Since when did reality become a taboo?

There are so many regrets that stem from me being age 12/13. As well as trying way too hard to fit in, thinking I knew everything and having quite an unhealthy obsession with Justin Bieber, I also thought it would be a great idea to like 1000+ Facebook pages in my pre-teen haste to appear culturally relevant. A quick scroll down my feed and pages such as ‘Funny Pics’, ‘I stare blankly into my locker trying to remember if I have homework’ and ‘When I was your age I was looking after a tamagochi, not a baby’ have all posted. Like I say, many regrets. These groups largely mass-share links that usually send you to irritatingly formatted sites with context less interesting than Boris Johnson’s sex life, they’re easy to ignore most of the time, yet one the other day caught my eye.

It was a link to pictures of celebrities without make-up or Photoshop, pretty standard if you’re trying to appeal to the painfully-insecure-and-constantly-looking-to-validate-their-existence demographic of teenage and pre-teenage girls. I think it was the hyperbolic phrasing that drew me to it: along the lines of ‘these photos of celebrities without make-up will SHOCK YOU’, I’m a sucker for shouty capitals. In my very sleepy and overly-optimistic state, I was hoping it would be an exposé of how far Photoshop has gone, how ridiculous the current mentality being imposed is – that every female celebrity looks flawless no matter what time of day, how well they’re holding up or what they’re doing with their day. Of course, it was a massive disappointment. The slide-show (I said they were horribly formatted) simply incorporated pictures of beautiful women such as Beyoncé and Angelina Jolie, whose aim was not to become famous for looks-based purposes, who looked beautiful still without the masses of make-up and Photoshop that we are taught is normal to have in almost every published photograph.

I was confused, why would I be ‘shocked’ that there are women blessed with naturally good looks, who manage to still look good without products? I was definitely more shocked that the mainstream media appeared to now regard things like eye-bags and spots as ‘shocking’, as though they weren’t naturally occurring instances fuelled by lifestyle decisions. I was definitely shocked that to look anything but flawless was now deemed out of the ordinary. I also prayed that this website wasn’t intentionally pandering to a demographic as notoriously self-doubting as young girls, aiming to make them feel inferior as to fuel beauty companies economically, using their insecurity as a currency. Ever since I read Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth I’ve been very sceptical as to what goes out behind the lacquered doors of the fashion industry.

So why allow natural beauty to become a taboo? There is a distinct difference between wearing make-up because it makes you feel more confident and wearing make-up because you’ve been made to feel as though you must compete with other women. It’s imperative that girls like 13 year old me do not feel as though they have to trade in their credentials for an unrelenting feeling of inferiority.

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