Photographed by Mark Iantosca.
I recently found myself on the precipice of a downward rage spiral after reading Leandra Medine's essay on the Man Repeller about how people who follow her blog tell her she's ugly. Sure, when you write for the Internet, you're putting yourself out there for the world to pick apart, but it's so disappointing that her face has become a point of criticism. Her face, by any rational standards, is actually gorgeous — but that's besides the point.
Medine connects these comments about her so-called ugliness (including being accidentally CC'd on an email chain in which a man called her "ugly as f*ck") with equally horrific comments about her lack of makeup. Commenters write things like, "You could be cute but why don’t you wear makeup?” and even her mother says, “Makeup is meant to enhance the natural beauty of a woman, Leandra, so, really, why wouldn’t you use it?”
Medine writes that she doesn't wear makeup mostly because she's lazy. But, she also says, "I don’t hate what I see when I look in the mirror. Even if legions of others don’t agree." Girlfriend, more power to you — most people can't get to that level of confidence even without a chorus of online bullies picking their appearance apart on the daily.
Though Medine's philosophy of man-repelling is obviously not geared toward attracting compliments from men, I'm pretty sure it's not about making men think she's "ugly," either. To clarify what man-repelling is truly about, she writes, "It is not whether you do your hair or curl your lashes... It is how you approach doing those things. Why you do those things, and perhaps most importantly, it is a love letter to individuality."
I, too, like to think of the act of wearing or not wearing makeup as a "love letter to individuality," though I fall on the side of enthusiastic, full-time makeup wearing. For me, going without makeup feels a lot like wearing pajamas in public. It's just not the version of myself I'd like to present to the world. But, that feeling is about my own appearance, not anyone else's. The opposite of a made-up face isn't an ugly face — it's a bare face. The more distance we can create between how we define "ugly" and a woman's natural, makeup-free appearance, the happier we will all be.
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