Let me start by saying that I adore Pamela Anderson. Whether that’s with her signature “Pamcore” makeup – all pencil-thin brows, over-lined ’90s lips and smoky eyes – or without it.
And it’s for this reason that I’m begging, please, enough of the instagram posts and newspaper articles about Pammy’s makeup-free face at Paris Fashion Week.
Given the sheer volume of headlines around this one topic, you’d think people had never seen a woman in her 50s leave the house with just well-moisturised skin. Would we honestly be having this conversation if a 20-something influencer was doing the same thing on the front row?
For me, the easy answer is no. I doubt that it would even warrant a line in the many trend reports that have been written about the shows. And if it did, that line would no doubt feature accolades such as “achingly cool” and “nonchalant”.
But when a woman in her 50s chooses not to wear makeup at a high-profile event, it obviously has to be a political statement. The internet goes into meltdown and the furore ignites a debate.
For the detractors, Pamela’s move is simply a bare-faced cheek at the age of 56. But even comments by pro-agers have left me feeling uncomfortable. “It actually takes a lot of work to look this good without makeup”, wrote one, as if only hard work somehow makes it OK for a woman to shun foundation and blusher. Others are peddling the usual back-handed compliment that makeup-free Pamela “looks good for her age”.
Even celebrities have waded into the argument. In a recent instagram post, Jamie Lee Curtis said: “THE NATURAL BEAUTY REVOLUTION HAS OFFICIALLY BEGUN! @pamelaanderson in the middle of fashion week with so many pressures and postures, and and and, this woman showed up and claimed her seat at the table with nothing on her face.” She concluded: “I am so impressed and floored by this act of courage and rebellion.” Selma Blair added in the comments: “Love this. Beautiful self-assuredness.”
In theory, I agree with Jamie (another icon I adore, btw). At GLAMOUR, we smash through glass ceilings and traditional beauty tropes, after all. But as a beauty editor, I celebrate a natural beauty look and solid skincare routine as much as I do a gorgeous makeup look.
As a feminist, I feel very strongly that a woman can show up and claim her seat at the table whether she’s wearing makeup or not.
Ultimately, the problem with this conversation is that we’re having it at all. Whatever side of the fence you’re on, it’s still making a judgment about what a woman should and shouldn’t look like in public. By turning Pamela’s no makeup look into an act of rebellion, it’s potentially othering and demonising those women in their 50s who still love to wear makeup as a form of self-expression.
When she rocked up in Paris, Pamela made a choice about her appearance. And until her makeup-free face made the headlines, she was owning that choice. Now she’s forced to defend it, explaining that her reason for going makeup free is that her long-time makeup artist Alexis Vogel tragically passed away from breast cancer.
In the same way that going makeup-free doesn’t automatically mean that you’re falling on the feminist sword, wearing a slick of red lipstick doesn’t mean that you’ve done it for the patriarchy, either. The bottom line is, Pamela Anderson turned up at Paris Fashion Week wearing clothes. And unless I’m mistaken, that’s the whole point of a fashion show – to let the clothes do the talking?
For more from Fiona Embleton, GLAMOUR’s Acting Associate Beauty Director, follow her on @fiembleton.
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