“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled
Was convincing women that they looked
Better in their makeup”
~ Thin Line: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
“When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls!”
~ Ted Grant
The two quotes above were what fueled the inspiration for my final project. Every morning I wake up and the first thing I do is read whatever book I’m on for about half an hour and the second thing I do is put on my face. In high school I suffered from sever cystic acne and while I had a daily routine of putting on mascara and eyeliner and maybe some anti-shine, I honestly thought ‘what is the point of wearing foundation and powder if I already look like shit?’ After taking Accutane my senior year my acne died down but I still have the dull red scars around my temples and chin and somehow that almost makes it worse. So I wear foundation and cover-up and powder along with eye shadow, mascara, eyeliner and lately I’ve taken a fancy to touching up my eyebrows with a pencil as well. I have friends who I’ve seen with and without makeup and one friend of mine told me once that she felt she couldn’t tell her baby sister she was too beautiful to need makeup when she herself caked on the stuff every morning so as a shield for her insecurities.
I know that I, my friends and family will probably never find ourselves on America’s Next Top Model but I wanted to create a series that shows that even with unwanted freckles, under eye circles, imperfect teeth, acne scars, etc. we are all beautiful in our own way. To keep the photographs consistent all of the images have been converted to black and white so as to keep the viewers focus on the women that fill the camera’s frame. None of the models in the photographs are wearing any sort of make up product and similarly I did not ‘touch up’ anyone’s faces afterwards – something I found extremely tempting considering I broke out the night before I photographed myself. Clothing was kept minimalistic with most if not all of my models wearing white to symbolize the purity of their faces.
When I first spoke to my friends about the project I had expected to be turned down due to the nature of the images. Many were hesitant to have the photographs posted to Facebook afterwards but almost all of my family and friends who lived in the immediate area jumped at the chance to help me. Even friends and family outside the state of Oregon and city of Eugene messaged me asking if they could be added to the project over the break when they were back in town for the holidays.
I know most of my friends rallied behind me because they’ve seen or worked with me before but even a few of my new co-workers who had never seen my photographs before were completely willing to come to my aid and be a model for all of the 15 minutes it took to photograph them. I think that really goes to show the changes in our society and the shift that is taking place in the industry where people have become more wary of the photoshopped ‘airbrush’ look and I will ever be grateful to the women who stepped up and out of their comfort zones to help me with this project. I know it was difficult more so for some than others and to be perfectly honestly I was extremely nervous of showing my own face without makeup because it brought back the insecurities of feeling ugly back in high school. But when I thought of that, it made me think of all the young girls and even teenagers and grown women in our society who don’t feel beautiful in their own skin. It also made me think that in the future, I never want my own children to ever think they are ugly without makeup. I know this project might not make a difference worldwide but I at least hope I made a difference in the lives of the women who allowed me to photograph them without their daily armor on.