For years, comedian Pippa Evans has spent half an hour each day putting her face on, having been told that without makeup she looks like a biscuit. For 100 days, she’s going to bare her biscuity face to the world to see what happens.
Not many people see this last face. That is because I wear makeup pretty much every day. Not loads: I am not a clown (not the circus kind, anyway), and I am not a user of FenceFace, but always, always mascara.
When I was a young lady, my mother would say to me, “You must always wear mascara otherwise you’ll look like a biscuit” – something her mother had said to her. And her mother said to her. And so on, back in time to before biscuits existed when it was “…you’ll look like a bowl of gruel” or “….you’ll look like a pile of unused thatch” etc. So for many years I dutifully wore mascara and covered up any shiny bits or spotty bits and made my face the kind of face I thought people would want to look at.
When I don’t wear makeup, people tend to ask, “Are you ill?” – which, of course, I like to respond to by mouthing “chemo” just to see their reaction, although really it sends me flying back to the concealers and powders and lip tints, hoping that by placing them on my porcelain skin, I will become acceptable again.
At the beginning of the year, I started to think about it. Why do I have to make sure that I don’t look like a biscuit? Will things really change if I don’t wear makeup every day? Doesn’t everyone love biscuits?
There is a lot of advertising for makeup – especially the no-makeup makeup look. A video on YouTube shows how to apply Lancome’s new “no-makeup makeup”, costing around £150. My second thought was, “This is ridiculous”, but my first was, “I want it” and that first thought scared me. How have I been sucked in to this world where I would consider paying £150 for a set of makeup to look like I am not wearing makeup? How has it happened that my actual no makeup face is no longer deemed acceptable and that to appear to be wearing no makeup, I must wear makeup?
When I saw a magazine featuring the article “You too can go makeup free!”, I hoped it would tell me to throw away my no-makeup makeup and let my skin enjoy the fresh London smog. Instead it simply advertised hundreds of pounds worth of the products needed to go makeup free. Am I going mad? Is the whole world going mad? How can my face not be good enough to be my face?
In a Ted Youth talk, politics professor and radical feminist Caroline Heldman asks – and I paraphrase – “What would women achieve if they didn’t feel that spending an hour on their face was as important (if not more) for their success, than actual work?” It struck a chord. I spend at least half an hour (if not more) a day grooming myself just to go about doing basic tasks. That’s half an hour I could spend writing material, watching Gossip Girl on Netflix or finding the cure for cancer. It’s my time, dammit.
So I hereby vow to spend the next 100 days as a biscuit. Makeup is allowed where it’s vital to a job (TV/filming jobs or character work), but for all other events – parties, dinners, Tesco etc – I must be in proud biscuit form.
Each week, I shall report back with my findings, researching and interviewing people along the way. Our relationship with makeup is fascinating: for some it’s a friend, for others an enemy and for some a lifeline without which they could not function. Let’s find out how strong makeup’s pull is. Wish me luck.5421 Views
Pippa Evans is a comedian, improviser and the co-founder of Sunday Assembly. She lives in London.