Two famous women have shown us their 'real' faces. We quickly savaged only one.

Out of all the scandals we are presented with on a daily basis, nothing will get the world talking quite like a woman's face.

From its changed appearance, whether through the passage of time or the help of a medical professional, to skin texture and makeup (or lack of), these days even Shakespeare himself would struggle to come up with enough adjectives to keep up with the in-depth analysis a woman's face can inspire.

But as we have learned from recent events, not every face conversation is created equal.

Watch: JLo talks about her skin at 54. Post continues below.

Video via Instagram/@jlo

Last month, Pamela Anderson garnered more Fashion Week headlines with a face devoid of makeup than the day Kylie Jenner wore a faux lion's head draped nonchalantly across her shoulders when she attended Paris Fashion Week.

When asked to explain the presumably intense and far-reaching story behind her bare-faced look, the Baywatch actress, activist and author said, "I’m makeup-free at home, so why not for Paris Fashion Week? I really didn’t know anyone would notice it, but I’m glad it became a positive message."

Expanding further on the topic, the 56-year-old had previously said that she stopped wearing cosmetics after her longtime makeup artist passed away in 2019, and had decided to embrace her changing face.


"I call it life-ing, not aging," she said at the time. "Chasing youth is futile. All we can do is embrace who we are at the moment we are in, and be okay with where our feet stand right now."

At the time, Pamela's makeup-free face spurned enough think pieces and comments to fill an empty swimming pool, and while the public argued over whether a bare face should be seen as a revolutionary celebration or a frightening spotlight on female beauty standards (spoiler alert – both are true), there was one point upon which everyone was in perfect agreement.

That Pamela Anderson's choice made her a woman worth celebrating, and we loved her all the more for it.

Pamela Anderson makeup-free at Paris Fashion Week. Image: Getty


However, when it comes to another famous woman who tread a similar path, who is also a household name and who has reinvented her career many times over the decades, the public reaction was wildly different.

In a new interview that was published this week via PEOPLE, Jennifer Lopez referenced a viral video she shared in August of this year, in which the musician was makeup-free and sharing her skincare routine, all while celebrating her recent 54th birthday.

"There’s no filters and no retouching on this video," she said into the camera. "Look at that! Bye, I love you”

"No filter. ALL. ME. #ThisIsMeNow at 54, glowing and happy @JLoBeauty," she captioned the clip, which was tagged "This is...54"

"When I go makeup-free in my videos, it is really about letting people know that it's okay," Lopez told the publication when asked about the video. 

"I love being fully made up and looking glamorous and being kind of the JLo that everybody knows in movies and videos and all that kind of stuff. But there's also just you with no makeup on and without all of the embellishments that is just as beautiful."

But while the sentiment behind showing her makeup-free face appeared to be in the same vein as Pamela's, the reaction to Jennifer could not have been more different.

Instead of being hailed as 'revolutionary', 'brave' or a warrior against impossible beauty standards, Jennifer was left fielding a mountain of comments claiming she wasn't truly makeup-free, had lied about her use of filters and cosmetic procedures (or both) and was basically accused of setting the women's rights movement back by at least a decade thanks to one brief but aesthetically pleasing Instagram post.


Two women being pitted against each other in the public eye is not a surprising occurrence (if I had a dollar for every time it occurred I'd have enough to buy the $15,000 gold vibrator Gwyneth Paltrow is currently spruiking on Goop). But in this particular case, the reasons behind the divide are worth being examined.

There is, of course, the most obvious, surface-level style of explanation. Being that Pamela Anderson is showing visible signs of being visibly older than we have seen her in the past, and perhaps more in line with the notion of what we believe a 50-year-old 'should' look like (although we also know there is really no such thing).

While Jennifer Lopez at 54 years old looks very much outside the realm of what we have been led to believe a woman in this age bracket will look like, and her face still bares an incredible resemblance to the way she looked on screen more than a decade ago.

Yet the criticism of Jennifer and the praise of Pamela appeared to go deeper than just the idea of what a 50-year-old woman 'should' look like.

An unspoken layer of the conversation also comes down to the apparent 'bravery' of the two women.

With the idea that Pamela put more on the line by stepping out at such a prestigious public event without a layer of makeup armour to protect her. Subject to a sea of cameras, angles and lights, all capable of capturing anybody's worst side – and once she approached that media wall, there was no turning back.


Jennifer, on the other hand, posted from the relative safety of her bathroom, in complete control of the lighting, the angles and pretty much everything else about the way she chose to present her face on video at that moment.

But along with questions about the bravery and truth of these two women's makeup-free stories, the real root of the divide between the public reaction also comes down to money.

Jennifer Lopez in one of her makeup-free videos. Image: Instagram 


While Pamela Anderson has been a spokesperson and model for skincare and beauty brands over the years, she does not own her own product line. Whereas Jennifer Lopez repeatedly credited JLo Beauty for her youthful appearance throughout her makeup-free video, stating that the use of her products was the reason she hasn't undergone any cosmetic procedures.

It's hard for the public to join in a battle cry around the demolition of beauty standards when they feel like it comes with a direct debit from their account.

The truth is that pitting these two makeup-free moments against each other only really served the outlets who ran with the Jennifer Lopez 'backlash' story in the first place. While the question of how much these two stories really revolutionised aging and beauty to the public is a more complex one.

All because, as much as we'd all like to believe that seeing these types of celebrity moments will change the way we see our own faces as we age, seeing the makeup-free photos of two conventionally attractive women only normalises one type of beauty. 

Yet both Jennifer and Pamela's stories do serve to make us examine the intricate role makeup and women's faces play in all of our lives. There is still no way to step outside your home as a woman without your face serving as some kind of statement.

Doing nothing with it and doing everything can both be seen as radical choices.

Laura Brodnik is Mamamia's Head of Entertainment and host of The Spill podcast. You can follow her on Instagram here.

Feature Image: Getty; Canva.

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