"Today I hid outside the office, too embarrassed to go to work. All because of my face."

Today began like any other day.

My alarm sounded at 7:30am and – as is the case every morning – I was severely traumatised.

“I wake up every weekday morning at the same time…” I thought to myself. “How is it still such a shock?”

Filled with resentment and also disdain, I rolled out of bed and into the shower. I can’t even remember the next 15 minutes because it was too early and I still feel sick about it.

Anywho, as I wrapped myself in a towel I caught a glimpse of my face in the mirror, and had my first coherent thought of the day.

“Jesus,” I muttered.

I looked tired. Having gone off my pill recently, my skin has gone a little haywire. My eyebrows looked particularly transparent, and I had no…facial features.  I looked like this meme:

Particularly the brows.

There's nothing wrong with looking like that, it's just... it wasn't the look I was going for today. 

So I went to grab my make up in a bid to fix my face (I realise how absurdly problematic that sentence is - more on that later).


It wasn't there. My make up was gone.

I spoke about the ordeal on Mamamia Out Loud this week, with Monique Bowley and Mia Freedman. Post continues below. 

ARRRGGHHHH. Image via Giphy.

Firstly, it was too early for this sh*t. Secondly, my whole day was ruined and it wasn't even 8am. Thirdly, this takes First World Problems to a whole new level and I hate myself.

But my visceral response to this situation was very real. I panicked. I tried to problem solve. I considered not going to work and for a moment actually thought my missing make up was a valid excuse.


My feminist forebears FOUGHT for the right for women to work and here I was, in 2016, curled up in a corner refusing to go because I didn't have f*cking eyeliner.

I am so sorry, Germaine Greer. So sorry.

My twin sister then emerged and told me nonchalantly that she'd borrowed my make up bag at work yesterday afternoon, and left it on her desk. The anger I felt in that moment is actually inexpressible. I...can't.

So I came up with a PLAN. I'd go to work, and Clare would go upstairs, grab the make up, and deliver it to me downstairs, where I would apply it in the bathroom of the cafe across the road.


There was no world in which I was walking into my office bare faced. I could not do it.

I executed my plan flawlessly, with the exception of a slightly weird look from the barista after I'd used his bathroom for 20 minutes.

I was also 15 minutes late to work, but that seemed a small price to pay for the anguish I'd experienced that morning.

It was then that I came across an article by Stella Bugbee for The Cut titled "Hillary's No-MakeUp Face As Rorschach Test".

A Rorschach test is used in psychology, when subjects are presented with inkblots (obscure shaped drawings/paintings) and asked what they see. The response, of course, says far more about the individual and their thinking process, than it does about the image itself.

Such is the case with Hillary Clinton's face.

Since Clinton was tragically defeated by Donald Trump in the US presidential election, she's taken to fronting the public without a skerrick of make up on.

And why? Well, Bugbee supposes it might be a "cathartic f*ck-you to the whole damn operation of being a woman in the public eye". Or an exhibition of grief. Or a choice made out of genuine concern that she might cry in public, and ruin any make up she was wearing.

Hillary Clinton at Children's Defense Fund Event. Image via Getty.

We cannot know for sure why Clinton has made the choice, but there is perhaps no greater example of the feminist mantra 'the personal is political'. We interpret the colour of one's eyelashes as a statement. An act of defiance. An indication of one's mental health. Even a display of grief.

Some women, like Mia Freedman, say that for them makeup is about self expression. It's fun. It's creative. But, if I'm honest, that's never been what it's been about for me.

I wear the same make up every week day. There is nothing expressive about it. I feel safe. It is my armour. I do not feel like I'm 'enough' without it.

But I'm a walking contradiction. Because I don't judge other women on the evenness of their skin tone or the curl of their lashes. I reserve that shallow hyper-criticism for myself only.

And when I do finish my make up every morning, I don't leave the house feeling 'beautiful'. I feel adequate. Just.

"I feel adequate. Just." Image supplied.

If I'm honest, I envy Hillary. I envy how powerful she must feel, and how liberating it must be to know that you can stand on the world stage without make up on and the universe won't spontaneously combust.

My fear of walking into an office (with many women who do not wear make up, mind you) without a mask on, sounds absurd. On the surface, it seems completely irrational.

But it is not completely unusual or unjustified. Ever since I was a teenager I've understood very clearly that my value is contingent upon my appearance. Just about everything in my world tells me that, from Instagram, to advertising, to the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show which is just around the corner. Interestingly, work is one of the only places that doesn't.

I think many women feel a disconnect between what they believe and what they do. We resent the discourses that underpin so many of our mundane daily routines. We can feel like hypocrites.

But one of the most public women in the world has had enough.

And I for one, am excited.

You can listen to the full episode of Mamamia Out Loud, here.

For more information on all the books and shows mentioned on the Mamamia Podcast Network, please visit

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