Here's an Idea: Stop Commenting on How I Look When I Don't Wear Makeup

no makeup portrait


At a previous job, I had to go to work right before a 19-hour flight to Asia. I decided to wear my go-to airport outfit—sneakers, leggings, tank, and a bomber jacket—and go makeup free. A co-worker, whom I still love dearly, took one look at me and asked, "Are you hungover?"

Once in high school, a friend told me I looked absolutely terrible. When I looked at her confused, she said I looked so different. I told her that I just wasn't wearing any makeup. Our friendship didn't recover from that.

Because of reactions like those, I now have a fear of leaving the house without makeup. I wish I was strong enough to ignore all those comments, but I'm pretty sensitive, especially to any type of criticism, and super self-conscious.

If we are truly this wise modern community that embraces people's individualities and unique features, why is it still such a shock when women decide to not wear makeup? Even more importantly, why do people make such rude comments about women's natural appearance?

studio portrait of red-head

Yuliya Shauerman / Getty Images

We here at Byrdie believe that everyone has the right to define beauty on their own terms. If you have a pimple or dark circles you want to cover up, we'll show you the best concealers for your skin type and tone. If you are all about that #nomakeup selfie, we'll be here singing your praises.

Makeup is not a necessity. We like to think of it as a tool for women to use as a power statement when they want to, not as a requirement to hide what society thinks are imperfections. And if there are days where you just want to go barefaced, we should have every right to do so without any judgment.

We asked all of you, our readers, to share stories of when people rudely commented on your not wearing makeup. The responses we got really proved that no-makeup shaming is most definitely a thing. This is our PSA that it needs to stop.

Scroll below to see what others had to say.

People Thinking You Have a Disease/Sickness

"I get these horrid dark circles under my eyes, so when I'm not wearing concealer (my life raft), I've definitely gotten the good old, 'Wow, you look so tired—have you been sleeping?' But I think by far the worst thing anyone has ever asked was whether I had pink eye (my eyes are also prone to redness). It'd be bad enough for someone to ask me if I was sick, but pink eye? That's on another level. And I really wish I could remember what my response was."

portrait of girl in coffee shop

Igor Ustynskyy / Getty Images

"When I was a freshman in college, I stupidly signed up for this 7 a.m. Voice & Movement class in the theater department (I was trying very hard to find myself). One day I showed up without my normal eyeliner, mascara, and lipstick, and the crazy instructor, who was a total theater-teacher stereotype—the loose clothes, the insane theater vocabulary ('Breath in from the depths of your pelvic floor!')—told me I looked deathly ill and had me sit out of class. Literally, the only thing different about me was a wasn't wearing makeup. I hated that class, so I was happy to sit out, but for about a day, it made me feel really freaking ugly. How about we put a cultural ban on telling people they look sick or tired—it's like assuming someone is pregnant. Just not a smart thing to do!"

"I had an ex-boyfriend tell me that I looked like a cancer patient without makeup. He's obviously my ex for a reason."

People Thinking You Have a Problem With Cleanliness

"The worst was at the airport lounge where a little girl who wanted to sit next to me asked her mom what's wrong with my face. I didn't get angry or anything, because I think it's really good that children are curious about new things they haven't seen. The worst was her mother's answer: 'Ew, she is dirty and doesn't wash her face. Let's get out of here!' Then she took her daughter and ran away."

People Thinking There's Something Wrong With Your Skin

closeup portrait no makeup

Sisoje / Getty Images

"On one occasion when I was breaking out but still chose to go barefaced, I heard someone comment under his breath, 'Your skin is messed up.' That bothered me so much for the rest of the day; I wanted to hide. I had cystic acne for many years from the time I was a teenager, and that was a constant theme."

"I was asked by a teacher, when I was younger, if someone had punched my eyes, because I have very thin skin and dark circles are deep."

"Wow, the veins under your eyes are very visible. You should probably wear more concealer."

People Being Insensitive

"Being on holiday in Argentina, I was all relaxed and felt comfortable enough to go out makeup free to the local bakery, where the lady who worked there said, 'Oh, you're one of those, one of those albinos!' She then proceeded to call her whole family from the back room to come and take a look at this rare sighting."

People Thinking You Look "Worse"

"From a guy I had started dating (in bed, post-sex): 'So you weren't wearing makeup today, right? And none yesterday, either? Huh, you looked crazy-hot in your Bumble photos. But you were wearing makeup then, right?'"

"A sweet old woman once told me, 'I could tell you weren't wearing any makeup, because you looked ugly.'"

"I once received, 'You would be so pretty if they could fix those dark circles under your eyes.'"

People Thinking Makeup Is Important For Your Career

portrait in the city

recep-bg / Getty Images

"We have a 'makeup encouraged' policy at my high-end retail job, where I am a part of the management team, but makeup is not required. When I started working there, I wore makeup that was full-faced but "natural" looking. After a few months, I had my eyebrows microbladed, and my skin began clearing up, relieving two of the insecurities that led me to wear makeup in the first place. When I started wearing less, the same manager I started with called me out in front of the rest of the team for wearing less makeup, saying that looking sloppy is what would lead to a decrease in my sales. All the while, I was still dressed appropriately in professional attire and kept my look groomed. Disappointed that a woman told me I couldn't do as good a job without all the makeup on."

"I hardly ever wear makeup to work, and one day I felt like doing a little extra, so I did my makeup. Although he meant it in a nice way, one of my male coworkers said, 'Wow, you look so professional and done up today!' It bugs me that literally the only thing I had done differently was put on makeup. Men don't wear makeup to look professional, so why should women have to?"

Next up, read up on what activities can help make you happy when you're having a bad day.

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