I watched the tail end of the Miss Universe pageant last night…which apparently was all I needed to watch for the good juicy drama. And the award goes to…Steve Harvey for ‘Most Awkward Television Moment Ever’.
In case you didn’t watch it, here’s what goes down. Mr. Harvey announces the 2nd runner-up is USA (who tries – very poorly I might add – to cover up her instant sore loser face), then it’s down to Columbia and Philipines. This is where shit hits the fan. He proceeds to announce that the new Miss Universe is…Columbia (except it’s not). Apparently he misread or misspoke…whatever the reason, he got it wrong. I get it Steve, it has always confused me too, this first runner-up, second runner-up nonsense. You got caught up in the lights, the glamour, the excitement of it all. I get it. But you must know, you are never going to be allowed to host anything again. Ever.
So anyways, on to the good stuff. They crown Columbia Miss Universe and hand her a giant bouquet of flowers. She cries and awkwardly waves her country’s flag. They play the celebratory music. The crowd cheers. This continues on for about two minutes…until Mr. Harvey comes back to the mic and apologizes that he has made a mistake and announced the wrong winner. What?! Philipines is in fact the real winner. Everyone, myself included is cringing for all three parties involved. Colombia has just had her highest moment turned into a joke on live television. She stands there center stage shocked and confused staring blankly into the crowd; clinging to someone else’s bouquet, wearing someone else’s crown, living someone else’s big moment. Philipines looks equally shocked and confused, and dare I say annoyed (can you blame her? They gave her “moment” to someone else). The crowd booed. All parties involved were uncomfortable at best. Harvey mumbled something about not taking it out on the girls and then practically ran offstage. The former Miss Universe just stood between the two like an awkward bump on a log smiling like a robot (I’m sure she was afraid to de-crown the newly appointed 1st loser for fear of what might happen.) The only thing that could have made the moment more epic would have been if they cut to backstage shot of the people in charge of the pageant that were likely freaking out and trying to figure out how to fix the un-fixable unfolding before their eyes.
While the pageant was unexpectedly memorable, I couldn’t help but think why haven’t pageants evolved? The women are beautiful, or at least I think they are. I’m really not quite sure what any of the girls actually look like because they have so much make up on. This isn’t a feminist rant…I have no problem with celebrating the beauty of women and fully believe that women shouldn’t be ashamed to flaunt their physical appearance. But, I wish someone would make this ‘beauty’ contest something more. Aside from the blatant superficial nature of pageants, I acknowledge they do also emphasize promoting social platforms and using the women’s god-given and/or store-bought good looks to actually DO something. And while they are judged on they way they walk in a pretty dress and their ability to fill out a swim suit, most pageants also have some “other” measure of beauty like talent or q&a on current events and social issues.
My question is this…what are we basing the evaluation of physical beauty on? Why is it all so, well, fake? Why is there no “natural beauty” category to the competition? Wouldn’t it be refreshing if alongside all the time-honored glitz and glamour there was also an event free of sequins, makeup, hairspray, and whatever else they shellac on? Wouldn’t it be nice if these women were allowed to strip it all off and strut their stuff down the catwalk baring it all – and no I don’t mean naked (get your minds out of the gutter)…I mean no primping and prodding, just bare-faced the way they wake up on a Sunday morning. Wouldn’t that be awesome, and empowering and send a killer message to young girls and women of all ages really? It would be amazing if these pageants sent a message that in order to be “beautiful” or worthy of a title, all you have to be is you. You don’t need contouring or an expensive blowout or a one of a kind dress.
I don’t wear makeup most days, and if I’m honest, when I have a lot of makeup on I feel like I’m dressing up for Halloween. But I am well aware this is not the norm. In our day of YouTube makeup tutorials and beauty bloggers, there are so many women that won’t leave the house without makeup. There are even women who actually sleep in makeup so their husbands, boyfriends and significant others can’t see them at what they believe is their “worst”. How sad is it that we are taught to be embarrassed by the way we look without any makeup on? This is how we should be viewed as our most beautiful!
