How makeup-free celebs are inspiring better body image

Stars including Kim Kardashian, Lady Gaga and JLo have jumped on board the no-makeup bandwagon to help drive healthier beauty standards.

Since social media took off more than a decade ago, it has often been criticised for projecting unattainable standards of beauty.

But some celebrities are tackling the problem head-on by posting makeup-free selfies in a bid to show a more “real” side.

Stars including Kim Kardashian, Salma Hayek, Cardi B, Kylie Jenner, Lady Gaga, Helen Mirren, Alicia Keys and JLo have jumped on board, helping inspire their millions of followers to be content in their own skin.

“When YOU ON TOP the miserable and the ugly love to screenshot pictures while you in motion then criticize your face. I’m confident in my own skin,” wrote Cardi B as she posted a no-filter, no makeup video on Instagram in February.

Many bored-at-home celebs have ditched makeup during COVID lockdowns, with stars including Zoe Kravitz and Kelly Clarkson posting bare-faced selfies and videos in quarantine.

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How social media influences body image

Macquarie research fellow Dr Jasmine Fardouly, who has studied the impact of social media on young people’s mental and physical health, says there’s much to learn from the makeup-free movement.

Her research has found viewing idealised selfies increases women’s face-related concerns, while looking at no-makeup selfies reduces the negative impact of idealised selfies.

“We’ve found posting natural, unedited no makeup images may be helpful for women’s body image,” she says.

“This may be because part of the reason social media can be harmful is the beauty ideals being promoted are unattainable, edited and unrealistic.

“Posting natural, unedited, unselective images reduces the extent to which people think others are more attractive than them.”

But mental health and counselling expert Jessica Keogh cautions that just because a celebrity is not wearing makeup, it does not necessarily mean their look is natural.

“In that sense, the makeup-free selfie can be problematic because people can still perpetuate an unrealistic example of what ‘natural’ looks like,” says Jessica, founder of The Body Positive.

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How to make a feel-good social feed

“Aside from ads, everything else on social media we can control,” says Dr Fardouly.

“We choose who we follow, we choose what we post, we choose what we comment on, so we can create a healthier environment online.

“That might mean unfollowing accounts that promote unrealistic beauty ideals and following accounts that post more realistic versions of their lives, but also following accounts that have nothing to do with appearance.

“There’s so many different pages on social media dedicated to interior design, food, whatever it may be, so when you’re scrolling on your feed you’re not just bombarded with images of glamorous people.”

Jessica’s tips for creating a healthier body image environment include:

  • Diversify what your eyes consume
  • Curb the internal and external critic
  • Focus on what your body does rather than what it looks like
  • Make non-appearance-based compliments
  • Get used to the natural version of yourself

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Written by Charlotte Brundrett. Main image: @salmahayek, Instagram