From the Archives: What’s Lipstick Got to Do With It?

I’m busy this week and doing some traveling, so I probably won’t have as much time as I normally would to blog. As such, I’m pulling some posts out of the archives. I decided to post this today since, as the first day of Eating Disorders Awareness Week, places are yet again sponsoring a “No Makeup Monday” to raise awareness of EDs. It’s something I don’t understand–what does lipstick have to do with eating disorders?

As I’ve mentioned before, I get lots of email from PR people. Mostly, they neither bother me nor really attract much of my attention. One from this morning, however, did.

First, the pitch:

Dear Carrie,

It’s no surprise that most women wear makeup, but what drives the desire to wear bright red lips on a trip to the grocery store or a face full of foundation to the gym, beach or pool? And how does wearing makeup influence a woman’s self image? I thought you might be interested in covering this on your blog.
 
The Renfrew Center Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to advancing the education, prevention, research and treatment of eating disorders, recently conducted a survey which revealed that nearly half of all women have negative feelings about their image when not wearing makeup and equate a “bare face” with feeling unattractive and insecure. Additionally, more than a quarter of the women surveyed began wearing makeup before age 13.
 
We’d love to work with you on a story revealing the results of this survey and are happy to provide nationally renowned body image expert, Adrienne Ressler of The Renfrew Center Foundation, to discuss the findings. 
 
If interested, I’d be happy to send a full press release on The Renfrew Center Foundation’s survey on women’s attitudes towards makeup. The release also provides information regarding The Renfrew Center Foundation’s Barefaced & Beautiful, Without & Within campaign, a national call to action for women to go without makeup on February 27th in conjunction with National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (February 26- March 3).
 
Let me know if this is of interest.

The only thing I can think is: what the HELL does makeup have to do with eating disorders?!?
 
I know that body image obsessions are common in EDs, and I know that makeup can be part of that. But I almost never wear makeup, and I still got an eating disorder. So I’m just wondering how going without makeup is related to Eating Disorders Awareness Week. It’s kinda maybe tangentially related, maybe, if you lump body image distress in with eating disorders.

But really? Makeup doesn’t cause eating disorders.

Here’s the response I got from Renfrew that I posted the next day:

As I mentioned in the Lipstick post, I received an email about a study conducted about women and makeup use by the Renfrew Center Foundation.

I emailed the PR rep, Jennifer, with the following:

I have a question for you, Renfrew, and Dr. Ressler: I’m curious why an eating disorder organization is studying makeup use in women. I don’t see the connection, nor do I see what going without makeup has to do with eating disorders awareness week. I have a blog post here: http://ed-bites.blogspot.com/2012/01/lipstick-connection.html I really am interested in hearing a response from you guys. Thanks so much.

Jennifer’s response:

Thank you for your response, Carrie. Attached please find a copy of the full press release which further explains the survey that we conducted as well as our campaign, Barefaced & Beautiful, Without & Within.

Barefaced & Beautiful, Without & Within is a call to action – an opportunity for women to join together and go without makeup in order to celebrate their natural beauty and start a healthy dialogue about body image, self-confidence and self-esteem.

It is our goal that through this campaign, we will get people talking in broader terms. For many, negative feelings about one’s self-image can set the stage for destructive behaviors, such as addictions or disordered eating. It is our hope that Barefaced & Beautiful – a community of supporters sharing natural photos of themselves – will promote a greater understanding of how beauty and confidence come from within.

Upon your review, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions or if you would like to schedule a time to speak with our expert.

The press release was a Word document, which I’ve copied here:

