Mind Matters — Unkempt Hair, the Oscars, Makeup, and the Self

Okay, let’s start out with “Unkempt Hair.” American Experience’s (a PBS documentary series) recent theme was the presidency of William Clinton. The narrator remarked, in passing, about Hillary Clinton’s “unkempt hair” in President Clinton’s early career. The implication was that her hair style over the years had morphed from unruly and wild to more dignified and tamed. In other words, she was being judged as a woman by how her hair “behaved” or didn’t. The fact that the brain beneath the hair was rather brilliant was offset by the focus on her “wildness.” We really can get caught up in trivia under the guise of what we deem important.

Importance too is granted to the rich and famous: the Hollywood celebrities with Oscars are in the headlines this week. While the culture again dictates what the unreachable “norm” is in form and fashion, there is a counterpoint. The Renfrew Center declared the day after the Oscars as “no makeup day.” A nationally known treatment center for eating disorders with its main facility in Philadelphia, the Renfrew Center, proclaimed February 27 this year as a day to be “barefaced,” to bring home to women of all ages, the sense of being satisfied with our natural looks. Self-image is so often defined (and maligned) by the prevailing culture.

What a joy to be able to affirm oneself sans makeup and with natural hair—unkempt even! Why just one day? Why not every day? The bottom line, of course, is about recognizing that true self- worth has nothing to do with appearance or how someone else judges our looks (that goes for both men and women). Once we are confident within, then how we dress or “do” makeup becomes our personal choice, a personal statement of self, not a “should” or a “shame.”

(Of note: The event of February 27 was the kickoff to Renfrew’s “Barefaced and Beautiful, Without and Within” campaign as part of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week—February 26 to March 3.)