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Support for positive body image for women

20 June 2014

Over a year ago I founded a charity movement called Makeup Free Me (MFM).

MFM is a movement seeking to empower women and girls to develop and nurture positive self-image.

For many women whether they’re in business, entrepreneurs, at home or studying, putting makeup on is a confidence booster - a security blanket, maybe. I wouldn’t leave the house without makeup on for years. It was this dependence that got me thinking: what would it feel like, or mean, if I stepped out of the house and went about my daily life without makeup? I asked myself, could my very own insecurities somehow help me address the negative body image issues many women experience in our society?

Enter Makeup Free Me

MFM encourages women and girls across Australia to go sans makeup for 24 hours.

So, I hear you ask, how will not wearing makeup for one day help tackle negative body image?

I want to make it clear that we are not anti-makeup. In fact, I find it one of the most liberating ways to express myself and certainly don’t believe that going makeup free for one day will change our society instantly in to one with positive self-image. The action of going makeup free is designed to encourage women and girls to take a day out to stop and reflect on where we find our self-worth – is it found in the way we look? Or is it something much deeper?

Upon my own reflections I have come to realise that I was placing too much emphasis on my outward appearance, and was connecting it with my self-worth. This realisaiton alone has taken me on a journey to discover my own value (as opposed to what I look like) and to embrace the fact that we are all unique in the way we look. There is beauty in our differences. I am far from having it all together, but at least I’m on my way.

Going makeup free provides us with a platform to lift the mask on negative self-image and spur on positive conversations that will hopefully continue, and ultimately drive change in our thoughts, attitudes and behaviours.

Female self-image

Negative self-image not only causes considerable distress in its own right but also contributes to the development of low self-esteem, depression, unhealthy weight loss and clinical eating disorders.

Recent statistics have shown that nine out of 10 girls in Australia feel pressured to be thin and that 90 percent of 12-17 year old females are on a diet of some type.

All funds raised from the Makeup Free Me campaign are going directly to the Butterfly Foundation, which supports Australians with eating disorders and negative body image. The funds go towards Butterfly’s preventative education programs including school self-image workshops and support services.

It’s statistics like “only four percent of women think of themselves as beautiful”, that drive us at Makeup Free Me. It’s these stats that get women thinking about their own perceptions of beauty, and the impact this is having on our sisters, our daughters, our friends. I imagine a world where all women and girls consider themselves beautiful… I don’t want to imagine any longer. I want to see it become a reality. It was Gandhi who wisely said, “be the change you wish to see in the world”.

So that’s what we are seeking to do and I’m asking that you join to us and champion positive self-worth and body image in our society. To join the movement sign up to Makeup Free Me and encourage friends, families and colleagues to sponsor your makeup free 24 hours on August 29, 2014.

Merissa Mathew

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