I’m devastated that Michael K shut down his long-running celebrity-gossip blog Dlisted this June. First, because Dlisted WAS the Internet for me from 2005 to 2010. Second, because he would have covered the hell out of today’s wall-to-wall media coverage of Pamela Anderson’s makeup-free face at Paris Fashion Week. Michael K was on the SANS FARDS (no makeup) beat (pun not intended, but it’s staying) since at least 2009, when French Elle put an un-made-up Monica Belluci on its cover.
By April 2012, Michael K was writing, “It seems like every month some magazine is stripping the coats of lacquer off of the faces of celebrities and semi-celebrities to show regular women that these famous hos look just like you in their natural states …” Basically, the excitement over a makeup-free celebrity has been going on a long time.
I first commented on the trend 13 years ago — almost to the day — when I wrote, “Last month, I skipped participating in No Makeup Week. It seemed unnecessarily puritanical and you know how I feel about Puritans. … Personally, I have no fear that I am so dangerously addicted to makeup that I need an intervention. I often spend all day with no makeup on.” As do a lot of women, without any fanfare. Don’t get me wrong: Pamela Anderson not only looked good, but she was brave, because she had to know that tout le monde was going to be commenting on her face, and that’s a hard thing to take. It’s intrusive. Especially because Pamela was previously traumatized by the unsympathetic and very public reaction to the theft and sale of the intimate tape she made with then-husband Tommy Lee.
Maybe I’m projecting though, because I feel intruded upon by the reaction to Pam’s bare face! There’s so much commentary, and often the enthusiastic approval comes with a side of judgment. The sweeping statements I’ve read about “This is how a woman should be” — well, what if some of us don’t want to be just one way or another? I’m not wearing makeup now, and I haven’t worn it all week, but maybe I’ll wear it next week.
Why can’t I have options? Why can’t we all have options? Why can’t we have true bodily autonomy as long as the decisions we make don’t threaten another living, breathing person? The deadly attacks on trans rights, gay rights, and reproductive rights — and the brutal policing of Black bodies — it’s exhausting. And that’s just in the U.S. In Iran, the government has killed over 500 people since September 2022 for protesting the murder of Jina Mahsa Amini by literal morality police who attacked her for revealing some of her hair. Compared to those issues, of course, the latest way of judging female/femme faces seems petty, but who among us needs even an iota more of devaluation on top of all the violence? This comment about the body-positivity movement, shared by FinleyForever on Instagram, really stood out to me today:
I would tweak that to say “physical features” rather than flaws, because one person’s flaw is another’s ideal. But the gist of it is that you don’t have to like another person’s presentation or sympathize with it. In fact, you can be totally bewildered and/or bothered by how someone looks. That’s still not an invitation to ascribe a certain morality to them or suggest unasked-for “improvements.” Just … find somewhere else to put your energy. If you need some ideas, start here.