Oddly enough I have been struggling with the entire concept of wearing makeup now that I have a VERY inquisitive audience as I get ready in the morning. My son is fascinated by the idea of putting on makeup. He asks what I’m doing every step of the way. He asks if daddy needs makeup. Why mommy puts on makeup. Why he can’t have makeup. Some of the questions are more loaded than others…but the one I constantly struggle to answer is ‘Why does mommy NEED to put on her makeup?” The simple answer is, because. The fact that my 2-year-old doesn’t understand WHY we do it highlights the simplicity of how unnatural it all is. He never asks why I need to get dressed or why I brush my hair. He doesn’t wonder why shoes need to be worn outside or why I have to clean or make dinner. Those questions have clear, concise and logical answers. Once I explain them it is understood. Asked and answered.
But the makeup. He struggles with the makeup…and I totally get it. Why would it make sense? How could he understand something that I don’t even understand. I mean, I know why I put on makeup in the basic sense of it. I put on make up because I feel more attractive when I have it on. I put on makeup to cover up the perceived imperfections in my skin. My ruddy cheeks, my randomly sparse eyebrows. I do it to highlight my eyes and downplay my thin lips. I put on makeup to try to cover my insecurities. I put on makeup because I’ve been taught by society that I’m “supposed to” that it somehow makes me more beautiful. That it should be a part of my daily routine. That because I’m a woman, leaving the house with a bare face is somehow not O.K.
That’s the truth. And if I’m quite honest…it’s a truth I don’t want my son to know or understand or believe. So I don’t know how to answer his questions.
I always hated the fact that my mom never “taught” me how to put on makeup. I look back at photos of myself in high school and think..ugh if only I knew how to make my self look “better” back then. The older I get, however, the more thankful I am that my mom never taught me how. She was and still is a natural beauty and makeup minimalist. She put on makeup every day, we couldn’t even go down the stairs to open our Christmas presents until she had done so…but she was the queen of the 5-minute face. She never used foundation or did crazy contouring. She used the bare minimum – a little mascara, some tinted moisturizer, a sweep of eyeshadow and maybe some blush. My mom is beautiful – with and without makeup. And to be honest, she wears so little makeup that there isn’t much of a difference either way. I hope to influence my son (and someday if I have daughters) in the same way. I want my son to grow up believing a woman is her most beautiful without makeup.
It would be so refreshing if we all believed that. Imagine if more women went out with no makeup on. If less really was more. If we could “bare” it all with confidence and not feel like it’s only ok when we don’t have plans and are just running errands or staying home all day. Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t hide from photos or feel like we have to wear makeup to be the most beautiful version of ourselves. It’s not something we think about often because it’s this understood social norm – women wear makeup. We just do it. We believe we have to. But men…men don’t. They are attractive without it. Why is it different for us? I love great makeup and products. I have far too many “points” on my V.I.B. at Sephora. But, I also wonder sometimes…why? Why and how and when did it become this rule? And how can we change it? How can we show young girls that crazy contouring or wearing so much makeup you aren’t recognizable is NOT beautiful. They don’t need it. They can be beautiful just they way they are?
I don’t know the answer. But I do know that in my house, with my children…I can change the dialogue. I can shift the expectation. I can show my kids that makeup doesn’t make you beautiful. It doesn’t NEED to be put on every day. I can teach them that the most beautiful version of oneself is the one without anything “added”.
And to the ‘beauty’ pageants I say this…it’s great that you push social causes. I don’t think you objectify women, but I do think you perpetuate a stereotype that true beauty is everything unnatural and fake. Think of the impact it would make if someone took a bold chance to show up without all the crap. To walk on the stage truly as the most beautiful form of themself – the version without makeup and special tricks. I’m still waiting for that day. And hopefully it will come. In the meantime I will try to teach my son that mommy doesn’t in fact need makeup. I will wear less, and embrace the features that make me beautiful just the way I am. And I will wonder – what do those beauty queens really look like?
Let’s start a momentum…maybe just one day a week, whether you have somewhere great to be or not, you go with a clean face, no makeup – just you. How about #freshfacefriday ?! End the week and go into the weekend as YOU.