The Look Like Crap So You Can Feel Better Than Crap Movement

 Phoebe Baker HydeIs anyone else tired of the whole, “stripped down to embrace your real beauty” movement that has been going on these days? Meet Phoebe Baker Hyde, a woman who gave up fashion and makeup for an entire year to find her natural beauty and a better sense of self…and then wrote a book about it titled, The Beauty Experiment: How I Skipped Lipstick, Ditched Fashion, Faced the World without Concealer, and Learned to Love the Real Me.  

For an entire year, Hyde swore off beauty including makeup, new clothes, salon haircuts, and jewelry.  Let’s just hope she at least moisturized.  Do you know what a year without good moisturizer and SPF can do to the skin?

Appearing on a Boston news show this morning wearing just tinted Chapstick, Phoebe Baker Hyde was patronized by the glamazon hostess  about how gorgeous she looked without makeup.  I will admit, Hyde looked lovely (albeit a bit plain Jane) during the interview, yet, I’m not sure why we’re still beating the “self acceptance through letting it all hang out” movement.  Hyde isn’t the first person to go a year without makeup or fashion and then write a book or blog about it.  In addition, we’ve seen countless movie stars sans-photoshopping, without makeup on with all their figure flaws hanging out in the breeze.  It’s like the new trend to be admired  is to look like you’ve just rolled out of bed and barely put a comb through your hair. Makeup and caring about your appearance is like the new evil, it seems.  Believe me, I don’t love overly photoshopped images, am miffed by what the media world has done to young girls and their self-esteem and even wrote a book about women working with what they have.  But, perhaps that’s my point; we’ve abandoned making the best with what we were given and are now at the point of, “well, let’s just let it all go.”


During the interview, Hyde admitted to being in a place where an experiment seemed like the right challenge to take on; having just moved overseas, becoming a new mom and dealing with self-doubt.   When a dress “failed her”, and didn’t make her feel beautiful, she was upset with herself for feeling so vain and realized she was confusing looking great with self-confidence.  “You can’t buy self-worth” the host said (um, thanks for that one, Captain Obvious) and Hyde continued by saying that the whole experiment was to get her inner-beauty to grow and to take a hard look at the role that beauty and appearance played in her life.  It’s something we should all take a look at in some point in our lives, for sure.   Yet, have we gotten to a point that we have to go to such extremes or that it is viewed as bad to apply some makeup, to strive to be fit or to care about your appearance beyond reasonable maintenance?

Trite as this story is, I do applaud Hyde for doing this.  It’s clear that this is what she felt she needed in her life at the time and I am glad that it proved successful for her.   As a result of this experiment, based on the interview, it sounds like Hyde took control over something that was controlling her.  Additionally, during the interview she didn’t preach that this is the way we should all find our way towards greater self-acceptance.  This was just her way.  How can anyone fault her for that?  It’s not Hyde’s journey itself that irks me, it’s this whole overwrought topic that does.

While Hyde clearly needed extremes to wake up her inner-self, do we all need to  live in such extremes?  Feel lost in your overly made up facade?  Give up beauty products, let your loose arm skin flap like a flying squirrel and show off that back fat (Yes, I’m talking to you Tyra Banks).  Just like we’ve started to ridicule the thin girls as evil while embracing a curvier figure as healthy and beautiful, we’re doing the same with beauty.  It’s always so black and white.  In our society, to embrace something as good, something always needs to be cast out as bad.    So now what?  Makeup bad, natural good?  I just wonder if we’ve gone too far and if learning to live in the balance of the two is a better place to reside.

Watch Phoebe Baker Hyde’s interview below.

  • Li

    Hi Bridgette,

    I wanted to take a moment to offer my feedback on your post. Firstly, I want to say that I liked your writing and think you were trying to be objective overall but I also think reading the book would have been fairer in terms of perspective. (And for the record, she did use moisturizer and sunscreen. :)). As you stated, she was not trying to preach or impose this way upon anyone else as this was her personal journey. I certainly never felt any degree of superiority in her book. Quite the opposite; it was her honesty in sharing her struggles that felt more bare than her face without makeup. What I found interesting was how you mentioned being irked by this overwrought topic and how you stated that she clearly needed extremes to wake up her inner self, You also questioned earlier in your post whether we have reached a point of having “to go to such extremes or that it is viewed as bad to apply some makeup, to strive to be fit or to care about your appearance beyond reasonable maintenance.” By whom? As this post is based on her experience – and her – I will assume that to you, her experiment – and those who similarly went without makeup – are somehow implying through their decisions and actions that these things are bad. In her book, she actually does recognize that clothes, for example, have a function, as languages do, to express certain things. I think the fact alone that simplifying to the bare necessities and not applying makeup would be seen as extreme shows the degree of influence beauty and fashion actually have on society. The title of your post felt a bit shallow to me as I don’t think anyone sets out to “look like crap.” As you mentioned, we can all stand to take a look at the role beauty and appearance play in our lives. Not only this, but I think we should take a look at the role WE play in these matters. There is absolutely nothing wrong with applying makeup, or taking care of oneself. Nor is there anything extreme in not applying makeup. Why does this have to be associated with a complete lack of caring for oneself? One way doesn’t have to be right/good, and the other wrong/bad. I think it is only as black and white as we see it. Why can’t value be recognized in both and more importantly, in ourselves? (And I think the opinions of thin or curvy girls are directly linked to beauty. But who gets to decide what is beautiful anyway? And how often do we accept this standard, perhaps not even knowingly?)

    It really is part of our reality more than I think we realize sometimes.

    Some videos, such as the one below, show the difference between an attractive, well-groomed person and the treatment they receive vs. the same person who is hygienic but presents as plain. It is quite sad actually. As Dr. Heldman stated: “We do tend to see conventionally attractive people as happier, warmer, funnier. In fact, a few studies have shown that they even get lower prison sentences or don’t get convicted at all.”

    (you may have already seen this)

    Makeup can be used as an art or to stand out, but I think many of us use it (and other means, such as clothes) NOT to stand out, but rather, to fit in or cover up. Not to feel discomfort, or a lack of confidence, or judgment from others. To look healthier, more put together. To feel good about ourselves.

    Some use these things creatively, or to enhance an appearance they already feel comfortable with. These people would feel perfectly at ease without makeup which is great. Many unfortunately lack a certain confidence with or without these boosters, as the author did. This is when a closer look can be especially important. I think you were spot on when you spoke about how she was taking control over something that was controlling her. In the end, we all have our struggles and challenges and taking a clear look at ourselves without anything masking it shouldn’t be viewed as extreme or an implication that those who do cover up, whether for pleasure or added self-esteem, are bad.