Six weeks without a toothbrush, shower or makeup

// 24 August 2007

A woman went six weeks without makeup, washing or brushing her teeth, and recording the whole thing for the BBC, reports the Daily Mail.

As usual with these types of ‘social experiments’, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, this raises some interesting questions about the rigerous beauty regime so many women put themselves through. Noteably, the Mail conflates this into every single woman in Britain, which is hardly true.

But by not only cutting out make-up and extraneous products, but completely ceasing to wash herself at all or brush her teeth, doesn’t that take it a bit far? Doesn’t it actually conflate applying loads of makeup, anti-aging creams and God knows what else, with simple hygiene? The two are not actually linked.

The experiment was prompted by concern over the amount of chemicals she was slathering on herself, but surely water doesn’t come under that catagory?

“I always think I look absolutely terrible if I haven’t washed my hair that morning, when the reality is that other people don’t really notice at all,” she says. “The idea that we need all these products and that we have to be clean at all times is endemic in society, and I wanted to see what happened when I stopped washing altogether. Would I lose all my friends? Would I stink to high heaven? Or would life just carry on as normal?”

It is quite interesting that apparently no-one noticed – or at least professed to notice or reacted negatively towards her – until she told them. At that point, other mothers were pulling their children away from her outside the school gates and her own progeny were refusing to be cuddled.

“It’s as though we have been so brainwashed by advertisers to think that we must use these products every day that the thought of using none at all was too much for them to bear. After all, until that point they’d been merrily standing next to me every day as though there was nothing out of the ordinary.”

And, of course, there is the beauty-standard-friendly conclusion: her skin actually looked better without all the products! Of course, that didn’t stop the Daily Mail pushing the party line by using a made-up, professionally taken “before” photo of her grinning away, compared to a grainy screenshot from the TV programme of her with a miserable expression on her face. All in all, this sounds like yet another documentary that promises to unpick the relationship between the average woman and her beauty regime, but stops short of the task.

Photo by Mrs. Reed, shared under a Creative Commons license

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