In Texas, a group of teenage girls did something unusual during their morning routines. They didn’t reach for any beauty products such as foundation, mascara or even lip gloss. The make-up-free event was in honor of Operation Beautiful. In addition to going to school without make-up, female students also filmed a video where they admitted to spending anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours getting ready for school. The campaign, which focuses on inner beauty, caught the attention of the national media.
The goal is not to banish make-up, but to help females prioritize their inner beauty and be confident from within. Many of the students said they didn't like to feel the pressure of having to look a certain way.
I spent middle school in a cloud of hair spray. I never timed how long I spent in the bathroom getting ready for school. However, I do recall insisting my brother get out so I could pull out my arsenal of hair products and curling irons. In the fifth and sixth grade, curled, “poofy” bangs were trendy and “big hair” was an important part of fitting in. I teased, curled and then sprayed my hair into a stiff poof of curls. My brother, who accidently got in the way a time or two, received a fine coating of hairspray on his arms and head. Barely 13-years-old, I envied the girls with bigger curls. It was the first time I disliked my straight brown hair.
Mom was strict on make-up. She let the curls and hairspray slide, but set her foot down when it come to heavy eye make-up. At 13, we picked out foundation, blush, sheer lip gloss and clear mascara. No amount of persuasion could change her mind. There would be nothing else until my 16th birthday. But I felt the pressure to look older than my 13 years. Teenage acne didn’t boost self-confidence. I would look in the mirror and scrutinize the image staring back. Athletics saved me from a lot of those inner struggles with beauty. I wasn’t worried about my hair or lack of make-up on the basketball court. On my 16th birthday, I clutched my black mascara like a magic wand, hoping for something beyond my reach. When I wore eye make-up hardly anybody noticed the change in appearance. I left school disappointed and foolish. I believed the subtle change would create a new identity, or fulfill society’s expectations of beauty. It did neither.