Susie Rushton: Beauty queen

Saturday 26 July 2008 00:00 BST

Gwyneth has a slightly shiny forehead. Young Peaches Geldof looks a lot younger without her usual black eyeliner, and Charlize Theron has acne scars (ooh!) on her cheeks. Quite a few women in the public eye, it seems, have the temerity to leave the house without full eyebag concealer, powder and mascara. What in Dame Barbara Cartland's sacred name are they thinking of?

Yes, it's the no-slap phenomenon of the summer, a spectator sport that started six weeks back when a rogue's gallery of gals voluntarily posed for portraits sans maquillage, in Heat magazine. That came close on the heels of a singularly pointless event called "National No Make-up Day", intended to reassure the impressionable that famous women are not born with red lips and black eyelashes. This conceit morphed into something more insidious, however, when over the following weeks the mainstream media pitched in with their own sets of snaps, so we could all have a good old pore over famous pores, with every model, telly presenter and entertainer either tiresomely posing with a scrubbed face or getting papped on the beach sans mascara.

Why does it make the news when women don't wear make-up? Cosmetics are a pleasure, protection, adornment, fashion statement. But many women go bare-faced every day without smashing mirrors, causing grown men to faint or inadvertently making fresh flowers wilt. Make-up has become more natural-looking over the past decade, with sheer textures edging out the "Pan-Stik" effect of old, so for the most part our faces don't any longer actually look that different whether naked or painted – just a little "glowier", perhaps. Supermodels without make-up still look super, and pretty television presenters and actresses still look pretty. The only ugly part of is, yet again, how urgently we are encouraged to crow over women's perceived flaws.

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