A 20-year-old Miss England finalist created history by becoming the first-ever make-up-free contestant. Melisa Raouf is a student who dared to participate in a beauty pageant with a bare face. And guess what? She entered the finals.
Now she will be competing with 40 women to be crowned Miss England. The absence of make-up didn’t affect her individuality and talent to move forward in the pageant. In an interview, she said, “This is who I am, I'm not afraid to share who I am. I wanted to show who Melisa truly is.” Great going Melisa!
Mellisa Raouf’s experience does teach us many lessons. In our society, where a woman’s beauty is measured by the thick line of eyeliner and brightness of her lipstick, a no-make look in a beauty pageant gives the message that make-up is not a necessity but a choice.
Raouf further said she wanted to challenge the societal standards of beauty by showing the value of inner beauty. "If one is happy in their own skin we should not be made to cover up our face with ">make-up. Our flaws make us who we are and that's what makes every individual unique."
Her aim was also to make women of different age groups understand that they should never wear make-up just because they are pressurised to do so.
Ever since childhood, women are taught to always look good. As she grows older she starts hiding the flaws of the skin by using make-up. They are pressurised to wear make-up in order to look attractive and amass a lot of appreciation for themselves and their family. This is because the beauty of a woman in our society is valued more than her personality and talents.
Recently, I met my aunt after a long time. I did put on lipstick and some kohl in the name of make-up. At this, my aunt was surprised because to her I was looking most beautiful than I ever did. She even went on to say that it is the perfect time for me to get married as prospective grooms will select me immediately because of my transient beauty.
But the question that came to my mind was why should make-up be the determiner of whether I am looking beautiful or not? Why didn’t my aunt find me beautiful when I didn’t apply make-up? Why is this constant pressure on women to wear make-up to look good?
Sometimes, make-up becomes a determining factor for women to get selected for a role. Many firms select women employees on the basis of their looks. In my childhood, I wanted to be a news anchor. But what made my ambition fade was people’s constant comment that you don’t look good enough to be an anchor. Women who are attractive can only make it to the TV screens. I wish at that time if I knew that this was all a facade, I would have followed my dream job.
But Raouf clearly proved that when beauty pageants do not need make-up to win, then why should any other competitions, jobs or choices in life? When a woman can win a beauty pageant without make-up, then how does the idea of make-up being a way to look beautiful hold ground? Is all this not a story cooked up by society to build pressure on women?
For example, when a woman is told that make-up is essential for her and so is adhering to society's beauty standards, she is forced to embrace make-up to hide her flaws. She is made to feel insecure about herself. And we all know how this thought process of not feeling good enough affects mental health. On the contrary, men are never expected to change the way they look. Their flaws and their failure in meeting the standards of beauty are covered up by their salaries and achievements. No matter how a groom looks, his achievement, caste and class become the determining factor of how good he is. But why doesn’t this idea apply to women? Why aren’t women accepted the way they are?
Melisa Raouf’s success proves that we don’t need to put up a mask of make-up in order to be acceptable in society. Even Rouf was insecure about her looks before she started wearing make-up at a young age, She said, “I never felt I met beauty standards. I have recently accepted that I am beautiful in my own skin and that's why I decided to compete with no makeup."
We can thrive and succeed even without rubbing the make-up brush on our faces. We need to enlighten ourselves with confidence in how we are and what we achieve.
Views expressed are the author's own.