The entire cast of CBS’ ‘The Talk‘ went no makeup for their Season 3 premier yesterday, wearing barely-styled hair and bathrobes to emphasize their just-rolled-out-of-bed look. Judging by many responses, their unkempt hair and a lack of eyeliner were hardly enough to impress. But even if the episode was a PR stunt, I think The Talk’s episode was kind of awesome…and necessary for women.
Hosts Sharon Osbourne, Sara Gilbert, Julie Chen, Sheryl Underwood, and Aisha Tyler agreed to “take it all off” for the premier last season, and stayed true to their mission yesterday when, joined by Jamie Lee Curtis (who went bare-faced and sans photoshop on the cover of More 10 years ago), they event went so far as to rub their faces with a makeup-remover towelette. The
It shouldn’t be surprising that Gawker wasn’t impressed (“The Talk Does Entire Show In Towels Sans Hair And Makeup, Proves That Women Without Makeup Look Like Women Without Makeup,” they wrote), or that others found the episode gimmicky. I have no doubt that the episode was done in large part because producers knew they could drum up great PR (although, full disclosure: no one emailed and asked me to write a glowing review of the show; in fact, I don’t watch ‘The Talk’ at all)–but at least they went all the way, instead of paying lip-service to the trend like so many other celebrities and media outlets have in the past.
In recent months, hordes of celebrities have tweeted photos of themselves without makeup on, and criticism of Hillary Clinton‘s barefaced diplomacy evoked huge backlash. In many ways, daring to not wear a full face of makeup has become a symbol for the rejection of beauty norms and media’s scrutiny of women.
Except in many cases, it’s a very poor one.
Just take a recent interview with Leighton Meester in Cosmopolitan UK: The actress was emphatic about her support of the no makeup trend, telling the magazine: “I don’t care if there are a million photos of me with no makeup. I love being able to walk down the street without it. We should promote women not having to wear makeup, or at least feel we can go out without it.” And yet…the magazine is filled with glossy photographs of the actress heavily made up and photoshopped.
The media routinely applauds actresses and celebrities for looking beautiful in their ‘brave’ no make-up looks–but highlights photos in which said celebs are clearly wearing makeup (just a lot less than they might wear to a red carpet event).
The trend is problematic, to be sure, and it’s hardly a panacea for all of the media’s problems with women. But ‘The Talk”s episode comes off to me like more than a cheesy hat tip to the trend for PR, and until women without makeup become a complete a non-story, I think the ones who are willing to (really) go bare on television and in magazines are still doing the rest of us a valuable service.