I teaching him about the women he should date in later life? If I had a girl, I would want her to love the way she looks without the need for makeup and if she were to tell me she couldn't go out without make up on I'd feel saddened. I'd want her to feel free to wear it or not as she pleased, not rely on it.

I still wear make up.

I like wearing makeup, actually. And that's okay. Appearances are important but they're not what makes a person. I shouldn't feel embarrassed if I choose not to wear it on a certain day and I shouldn't have to defend myself on either occasion. At the end of the day it's what's inside that counts, but how much do we believe that about ourselves? If we are to empower women then we need to encourage one another to develop depth of character, not depth of foundation.

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