Why I detest this bare-faced chic: As celebrities claim to go without make-up for charity, LIZ JONES hits back
08:05 GMT, 8 November 2012
Celebrities going make-up free may be all the rage, but it’s peddling a toxic myth to ordinary women says LIZ JONES
The folks at the BBC must feel their annual Children In Need campaign is looming rather incongruously, given the Jimmy Savile scandal.
Perhaps this explains their strange publicity campaign for what feels like some sort of brainwave dreamed up in a session of 'blue-sky thinking'.
Imagine the scene. 'We should get famous women to be photographed without their make-up on,' cries a member of the publicity team.
Barefaced cheek: According to Liz, so-called 'barefaced' shots heap even more pressure on real women 439
'And then get ordinary women to be sponsored to go bare-faced at work. Let’s spell it “BearFaced” to allude to mascot Pudsey Bear. And let’s get celebrity photographer Rankin to take the photos. The papers will go mad for it!'
Never mind blue-sky thinking, this is Blue Peter thinking. How pointless. How self-indulgent. And never mind that 'BearFaced' 42-year-old Country File presenter Julia Bradbury says: 'We need as many people to get involved as possible, it’s definitely liberating.'
Or that model Heidi Klum adds: 'I am a firm believer of encouraging women’s empowerment.'
Liberating is backpacking around the world with no husband and no job, not failing to apply blusher one morning.
This whole exercise smacks to me of being deeply, unequivocably anti-women.
First, why choose a male photographer Like most fashion photographers, Rankin is short and overweight, but has a reputation for wanting his female subjects — who have included Madonna and Cate Blanchett — to appear as flawless as possible.
And look closely at the BearFaced women’s faces. Lovely, yes Lulu looks about 12. Heidi Klum’s serene visage belies her 39 years.
Not one looks plain awful, with the mouth and skin of a tortoise, eyes like currants in a pillow of dough, which is what I look like without my usual inches of slap.
Not only have these photos been well lit — and probably airbrushed — but some of the women have undoubtedly had help. Abbey Clancy’s eyelashes are so long they could be plaited, while her lips have a bouncy-castle quality.
Lights, camera, make-up: Louise Redknapp goes bare-faced (left) and as we're used to seeing her (right)
I commissioned a photograph of Heidi Klum for a magazine cover 13 years ago and in every frame on the contact sheet you could see her crow’s feet. We airbrushed them because the magazine’s publisher felt wrinkles would frighten our readers.
Something has clearly happened to her face since then: Rankin has erased them, or the German supermodel has had some work done.
I’d have liked to have seen Lorraine Pascale, Nigella Lawson and Clare Balding show us an interesting range of faces, rather than this rather bland lot.
I find the idea of telling women to abandon the war paint and turn up at work thread veined and rosy cheeked deeply patronising.
Some things are meant to be smoothed over, covered up, lied about.
To look good 'bare faced' is expensive, demoralising and time-consuming — but it’s very much the fad of the moment. It’s as if creating the appearance of dewy skin, plump mouths and defined eyes through the artifice of make-up — panstick, lipstick and powder — is not trying hard enough these days.
Looking beautiful is now all about having eyelash extensions that need grooming every two weeks, like a high-maintenance show pony.
It’s about plumping your cheeks and softening nasolabial lines (the 'smile lines' from the sides of the nose to the mouth corners), microdermabrasion and other invasive facials.
No make-up: Singer Lulu ditches the slap but Liz Jones thinks airbrushing could be involved
Creating the effect of 'naturally' thick and busy dark eyebrows can be faked by implants — if you have the time and the money.
The procedure uses hair from your head and re-implants it. But head hair grows much longer than eyebrow hair, so the implants need regular shaping and trimming to avoid your being mistaken for Denis Healey.
In fact, these procedures come with nasty after-effects which cost even more time and money. I had eyelash extensions to create the illusion of Bambi-esque eyelashes, and they pulled my natural lashes out. I had to buy a 100 serum to help them grow back.
I could go on and on about the money you will be seduced to spend to look like this lot, but suffice it to say these procedures have one aim: to make a woman 'shower ready'.
That basically means beautiful and desirable the moment she steps out of a shower with wet hair — which is apparently what men like.
So I say bare faced is the opposite of liberation, it’s enslavement to a bogus, male ideal of beauty, where even 'natural' no longer means what it says on the tin. It involves a heck of a lot of money. It’s not just irritating, it’s duplicitous.
Not so long ago, female stars were not expected to look beautiful without make-up. Indeed, Marilyn Monroe, when she was caught outside her door after a stay in hospital, valiantly tried to hide her unadorned face.
I’d prefer these women looking the way Sarah Jessica Parker did, sans make-up, in the first Sex And The City film, where she confronted her fortysomething, jilted, disappointed face in the mirror.
All dark shadows around the eyes, and a mouth like a dried-up river bed. When I saw it in the cinema, the women in the audience cheered.
Bogus: Liz says 'barefaced' beauty means being enslaved to a bogus male idea of beauty
I wonder, too, what these vanity stunts raise, other than the profile of the ‘brave’ star involved I cannot tell you how many emails I received in October about T-shirts that were being customised by celebrities in aid of breast cancer.
When I was the editor of a glossy magazine, I persuaded female stars to be shot in their bras by yet another bejeaned fashion photographer, Patrick Demarchelier, to increase awareness of breast cancer.
The photos were auctioned in aid of research. I don’t think we raised a single penny. None of the stars bought their photos.
So beware all this self-serving altruism. There are far too many women who don’t bother to wear make-up to work already — don’t encourage more!
Come tomorrow, when the great Children In Need 'BearFaced' jamboree takes place, paint your face with whatever it takes to get you out of that front door.
Give for the sake of giving, because you want to help children. Don’t pretend that at the same time you are giving anything more than lip service to a new, impossible ideal of female beauty.