Why Wearing Makeup Every Day Doesn't Mean I'm Hiding My 'True Self'

by Lena Elkins

OK, I admit it. I've recently been catching myself saying a lot of “white girl” things.

Last week, I casually told someone you can use coconut oil on anything, I defended a feminist statement by saying “I took a women and gender studies class in college" and I shamelessly cried when a bag of organic almonds exploded in my purse.

I know what you're thinking: NOT THE ALMONDS. Yes, the f*cking almonds. But really, I know what you're thinking is, "Jeez, Lena. Get it together and stop sharing this stuff in public."

But I can't. I can't because my personality is defined by word vomit.

I need to share everything all the time, good and bad. Not because it makes me feel “free” or closer to others, but because I genuinely don't care. It's as natural to me as drinking water.

So, why am I like this? Because I like who I am, I say what I want to say and I don't apologize for my white girl comments or other “embarrassing” actions.

Because I am a white girl. I was raised among thousands and thousands of white girls, and the only slight difference between me and those girls was that I'm Jewish (#MarinCountyProblems). I know who I am, and I've never been afraid to share it, which makes me wonder…

Why is transparency and openness suddenly a marketing trend?

At least in the content marketing world, all anyone talks about is the value of open, honest content. And I'm like, "OK, but what were you people doing before that?" Isn't this kind of obvious? Being yourself isn't natural to you? You have to force your feelings by deeming them trendy, and then write thousands of blog posts about them?

Maybe this “trend” isn't the worst of all trends. I mean, we're preaching honesty here, not theft or drug use, right? But here is when it crosses a line:

When marketers preaching vulnerability and transparency skew their sentiment into a war against women and their faces. That's right, people. I'm talking about the makeup.

My face isn't hiding anything.

A colleague recently told me that I should share more video content “Totally natural, no makeup. Just myself." This isn't the first time I've heard this.

My marketing idol, Gary Vaynerchuk, has even said this to women on his own show (completely innocently) in order to promote the idea of transparent personal branding. Still don't get the problem? Keep reading.

What bothered me most was that this colleague is someone I have known for years. He's followed my career and has read all of my content. And he knew I had consistently shared personal insights with my audience over the past 10 years, not just in the past six months when telling the truth apparently became cool.

Instead, his comments were implying I wear too much makeup, and that this hinders my audience from truly “knowing” who I am. My appearance was apparently masking something, as if I had a deep secret I was keeping from the world. I was suddenly deemed fake, when in actuality, it was just a bunch of stuff I put on my face for fun. It really had nothing to do with anything.

Makeup doesn't define me.

Here is what I awkwardly had to explain to him: It's just my face. It's not my words. It's not my thoughts, my opinions or my feelings. All of that lives on paper and has been shared for over a decade.

What I choose to put on my skin — just like the clothing I choose to put on my body — doesn't define me. But it is up to me, and your opinion plays no role in that.

If you must know, I openly have a passion for cosmetics, I've shed tears of joy at the sight of new product launches and I often wear lipsticks that are far from "natural." Sue me. I've written about all of this, too. There's no shame in my game.

So telling me to take off my makeup in order to show my “true self” isn't promoting transparency. It's shaming women.

Although I appreciate that honest marketing is becoming popular, we need to be careful about where we allow this sentiment to take us. Take it to your companies, your writing, your health and your relationships, but keep it away from my face.

I don't know why more hasn't been written on this, but it's time we call it out.