by Lauren Kelley
Could you go 60 days without wearing makeup, shaving your underarms, or wearing deodorant? Would you do those things? Nearly two months ago, two women set out to do just that to see how such an effort would change their perceptions about themselves and their beauty rituals.
Molly Barker and Caitlyn Boyle started the Naked Face Project with the hope that the project would help them "come to a more authentic and genuine understanding of our individual definitions of beauty and how these may or may not play out in terms of our self-worth, power, and sexuality." Since late January, the women have foregone everything that they consider a beauty product or habit: styling their hair, wearing uncomfortable clothing (e.g., tight skirts and high heels), and using anti-wrinkle products. The only concessions they made were for practical and health-based things like blow drying their hair (since the project started in winter) and wearing sunscreen. Anything that was deemed strictly about beauty -- and by their definition, that included deodorant -- was out.
Barker is the founder of Girls on the Run, a group that works to encourage girls to get out of the "Girl Box" that society places them in. Boyle, meanwhile is the founder of OperationBeautiful.com and writes the blog HealthyTippingPoint.com. So both women have spent significant time thinking about societal expectations for women, and that's part of what made them interested in launching this project. As they write on the Naked Face Project site:
Why does [the project] matter?
Molly: “I’ve built my entire life around encouraging girls and women to recognize and activate their potential through embracing a definition of beauty which includes compassion, strength, mindfulness, authenticity and empowerment. I think I’m finally ready to not only cognitively believe this message, but feel, live, and breathe it too. I want to genuinely and with my heart wide open and live in this space. Something is calling me to do this, and I’ve learned to never, ever question that intuitive voice.”
Caitlin: “I really believe that we have a confidence crisis on our hands in this country, especially in the minds of teenage girls and women. I want to do more than pay lip service to the belief that it’s what’s on the inside that counts – I want to truly embrace the philosophy and see what I discover about myself and other people as a result.”
Both women are blogging about their experiences; you can read Barker's posts here and Boyle's here. The women are also encouraging others to join the project by participating in whatever way is meaningful to them and have set up a gallery of participants' "naked" faces.
Image via The Naked Face Project