Earlier this week the hosts of CBS’s “The Talk” kicked off their season by showing their true faces to the world. With no make up, wigs, hair extensions, or beauty aides the 5 women, their guests, and their audience members donned bath robes and slippers for the duration of the show. Each host was a bit timid when they first started the show, but as they got going and started exploring how their identities intertwined with the face they usually show to the world they eased up. One by one, each of the women eventually declared that they felt free or empowered. In doing so, they undoubtedly freed and empowered the women around them.
One of the guests, Jamie Lee Curtis, applauded the women on their make-up free show that was an attempt to add a glimpse of authenticity to television. “It is truth in advertising, and advertising is all lies. And so the idea that you are actually doing something like this is so revolutionary and beautiful, and I’m telling you, the impact this is going to have… you have no idea.” They went on to discuss why women want to wear make up and what impact this has on their self-esteem, a topic Curtis addressed 10 years ago when she posed for More magazine with no make up and no air brushing. She explained that at the time she was promoting a book on self-esteem and felt hypocritical presenting herself to the world without flaws and insecurities. She said, “People who read magazines, audience members, are judging themselves…compare and despair…They’re judging themselves against me. And feeling badly about themselves.”
Images that flood the public through magazines, billboards, film, and television are doctored to portray an image of perfection and beauty that is largely unrealistic. However they are so prevalent, thanks to the world of air brushing and make up, that these images are the ones that shape our perception of what we need to be and sometimes of who we want to be with. Just as Hollywood creates fantastic love stories and tall tales of adventure, the media creates an allusion of attainable perfection in beauty that doesn’t exist as presented, but that can be bought temporarily.
The Talk hosts and their guests are a great example. Each typically presents herself as a well put together, glamorous woman of television. However, when they sat down for an hour without their masks, they looked as if they could be switched out with anyone in the audience. They were any women in America with their natural beauty and authentic personalities shining through. The three soap opera stars who joined the group drove the point home. They explained that they normally sport the natural look and that it’s only their characters who wear gobs of makeup.
By the end of the show, the hosts said that their experience inspired them to wear less make up in the future. Curtis championed them going for more natural looks with make up that accentuated their features rather than covering them up or melding them to fit generic images of beauty. However, the next day they all came out looking just like their head shots.
Despite not having a lasting impact on the show itself, the episode is a valuable reminder of what constitutes true beauty and a reality check for all those striving to be a picture in a magazine.