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Makeup Free Kylie Minogue and Chrissy Teigen: The Headlines That Undermine a Woman's Right to Choose

21/04/2016 14:41 | Updated 21 April 2016

Kylie Minogue, Imogen Thomas, Emilia Fox and Chrissy Teigen all made headlines in the last 24 hours for the same reason - not wearing makeup.

'Makeup free Kylie Minogue, 47, gazes longingly at her fiancé Joshua Sasse, 28, as they stroll hand-in-hand after touching down in London'

'Imogen Thomas goes makeup-free and dresses down in her gym kit as she heads out with her two daughters'

'Makeup free Emilia Fox swaps her red carpet style for wacky multi-coloured jumper and dungarees as she hauls bags to her car'

Let's sidestep the fact that the Daily Mail thought it necessary to flag up Kylie and Joshua's age gap and focus on the ends of all three headlines, which give away the truth - this is not news.

These are three women going about their daily lives. Three women who happen to own faces. Faces on which they sometimes choose to wear makeup and sometimes, - shock, horror - they choose not to.

There is an implicit suggestion here that a woman leaving the house without makeup is doing something so subversive it's newsworthy and she's asking to be papped.

I don't for a second believe that the Mail journalists are truly amazed that these women don't have their makeup permanently tattooed on, so what motivates them to write these articles?

The prominence of the words 'makeup free' in these headlines points to the fact this is a winning formula that attracts page views. We, the faceless public, are intrigued by the idea of a celebrity without makeup. (Further proof of the the value the Mail feels these stories carry is that in the course of writing this blog three more were published).

Why the interest? Perhaps it is because we want to see the 'real' person behind the performance, or is there something darker at play here? Do we like the idea that the paparazzi have caught a successful woman at a time when she is not 'camera-ready' so we can knock her down a peg or two? Some of the bile posted in the comments sections of these articles would suggest the latter.

The flipside to this is the argument that a woman 'brave' enough to be photographed without makeup is something to be applauded - and that these women are fighting the good fight against patriarchy simply by not applying foundation.

Yahoo published a 'makeup free' story on 20 April, deciding that 'Chrissy Teigen Shared a Makeup-Free First Look With Baby Luna' was the best way to sell a story about the first photo of the new mum and her baby daughter.

"Teigen chose to show a more natural (and nurturing!) side of herself," Yahoo stated.

While the article's tone is positive, commenting on Teigen's glow and "gorgeous ombre" hair, the idea that makeup and being a nurturing mother are somehow incompatible is a worrying one.

Does a coat of mascara really make a woman less "natural"?

The Yahoo article also kindly offers advice on how you too can achieve naturally clear skin like Teigen.

And there's the kick.

Because although this article purports to be a celebratory comment on the fact a woman feels confident enough to share a makeup free photo on a platform filled with filtered selfies, this is actually a cautionary tale about the type of woman who should feel comfortable showing her makeup free face in public.

I'd always thought it was my choice to wear (or not to wear) makeup - a choice I got to make on a daily basis. Wearing makeup does help to make me feel more confident. Applying it is part of a ritual that helps me get ready to face the day.

But the idea that I can't leave the house without it (at least not if I don't want to make a statement) - that makes me feel trapped.

Women aren't being disempowered by their choice to wear makeup - or their choice not to - they're being held back by people who tell them that decision is a loaded one.

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