First of all, a disclaimer: I don’t actually believe you have to be ugly to bother with make-up. Make-up can be a lot of fun, but I read an article on XOJane that got me thinking about the issue. In “The Trials of a Good Online Dating Profile Photo” Kristin Booker discovers that photos where she’s more natural looking have better results than photos where she’s all tarted up. This seems to come as a surprise to her, but to me it seems obvious.
I’ve always believed that make-up causes more problems than it solves. This is, in part, because just applying a lot of chapstick in the winter usually leads to a pimple for me. When I wear more make-up than usual, the same thing happens. That creates a vicious cycle so I just steer clear of make-up on most days.
I reserve anything resembling foundation for days when I expect to have my picture taken a lot — like when I’m in a wedding. Otherwise, it’s mostly just me and my moisturizer. I have a tendency to rub my eyes, and eye-liner and mascara irritate my eyeballs so that stuff is saved for a night out. I can’t deal with lipstick–I always feel like it’s on my teeth– so gloss is the only way to go for me.
But I can’t tell you how many times my friends have been surprised when a guy hits on them at the gym while she is sweaty and make-up free, or when a boyfriend prefers a simple pair of shorts and a white undershirt to expensive lingerie. This to me translates to: “I can’t understand why he would like me when I look like my normal self.”
I admit, I’m lucky. As long as I treat it right, the skin on my face is pretty good. It gets a little red in spots, and dry in the winter, but those are my big complaints. I don’t have any major sins that need to be covered up just to appear presentable. But my general aversion to make-up doesn’t have much to do with what I look like, but more with how I was raised. My mom rarely wore make-up, and the thing I remember hearing most when it comes to “beauty” was how my aunt was naturally pretty, even without make-up. That aunt just so happened to be the person I resemble most in the world. So as far as my little child-mind was concerned, that meant I was pretty too.
So the message I got at home was basically, “You’re fine the way you are.” And that’s not the message most girls get. Most girls grow up watching their mothers spend hours applying make-up, and dieting, and spending large amounts of time and money on their hair. Don’t get me wrong, I had (and still have) my insecurities. No one is immune. But some people grow up learning to obsess on those things, and some people don’t. One of the best things you can do for your daughter is to teach her she’s just fine the way she is — no matter what.
But I digress… Back to the XOJane article. Unless you’re one of those ladies who sleeps in her make-up or gets up at the crack of dawn to apply your face before your honey wakes up, sooner or later he’s going to get the real picture. Now, I’m not saying you need to be a complete just-woke-up mess in your pictures, but you also don’t want to make yourself up like a pageant queen. When you’ve got that much crap on your face it screams high-maintenance, and probably makes the dudes wonder what’s happening under all that stuff. Are you hiding a crater face? A mustache? Battle scars? A tangled web of insecurities that mean you’ll never get out of the house on time?
When all you’ve got to go on is a photo and a (probably) BS profile, I think it’s probably a good idea to be as honest as possible with your images.