NEW SURVEY RESULTS INDICATE THERE’S MORE TO MAKEUP
USE THAN MEETS THE EYE
In response to study, The Renfrew Center Foundation launches national campaign, “Barefaced & Beautiful, Without & Within,” during National Eating Disorders Awareness Week
PHILADELPHIA, PA (January 23, 2012) — The Renfrew Center Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to advancing the education, prevention, research and treatment of eating disorders, today announced survey results which revealed that nearly half of all women have negative feelings about their image when not wearing makeup and associate a “bare face” with feeling unattractive and insecure. Additionally, one quarter of the women surveyed began wearing makeup at age 13 or earlier.
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of The Renfrew Center Foundation, from December 20-22, 2011—among 1,292 women 18 years of age and older. Highlights from the survey include:
·Almost Half of Women Have Negative Feelings When They Don’t Wear Makeup
Forty-four percent of women have negative feelings when they are not wearing makeup, reporting feeling unattractive (16%), self-conscious (14%) and naked/as though something is missing (14%). Only three percent of women said going without makeup made them feel more attractive.
·Women Wear Makeup for Both Physical and Psychological Reasons
Almost half (44%) of women wear makeup to hide flaws in their skin. They also cited emotional responses, with 48 percent noting that they wear makeup because they like the way they look with it and 32 percent agreeing that it makes them feel good. Eleven percent said they wear makeup because it is a societal norm.
·Wearing Makeup is Not Just for Adults
Of women who wear makeup, almost half started wearing it between the ages of 14 and 16 (51%), yet more than a quarter of women began using it between the ages of 11 and 13 (27%).
“Wearing makeup to enhance one’s appearance is normal in our society and often a right of passage for young women,” said Adrienne Ressler, National Training Director for the Renfrew Center Foundation and a renowned body image expert. “There is concern, however, when makeup no longer becomes a tool for enhancement but, rather, a security blanket that conceals negative feelings about one’s self-image and self-esteem. For many individuals, these feelings may set the stage for addictions or patterns of disordered eating to develop.”
During National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (February 26 – March 3), The Renfrew Center Foundation is sponsoring a national campaign, titled Barefaced & Beautiful, Without & Within (www.renfrew.org). Through the campaign, Renfrew will encourage women nationwide to go without makeup for a day in order to start a dialogue about healthy body image and inner beauty.
“In this age of toddler beauty pageants, digital retouching, celebrity worship, and other unrealistic cultural messages about beauty, there are definite challenges to developing a positive body image; challenges that put women at risk for eating disorders and other self destructive behaviors,” said Ressler. “Our hope is that through Barefaced & Beautiful, Without & Within, we will promote greater understanding that real beauty and self-esteem truly begins from within.”
To show your support for Barefaced & Beautiful, Without & Within, The Renfrew Center Foundation is asking for women to go without makeup on Monday, February 27th and promote their participation through their social media networks by tweeting a photo or changing their Facebook profile picture to one of their natural self. To learn about participating in Barefaced & Beautiful, Without & Within, please go to www.renfrew.org.
The Renfrew Center Foundation
The Renfrew Center Foundation, founded in 1990, is a non-profit, charitable organization dedicated to advancing the education, prevention, research and treatment of eating disorders. The Renfrew Center Foundation is supported financially by private donations and funding from The Renfrew Center, the nation’s first and largest network of eating disorder treatment facilities. The Renfrew Center now operates eleven facilities in nine states. Through its programs, the Foundation aims to increase awareness of eating disorders as a public health issue and research the pathology and recovery patterns of people with eating disorders. The Foundation also seeks to educate professionals in the assessment, treatment and prevention of behavioral and emotional disorders by sponsoring an annual conference, as well as numerous seminars throughout the country. To date, the Foundation has trained nearly 25,000 professionals. For information about The Renfrew Center Foundation, please call toll-free 1-877-367-3383 or visit www.renfrew.org.
Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive on behalf of The Renfrew Center Foundation from December 20-22, 2011 among 1,292 women ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and, therefore, no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Holly Dean at 215.875.4365.
About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

So, to some extent, Renfrew isn’t trying to deliberately link lipstick and eating disorders. They mentioned disordered eating, not eating disorders, which is very good. But it still rubs me the wrong way for some reason. I guess what I really want to know is why the Renfrew Center is studying makeup use. It just doesn’t compute.

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3 Responses to “From the Archives: What’s Lipstick Got to Do With It?”

  1. Wow, has it been a whole year already since this lipstick discussion? Hopefully, we’ve raised a lot of EDz awareness and supported a good number of people to move toward recovery–with or without lipstick!

  2. In treatment for depression and other mood disorders, doctors and other providers take the wearing of makeup as a sign of improvement. You always know an elderly lady is emerging from the fog when she breaks out her red lipstick!

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