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Women go 'nude' for 24-hour body image boost

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Women in Canberra will be looking particularly “fresh faced” on Friday in a quest to promote positive body image.

Rather than posting “selfies” online of themselves sans make-up, Ashleigh Miller of Chisholm, Kylie Travers of Garran and a large number of Canberran women decided to down their face painting tools, brushes and sponges to show their support for Makeup Free Me Day.

Ms Miller, 19, said she decided to take part after seeing a post on Facebook but is nervous about facing the world with her "puffy morning eyes" without her usual foundation and concealer.

"I know so many girls who wear ‘cake faces’ so I wanted to take part to set an example. While the ‘cake faces’ aren’t taking part they have sponsored me so that’s ok," she said.

The inaugural day, likened to a Movember type charity event for ladies, is the brainchild of Makeup Free Me founder Merissa Mathews. The challenge is for women to face the world without make-up for 24-hours, while being sponsored by family and friends to do so.

Ms Mathews, a former communications specialist for a “well known brand”, quit her job in 2012 to establish the charity movement which, she says, “seeks to empower Aussie women to develop and nurture positive body image.”


The aim of the organisation’s Makeup Free Me Day is to raise funds and awareness for body image advocacy group the Butterfly Foundation.

“The action of going make-up free is simple. It’s not about starting an anti make-up movement but rather it’s about using it as a platform to encourage women and girls to start a positive conversation around where we find our self-worth and the multimillion dollar question is, 'Is it in our physical beauty?',”  Ms Mathew said.

“We hope this conversation will continue and ultimately drive change in our thoughts, attitudes and behaviours.”

Make-up free faces have become hotly debated topic in Australia recently.

Earlier this month, Sunrise hosts Samantha Armytage and Natalie Barr presented an hour of the number one rating breakfast show “nude”, their actions sparked a flurry of conversation around women’s attitude to cosmetic and natural beauty.

Since then a number of hashtags and social media movements have been established, much to the chagrin of several commentators and feminist groups who have critiqued and criticised the “selfies” aspect of campaigns such as Mamamia’s “Body Positive Project”.  

While researching and establishing Makeup Free Me, Ms Mathews was encouraged to look beneath the surface of women’s relationship with face paints and powders.

“We undertook a brief survey [after founding Makeup Free Me] and two key findings were that many women feel more confident when they are wearing make-up and that being beautiful is about being confident,” she said.

“If we link these two findings together, could this mean that many of us women feel that being beautiful is about being confident and to help us achieve that confidence we need make-up? Surprising? Maybe. Interesting? Definitely.”

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