Each week our no-holds-barred contributor Grace Gold picks apart a hot beauty topic. It’s our version of an op-ed—with lipstick, laser treatments and eyeliner.
There's a major beauty craze that is trending among celebrities, and I'm not talking nail art or ombre.
As The New York Times just reported, stars are going makeup-free and turning smart phones on themselves for candid "au naturel" shots.
Lady Gaga appears to have begun the bare face snap craze, with Rihanna, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Demi Lovato and others following suit in recent weeks. "Sweatpants hair tie chillin with no make up on," tweeted Kim Kardashian the other day, with an accompanying self-pic that shows the reality star amid marble bathroom countertops chock-full of beauty products.
Even dear Snooki has added her two cents, posting a self portrait devoid of her trademark Jersey Shore tan and heavy kohl liner declaring, "My clean canvas before I get artistic!"
What's funny is that the spate of images have caught the attention of tabloids from The Daily News to UK's The Daily Mail as well as the Twittersphere, spreading with the type of wildfire urgency formerly reserved for celebrity photos of an "adult" nature. And therein lies the irony: we're so accustomed to digitally manipulated, unattainably coiffed and madeup-to-perfection images of stars, that a plain ol' snapshot sans makeup now feels like a most rare and treasured treat.
So why the recent uptick in celebrities broadcasting makeup-free photos that are more apropos of running errands at the grocery store, rather than a glitzy spin on the red carpet?
I have two theories.
If you're suspicious of celebrity culture (and aren't we all at least a little by this point?), you could interpret the fad as emblematic of the legendary Hollywood ego. Nowadays, the event preparation process is so transparent that we all know celebrities avail themselves of the best experts for appearances—from professional makeup artists, stylists, advisors and doctors, to expensive lighting and even the much beloved PhotoShop. In posting a no-makeup shot, it could be a sly strategy to garner attention under the rouse that a star is trying to do exactly the opposite, by playing her looks "down." It's like that Facebook friend who pollutes your newsfeed with a constant barrage of annoying "bragdates" instead of status updates, fishing for compliments and envy inducement.
On the other hand, if you give these celebs the virtuous benefit of the doubt, the self-shots could be a conscious attempt to balance the incredible influence of glossy, digitally manipulated photos in the media with "the truth." In light of this, photos are a reminder that the celebrity persona isn't real, and the physical standards of beauty shouldn't be pursued by the public, since they don't really exist. Makeup-free photos could also signal a celeb's desire to feel authentic and like a "real" person apart from a manufactured image.
To that point, take this recent tweet. "I woke up this morning and decided I'm over Hollywood's perfection requirement," said actress AnnaLynne McCord in May, after sharing a blemish-ridden no-makeup shot via social media. "To all my girls (and boys) who have ever been embarrassed by their skin! I'm not perfect—and that's okay with me!" she added.
Personally, I think it comes down to a case-by-case basis with celebrities. Take Lady Gaga, who has a storied history of embracing fans to make them feel more socially accepted, and I could sense that her makeup-free photo comes from an empowering place of shared experience. But Ms. Kardashian—whom I would bet is wearing at least concealer and mascara in her self-proclaimed no-makeup pic (that also conveniently manages to flaunt ample amounts of cleavage in her "sweats")—to her, I say, give me a break.
Tell us—what do you think of the celebrity makeup-free photo fad?