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.