BearFaced sexism

On Friday, celebs and women across the country went ‘BearFaced’ to raise money for BBC Children in Need.

Children in Need is a great charity and undoubtedly deserving of support, but I am horrified at the idea that going without make-up is something so unusual and wacky as to be worthy of sponsorship.

What kind of message is this sending to little girls? That they HAVE to wear make-up to be normal? That’s not healthy. In fact I think it’s part of a wider problem.

I have two sons. When they were born I thought they were perfect. I still do. So, fortunately enough, does society. Their natural state is pretty good. They’re expected to wear clothes and maybe get a hair cut. When they’re older they might want to have a shave. That’s it.

Imagine a baby girl. She’s also perfect. But as she gets older she’s told over and over again that her natural state isn’t good enough. Her tiny ears are pierced. Her perfect head is wrapped in a stretchy hairband, even though she hasn’t got any hair. When she starts school she might want to run around in the playground, but those little ballet slippers she wears mean her feet get so cold, and they don’t stay on if she runs, so she stays still.

When she hits puberty it’s even worse. Suddenly she’s getting curves and boobs and hair – and hang on, they’re not right. She has to remove all the hair that shows she’s a grown up (sometimes in humiliating and painful ways), she has to straighten her hair, or add extra bits to her hair, or – when she can afford it – get hair extensions. She has to don false eyelashes (her own aren’t long enough), and wear a faceful of heavy make-up every, single day. She has to diet away those curves (gotta have that thigh gap) and when her boobs disappear because she’s so thin, she has to buy some new ones.

Okay so that’s a bit extreme, but I really believe we’re telling a whole generation of girls and young women that their natural state is disgusting, or nasty or simply not good enough. They’re told that unless they look like a doll, they’re not worth bothering with. Of course BBC Children in Need isn’t causing that but making a big deal of going without make-up, asking people to get sponsored to go without make-up, is adding to the belief that for a woman, normal isn’t normal. And I don’t think that’s good enough.

You can donate to BBC Children in Need here:



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