Bare Faced and Beautiful

By Rachel Benbrook Mason, Regular ContributorOctober 28, 2015


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I often feel naked without my makeup, like I need to hide my face when I don’t put any on. I often feel as if people can see the real me, or they may pick up on dark circles or eyes that are dull and unaccented. Although I personally love wearing make-up, why should I feel inadequate stepping out of the house without it.

Photographer, Steve Osemwenkhae, witnessed a woman applying her make up on the subway, and he became interested in using photography to explore the concept of make up and showcasing natural beauty, as well as to allow women to express their true feelings about makeup, both the positive and negative.

Originally, Osemwenkhae decided to photograph a few close female friends and relatives to put together a project addressing women’s interpretations of make-up in societal standards.

He claims, “I want everyone to have their own voice when it comes to the narrative of beauty, and hopefully I can continue to do that within the next few years with these photos and videos.”

This fascinating photography project encourages women to be photographed without make-up to showcase their natural beauty. Several women who allowed themselves to be photographed shared their feelings about the pictures. One of the ladies stated, “I love and hate makeup, just like I love and hate anything that is both creative and destructive. Treating women’s faces like art is a beautiful idea, but attaching our worth to a mask of ourselves is absolutely destructive. Each woman has to find her balance.”

Many women have responded positively to the project. They have been able to talk about their true feelings about make-up and cosmetics. Some women love it, while others choose not to wear it all, and then many more dislike it but wear it to cover imperfections and meet societal standards of beauty. The project highlights how unique each woman’s response to make-up is.

The exhibition will hopefully continue to foster the conversation about natural beauty and the often unrealistic standards that the highly airbrushed beauty industry wants us to see.

I believe this exhibition introduces conversation about self esteem and beauty. There is nothing wrong with make-up, or with wanting to be our best selves, but we must address that there is something wrong when women feel like they have to use make-up to be beautiful. Wearing make-up and cosmetics should be a personal choice for every woman, and each of us should know we are beautiful in our own skin. We are wholly enough as we are.

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How do you feel when you wear make-up? How do you feel when you don't? Tell us below!

About Rachel

RACHEL_BENBROOK_writer_bio_(2).jpgRachel is a graduate of Oklahoma State University and the University of Leeds where she studied Political Communications. She is a passionate advocate of strong friendships, caffeine, social justice, current events, travels and adventures, as well as all things peanut butter. She enjoys watching Parks and Recreation, as well as teaching English to new language learners.  


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  • commented 2015-10-28 14:26:01 -0700
    I do not wear make up, at all. I can barely remember to put moisturizer on. I remember having full make up for my engagements and wedding photos many years ago, and although I looked great, all I could feel was heaviness on my face. I did not feel like myself. I will every once in awhile wear mascara, but that’s about it.
  • followed this page 2015-10-25 17:33:27 -0700

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