I travel make-up free on long haul flights and am confronted with the 'real me' in the mirror of the creepily lit plane toilet. Beauty is not necessarily in the eye of the beholder, as Harry might have noticed when he thoughtfully popped round yesterday to bring me a a carton of milk and some Jaffa cakes as I caught up with my post Canada sleep. Here's a woman from the Times
The morning passes uneventfully and most of the women I see on the bus, or on Oxford Street, don't seem to be wearing make-up either. When I catch sight of myself in the mirrored lift at the BBC I realise that I look a bit rough - luckily I am doing only radio - but apart from that, I don't really think about it again. It is only when Gill the photographer from The Times turns up and shoves her giant lens practically up my nose that I begin to feel stressed and self-conscious. The closer she comes to me, the closer I come to punching her lights out.
Later, I telephone the clinical psychologist Dr Cecilia d'Felice. She is very sympathetic. “Women wear make-up because it makes them look and feel more attractive and there is something very masochistic about forcibly stripping that away and not allowing yourself some protection. It's human nature.”
I totally agree. I've left my make-up bag at home in the interests of the experiment, but a quick trip to Boots and five minutes in front of a mirror puts a smile on my face again.I lasted all of three hours without my “face” on, and it cost me fifty quid to feel normal again. Rather than liberated, I felt robbed of the right to make the most of myself and I suddenly understood why the Miss Naked Beauty contestants felt so vulnerable. To be honest, I feel disappointed in myself. Why can't I love my unadorned face? To compound my sense of failure, when I speak to psychologist Oliver James, he tells me that the credit crunch will make me think twice about the amount I spend on unnecessary cosmetics. He believes that the recession will challenge women such as me to distinguish between real “need” and the artificial “want”.