So, these days, it’s not just basic selfies that are clogging up Instagram or Facebook news feed, it’s the #nomakeup selfie that’s considered the new movement. Whether or not they are being mocked, a lot of celebrities run around getting their errands done with no makeup on. There are apps out there, which rids of your blemishes and pimples. Makeup products are also offering the ‘natural’ look, but unless you’re really bare-faced, it’s not really natural at all.
Meet 20-year-old Annie Garau who is exploring this predicament with her Born With It Beauty project. While some women refuse to let their partners see their bare faces for at least a certain duration of their relationship, Annie is taking it to a whole different level by going completely makeup-free for the entire year of 2014. Yeah, you read that right, ladies! Props to Annie because she is doing this while in college as a junior. Her aim is simple, clear and inspiring – change the perception of women needing makeup to feel “valuable.”
Thanks to Women’s Health magazine, we are now able to find out what gathered Annie to stick to this pact of her and if her outlook on natural beauty has changed at all since challenging herself to this.
WH: What inspired you to create the Born With It Beauty project?
Annie: I started this project because I had begun to notice just how often my friends and I were putting ourselves down because of how we looked. On a personal level, I thought that it might help my self-esteem if I could learn to accept my looks for what they are and focus on other, more meaningful qualities. I also hoped that other women might relate to what I was doing and maybe learn from my experiment. I came up with the idea just after New Year’s Eve, and I can’t believe I’ve actually made it this far!
What makeup did you wear daily before this started?
I’ve always been subtle about my makeup. Not a lot of bright colors or heavy eyeliner. I would normally wear some cover up, bronzer, and blush in the winter—and brown eyeliner and mascara. For parties, I would usually add eye shadow, lip liner, and lipstick.
Have you noticed people treating you differently now that you’re not wearing makeup?
I’ve feel like people have treated me differently, but I honestly don’t know if it’s because I looked different or was acting different. Guys at parties definitely approached me less [before]. It was probably a mix of how I looked and how uncomfortable I felt. I get hit on less by strangers—but that’s actually turned out to be kind of nice.
Men always say they prefer natural beauty, but has that been your experience over the last eight months?
I’ve talked to guys a lot about makeup since I’ve started the project, and it’s been really interesting. Most of them have never spent more than two seconds thinking about it before. I’ve found that a lot of them say they like girls without makeup best, but they actually have no idea what makeup-free looks like! So they think that they’re attracted to girls with “natural beauty,” but it’s normally girls who are using makeup in a subtle way.
I read that you have a boyfriend—has he been supportive?
My boyfriend has been hugely supportive. I’ve actually tried to quit a few times, and he wouldn’t let me. For some reason, he could see the big picture when I couldn’t. He also loves the fact that it takes me half the time to get ready. It’s been really funny seeing how the experiment has changed his perspective. Now he notices makeup on other girls and thinks it looks weird.
Would you have felt differently about going makeup-free if you were single?
I’ve been waiting for this question since this whole thing started, but you’re the first one to ask! Definitely. I wish I could say that I would have been able to do this single, but I don’t think that’s true. Not having to worry about what guys were thinking about me is the only way I was able to stick with it. Sad but true.
Has not wearing makeup helped you gain confidence?
It has definitely helped me gain confidence, but not in the way I expected. I have had to learn to rely on my personality for confidence, and that’s been really great for me. I love the fact that I can walk into a room of strangers now and be thinking only of how I act and not how I look. I don’t think I’ll ever have a giant beauty epiphany where I realize that I’m actually a supermodel, but I’m much more comfortable with how I look. I care a lot less.
Have you had any other realizations about society as a result of this?
I’ve realized that women can be our own greatest enemy. After making the conscious decision to talk about my appearances less, I began thinking about them less, and then I began caring about them less. Now they just matter less to me! I’ve learned that, even though appearances do impact how people treat you and feel about you, people actually care much more about your personality.
Have you missed wearing makeup for special occasions like formals and date nights?
It does feel weird getting dressed up when I can’t put on makeup, especially since other girls go all out for those occasions, so I stand out even more. It doesn’t feel like as much of a special day because my face looks the same as always, but it’s still fun to get dressed up.
How do other women react when they hear about this project? Have others joined you?
Other women all say they really like my project and have been excited about it, but I haven’t gotten anyone to join me yet! But if any women stop saying bad things about themselves because of the project, then it’s been worth it.
Do you think you’ll go back to wearing makeup after the year is up? Or will you just wear less makeup?
I’m not against makeup; it’s a trivial thing in itself. I’m just against the feeling that I needed it to feel valuable. So I’ll probably wear it for special occasions next year, but I’ll have a totally different mindset.
This interview was conducted by Brettan Hawkins for Women’s Health magazine.