the BORN WITH IT beauty project

When brainstorming about an idea for a photo project with a feminist message, my mind wandered around the world. I thought about Kenya where girls are often prevented from going to school. I thought about China where female infanticide occurs frequently in families praying for a boy. I thought about Yemen where a woman cannot leave the house without her husband’s permission and is “not recognized as a full person” in a court of law.

Then I thought about home.

In America we don’t see as much of the blatant sexism that is so prevalent in the rest of the world, but we are most definitely a long way from equality.

For me, the imbalance between the sexes is a plain as the makeup on my face. Literally.

I know, makeup is not an earth-shattering abuse of women. It does not compare to the basic human rights issues women face around the globe and I do not mean to diminish the severity of those problems by referencing them in this project. I mentioned them because I think they are, in some ways, related. Stick with me.

85-95% of people with anorexia are female. Between elementary and high school, girls’ self-esteem drops 3.5 times more than boys’. Approximately 90% of women have reported being unhappy with their appearance.

America is supposed to be this shining beacon of equality and freedom. We pride ourselves on being an example of liberty that other countries should strive to mimic.

So why, when over half of our population is female, do women make up less than 19 percent of our representatives in Congress and only 16.6% of Fortune 500’s board seats?

The answer is not makeup. I’m not saying that gallons of makeup remover will get 200 more women elected to Congress. What I am saying is that makeup might allude to the deeper issue: we don’t like ourselves.

When women are constantly judging ourselves and each other solely on our appearance, how can we expect men not to? When women repeatedly look in the mirror and tell themselves that they are not good enough, how can we gain the confidence needed to become Senators and CEOs?

I am not trying to get rid of makeup. I am trying to get rid of the feeling that I need to change myself to feel adequate. If it takes not wearing makeup to do that, then I’m willing to try.

So while you’re looking at the millions of spring break albums and thinking about all of the things that you wish you could change about your stomach and your hair and your eyes and your nose, I hope you take a second to look at these makeup free, unedited, totally natural pictures of normal girls (right column) and notice the beauty that all girls are simply born with.


71 thoughts on “the BORN WITH IT beauty project

  1. I prefer women who don’t wear make-up, but I am sure I am in the minority. I think more women should try it. It seems like a lot of time and money spent…I think its a great start.

  2. I have three adult sons, and now one year-old granddaughter. I hope she grows up with the self assurance and confidence that all of these girls display.

  3. I do not understand it, and never have. The women on the right are far prettier than those on the left. I’m not sure who tells them otherwise, but it is not me.

  4. Annie, if I was half as beautiful as you, I would be brave enough to go out without makeup. you are a gorgeous inspiration.
    hugs from texas

  5. Serious question: what happens if the tendency to judge women on the basis of their looks is a genetic/inborn one that cannot be significantly modified by social pressure?

  6. The thing that I don’t appreciate about this is that I don’t see one woman here with skin issues. For me, my skin makes me very insecure. I have had bad acne for years, and my skin makeup makes a good difference in how my skin looks. I do understand that I shouldn’t need it to feel confident, but opposed to other parts of your face, people will notice if you don’t have clear skin, which is really hard and honestly painful, knowing that if I leave the house and let everyone see me without my skin makeup, they will judge me because my skin is red and scarred and has acne. I do it regardless because, like you’re saying, I don’t want makeup or my insecurity to own me. I believe that I am beautiful and I really do respect you for this venture. I think it’s really neat! It’s just a little hard for me to see no acne-prone women, or women with scars, or anything, because either you just have a very lucky group of friends (with good skin or who have conquered their bad skin), or something seems off to me, because I can’t believe that so many people just have perfect skin and I’m the odd one out. It’s more common than this, right? Or am I one of the few with bad skin in the world? Sorry for the rant, I really am not trying to be rude, just a difference in perspective 🙂

  7. Love the project! I am not necessarily going to go and burn all of my makeup, but for me, makeup is a confidence boost. Somedays my face is red or I have a pimple, or whatever, and having a little bit of makeup helps me feel a bit better. I don’t usually wear a lot of makeup, just a touch to enhance my natural beauty. I think makeup is fine as long as you aren’t “re-painting” your face and making it different that it is! It’s all about natural!!

  8. Thank you for this. I keep telling my wife she doesn’t need makeup to look beautiful… and I actually prefer when she doesn’t wear it!!!

  9. The makeup no make the woman… I’m paramedic don’t like makeup but I use in special occasions.I’m really beautiful without makeup because my interior is the beauty what project out … don’t need makeup… thanks for your proyect that open the mind of the others persons…

  10. I personally stop using makeup a few years ago and I love it ! I am 44 years old and I love my face . When I wear makeup ,in special occasions, I feel strange , makes me feel good but not more beautiful . I prefer myself the way I am. I rather use my energy to develop my inner beauty more .

  11. Honestly, all these women look beautiful without makeup. A few of them even look BAD with their makeup. Your experiment isn’t an experiment but a reality for me. Because I don’t wear makeup at all. As a mother of a 9 months old, I don’t want my baby to kiss me on my makeup!

    • Whoever said these Ladies NEED make up to look pretty, must have needed spectacles…
      And whoever said these Ladies NEED make up to look sexy, beautiful, and/or downright GORGEOUS, had to have been blind as a bat….or had bats in his/her belfry.

      Any of these LADIES, pick one, any one, can hang on my arm any day of the week!
      To me, These are some very attractive, very beautiful, Ladies.

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