No make-up, no blow-drys and hairy legs! How two women are going au naturel for 60 days to rediscover their inner confidence
Molly Barker, 51, and Caitlin Boyle, 27, devote their lives to promoting the ideals of health, confidence and empowerment among young girls.
But on realising that by wearing make-up and following extensive beauty regimes, they had fallen into the very trap they warn preteens against, the two North Carolina natives launched The Naked Face Project.
In an effort to explore the motives behind their primping and preening, Ms Barker, founder of Girls on The Run, and training coach for the programme, Mrs Boyle, decided to go 60 days without any kind of beautification.
Naked: Molly Barker (left) and Caitlin Boyle (right), triathletes and mentors to preteen girls, are giving up all their beauty habits for 60 days after realising they were contradicting what they told young girls about self esteem
The 51-year-old four-time Ironman triathlete explains on the initiative's website why they took up the challenge.
Following a conversation with her younger counterpart about what they say to girls who ask them why they wear make-up, she writes:
'I stopped to think about my HONEST answer..
'I feel incomplete without it. I think it makes me look younger and I guess I think younger is prettier, better somehow…and in our culture more powerful.
'YUCK! Hypocrite…I hear myself say inside. How many hundreds, maybe thousands of times, have I looked an 8 year old girl directly in the eye, held her hands in mine, and told her “You are beautiful just the way you are.”'
Back to basics: The 51-year-old founder of youth programme, Girls on the Run, (left) admitted she wore make-up to feel 'pretty' and 'powerful' so launched The Naked Face Project with the 27-year-old coach (right)
Now the mother of two and her pregnant sidekick are half way through their 60-day challenge.
They have both given up wearing make-up, using depilatory products, dying, curling or straightening their hair, wearing heels, tight skirts and jewellery and painting toe nails.
Furthermore, they have eschewed their anti-wrinkle beauty products, anti-acne creams and even deodorant.
In other words, they are going 100 per cent au naturel and they are finding the experience illuminating.
'I’ve been observing faces,' Ms Barker told the Charlotte Observer. 'Really looking at someone’s face, and they’re truly beautiful, all of them.'
Hot mamas: The 51-year-old mother of two and pregnant 27-year-old are eschewing make-up, hair removal, jewellery, deodorant and hair styling as well as anti-ageing creams and acne treatments
The goal, they say is not criticise women who follow these routines or defend any political ideal but to explore whether their own beauty habits are a choice or a compulsion and why that is.
Kelly Finley, a women’s and gender studies professor at University of North Carolina supports the project as bringing up important issues for women, especially those in the workplace.
'We’ve been painting our faces for millennia,' she explained to the Observer. 'But when you feel like you have to wear makeup or you won’t have power, then that’s something different.'
So far, the revelations have been startling for both athletes and the support from fans of the challenge has been growing.
For Ms Barker, the hardest situations to navigate have been the social functions she has attended 'unprotected' by make-up and accessories.
Inspirational: Ms Barker wants to uphold the values she teaches the girls in her programme and aims to do so by leaving the make-up at home when speaking to them at future events
About a party she went to in New York she said: 'I felt like plain Jane – invisible. I felt so out of place. I was having a conversation with the negative voices in my head.'
Mrs Boyle described going out sans make-up as akin to wearing her shirt inside-out.
While both women are eager to remove their body hair, their attitudes are changing more and more each day as they face up to their own insecurities and examine their choices.
Mrs Boyle plans to tell girls from now on that while make-up and jewellery is fun, it is not important while Ms Barker feels more authentic without it and is determined to always be naked-faced around the young members of her organisation.
Follow Ms Barker and Mrs Boyle's story or join in the challenge at The Naked Face Project