Claire Black: The natural look is cosmetic

Is a face with foundation, powder, eyeshadow and mascara natural? Picture: Getty
Is a face with foundation, powder, eyeshadow and mascara natural? Picture: Getty
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‘SO, YOU don’t wear make-up? Why not?” Claire Black was going to answer.

I did have an answer. Quite a few actually. I never have, barring a brief flirtation with clear mascara a decade ago. My mum doesn’t wear make-up either. I’ve never felt like I needed to. See, I have answers. And, if you want the longer version, make-up doesn’t fit with my version of my own femininity, which means when I’ve tried it I’ve felt a bit like a drag queen. I don’t mind anyone else wearing it, man or woman in fact, I’d just probably rather not.

But all of this was surplus to requirements.

“Och, you just don’t have the time.” My interrogator, who at that moment was painting my face with every known Bobbi Brown product (I was going on the telly), plainly decided that there could only be one answer – lack of time – as to why someone with a complexion that might be described as pasty, a little uneven, with dark circles and, brace yourselves, freckles, would eschew cosmetics. But, even more plainly, I think that she could tell that I could not be trusted to confirm this explanation so she just did it herself. You’ve got to admire the efficiency.

Maybe she thought I was going to start waxing lyrical about Touche Éclat being a plank of patriarchy, or how women’s oppression could be traced in an unerring line of Mac liquid eyeliner. But she needn’t have worried. I’m not that fussed.

I actually quite enjoyed having mine done. It was a bit like in Mission Impossible when Ethan Hunt gets a new latex face. I don’t wear make-up because I don’t like it. I don’t like the smell or the feeling. And I don’t know how to use it.

A friend recently told me about the time when Gordon Brown’s make-up instructions (also for being on the telly) were found in the back of a car and they included the line that foundation “should be applied as though one is painting a wall”. Tremendous. I could probably just about do that.

“I’m not going to look made up, am I?” I asked nervously as yet another coat was applied. “No, no-one will even notice. You’ll just look natural.”

And there you have it. This is what happens. A full face of make-up – foundation, powder, eyeshadow, mascara – is natural. And so it follows, of course, that no make-up is unnatural. And that does make me feel a bit ragey. Wear make-up if you want. But don’t tell me it’s because it looks natural. It made me think of that reality TV show, A Very British Airline, about British Airways that’s on just now. Jodi, who had been training for five and a half weeks was dismissed for having to be told to reapply her lip gloss four times. “It’s not so much about uniform,” said the portly fellow who binned her, looking like he was managing to look ruddy without the help of any blusher incidentally, “it’s looking at the bigger picture of things.” Yes, well, quite.

A step in the right direction

TA-TA Dov Charney. The scandal-mired chief executive of clothing brand American Apparel has finally been dumped by the company’s board of directors in a unanimous vote.

I can now wear my stash of bras – the comfiest on the high street in my humble opinion – with a clear conscience. It was an internal investigation into his alleged misconduct that finally did for Charney (right), what with the multiple lawsuits filed for sexual harassment not having been quite enough to seal his fate.

I don’t know if chucking Charney means anything beyond the fact that, when all’s said and done, having a penchant for buying your employees sex toys and striding around in only your underpants is not acceptable business practice. But I hope that it does.

I hope that the continuing, ever-growing clamour about the conduct of fashion photographer Terry Richardson might be the next step on the road that ensures that no matter how determined you are to deny the rank objectification and exploitation of women, no matter how ironic it all seems, eventually enough will be enough. And when that happens, the heroes will be the women who have been telling their stories for years, trusting that at some point, someone might listen and then do something. Bring it on.

Our caring society

ONE of the things about riding a bike is that you get close to adverts on the back of buses. Stopped at a red light recently, the advert I was staring at was for fostering. Earlier, I’d been stopped beside a taxi adorned with the same message – a beautiful young boy and the words Foster Me Foster Us. Edinburgh City Council’s campaign to attract more carers has been working – in 2012/13 there was a 55 per cent increase in new carers registering. But more are still urgently needed. May I suggest finding Fostering & Me with Lorraine Pascale on iPlayer. The TV chef’s poignant programme about her own experience of being fostered will break your heart. Foster carers are tops. «