I've been away for a while, so I appreciate there's a slight chance I may have lost my mind, what with spending the last two weeks not staring at a laptop screen for ten hours a day. But my square eyes are back and they're aching to call Pretty Girl Bullshit on that most heinous bastion of selfless philanthropy: Children in Need.
But wait. Because this really has nothing whatsoever to do with Children in Need as a charitable resource, and I in no way want to criticise or demean what they do. I'm not about to accuse Pudsey of being a bigoted, chauvinist patriarch, because I'm not insane. This is a fight I need to pick with whichever moronic PR agency was hired to come up with their fundraising ideas.
According to their new "BearFaced" campaign, a woman removing her make-up for one whole day is the kind of grand gesture that the general public should support with charitable donations. Gaze upon the hideous, unpainted visages of the famous women they've roped in to help promote the campaign – the horror... the horror. It's an idea that has nothing to do with criticising the unrealistic representation of women in the media, which would have made more sense.
No. Instead, it offers a pretty basic transaction: we "brave" the world without make-up, and people recognise our sacrifice and sacrifice their own donations to CiN. Or, as the artist Jo Wood puts it, "I hope that women across the UK will leave the make-up at home for the day to help change the lives of children who really do need our help."
What did I miss, over here in my world of make-up being a choice for women (and men) to apply if and when they please? You’d think a charity, of all things, would recognise the importance of people having the confidence to leave their houses wearing no make-up without being as applauded and encouraged as someone who's dedicated six months to training for, I don't know, a charity marathon. Should I be wearing a donation box around my neck when I dare to venture outside EVERY SINGLE DAY barefaced, compelling people to throw pound coins in my direction under the false impression that I must be collecting for sick, abused and impoverished children? (I guess if I did, I'd also need a helmet.)
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of things right with the idea of presenting un-photoshopped women. If we keep going in the direction we’re headed, girls are going to grow up applying daily temporary face tattoos that give you Cara D brows, Iggy Azalea cat-eyes and Georgia Jagger lips – all you have to do is wet it and hold it to your skin until the backing slips off, and voila, you're acceptable for public life. But, if anything, cluelessly marauding into the anti-airbrushing debate is worse than doing nothing. In one fell swoop, it confirms the endless stereotype that all women wear make-up every day, alienating anybody who chooses not to.
Weirdly, they've also only included white women in their “celebrity” campaign (at least on the BBC, anyway). This doesn't do much to explode the stereotype that make-up and grooming is predominantly aimed at white women, a huge factor in the stunningly monopolised Western make-up industry, whose biggest companies are still embarrassingly bad at creating products for any skin shade other than milk bottle. Yawn.
I know everybody talks about how the internet has made us a bunch of lazy, self-involved sieves (shouts to you, Jonathan Franzen) who rely on Facebook to remind us of our family’s birthdays and Google search to remind us how to speak language, but I still manage to be surprised that so little thought is going into nationwide campaigns from companies run by amazing, intelligent and generous people. Which leads me back to my original point: this kind of idiocy must be the fodder of brain dead PR companies whose sole motivation is garnering enough Twitter attention to fill a spreadsheet.
We need to dig this pustule out from beneath the skin of our society and reclaim intelligent, considered media campaigns. Otherwise the PR industry will take over and everyone in the country will end up becoming victims to insane, alienating press releases that make you feel bad for doing something totally normal – like, IDK, picking up a pint of milk without being made-up like Nicki Minaj at last year's BET awards.
Oh yeah, and, uh, sponsor me?
Follow Bertie on Twitter: @bertiebrandes
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