‘Naked Face’ asks women to reflect on makeup motives

by Madison Garner

No makeup. This idea may panic most women, but when roommates Kate Rapacz and Krisula Steiger heard about The Naked Face Project, a program where women go six days without makeup, they decided to go for it. Their experience influenced them to make it a campus-wide event.

“We realized that it was really empowering so we talked about how awesome it would be to have other women do it,” Rapacz said.

Rapacz and Steiger coordinated bringing the Naked Face Project to Whitworth.

“The Naked Face Project is a time for men and women to come together and learn about the struggles women face with regards to makeup, beauty and modesty in connection to the media and pop culture,” Steiger said. “The purpose of it is to improve self-esteem and self-image for women and to give guys an opportunity to promote that self-esteem in women and help them with their challenges.”

The event kicked off on Tuesday Nov. 13. Founder of The Naked Face Project, Caitlyn Boyle, was on campus to speak about negative self-talk, media influences, Operation Beautiful — a project where people post anonymous encouraging sticky notes in public places — and the Naked Face Project. Students were challenged to go the next six days with no makeup.

Whitworth English lecturer Brooke Watts said she hopes students will try it.

“Whitworth is a safe enough environment to try,” Watts said. “Why not? What’s the worst that can happen? And there are not just students participating, but also faculty and staff. I am participating and other faculty are as well. We want this to be campus wide.”

For non-makeup wearing students, participation can involve going without doing other activities, such as styling hair, Rapacz said.

Participation also takes the form of supporting other students. As students go the week without makeup, they are encouraged to post encouraging statuses on the Whitworth Naked Face Project Facebook page and leave encouraging sticky notes throughout campus. Guys especially can play a big supportive role.

“We can encourage ladies who are doing the project,” freshman Joel Silvius said. “We can acknowledge beauty even when people aren’t wearing makeup, because if men show they support less use of makeup, then it might actually happen.”

The hope is that students will reflect throughout the week. For women who wear makeup, the idea is to think about the reason and heart behind wearing makeup. The goal is not to be makeup haters.

“I honestly don’t think that there’s anything wrong with makeup,” Steiger said. “I think its the heart behind it. When I am putting on makeup, am I putting on “my face” and who I am or am I just dressing up for fun? Feeling confident when you are not wearing makeup and knowing beauty comes from within, is all that matters.”

The project can inspire reflection beyond the use of makeup as well.

“I think the project speaks beyond the level of makeup,” Watts said. “I hope students can think about the body as a whole and how we try to make it conform through diet, exercise, plastic surgery and so on.”

Part of the reflection is considering the influence of media and pop culture on society’s standards of beauty.

“We like to think we make decisions fully on our own, but we don’t,” Watts said. “We make them within society full of expectations and influences that we don’t always think about.”

Society’s influence can even create unrealistic standards of beauty.

“I think pop culture has exaggerated beauty to an unattainable level,” Silvius said. “It would be nice to refocus our ideas of beauty and for society to move its standards to more natural.”

On Saturday, Nov. 17, there will be a panel of guys discussing their opinions on beauty, makeup and modesty.

“I think it’s good to promote self-image and beauty that is not dependent on makeup,” Silvius said. “I can appreciate a little bit of makeup but it’s really easy to overdo. I also really value girls who don’t wear makeup. It displays natural beauty and displays confidence, which is attractive. I think most guys like less makeup than girls think we do.”

The goal is that at the end of the six-day makeup fast, students will have reflected and learned. Last year, when Rapacz and Steiger accepted the Naked Face Project challenge, they learned a lot.

“It totally transformed my thought process,” Steiger said. “I learned a lot about my insecurities even though it was only a few days. I’m not someone who is tied to makeup every single day. I felt like I had a good view of makeup but it was really convicting for me. I did think, ‘Why do I feel so ugly today’ or feel like I do need to wear makeup. I was surprised I had those feelings. I didn’t know I felt that way until I had to go a whole six days.”

For Rapacz, the experience solidified the idea that physical appearance does not define beauty.

“You are not defined by what you look like on the outside,” Rapacz said.

Contact Madison Garner at mgarner16@my.whitworth.edu.

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