Bareface & Beautiful highlights inner beauty

February 25, 2013 3:07:20 PM PST
The Renfrew Center asks women to go without makeup for a day, and post a picture, to highlight the relationship to eating disorders

Women's makeup goes back to ancient times, but it's taken till the 21st century to begin to understand how & why it is used, particularly among girls and young women.

In recent years, experts at the Renfrew Center have linked feelings about makeup to a female's overall body image, unspoken emotions, and tendencies toward eating disorders.

This year for Eating Disorder Awareness week, the Renfrew Center Foundation sponsored its second annual online survey, this time focusing on attitudes about makeup among young girls.

And it is inviting women to go without makeup for a day, and post their picture online.

During December 2012, nearly 600 girls between 8 & 18 years of age answered the survey.

It found that girls are starting to wear makeup at a younger age. Of those who do wear makeup, two-thirds started between 8 and 13 years of age.

20% felt self-conscious without it, and 17% said they feel naked and unattractive.

And over a quarter of those answering the survey rarely or never leave the house without makeup on - even to a friend's house.

Laurel Greberman, the clinical supervisor of the Renfrew Center at Radnor says, "The concern comes when outer appearance is used to conceal or mask...rather than accept and enhance who we are.

"Problems that need our attention may be avoided," she adds. "And establishing a pattern of ignoring inner feelings and sensations often leads to overwhelming stress and tension, which, for the most vulnerable, can lead to an eating disorder."

Greberman says parents should be on the lookout for some important behavioral red flags:

* an increase in self-deprecating talk; i.e., "I'm so fat."

* an over-reliance on others' opinions

* a refusal to attend events without perfect makeup or wardrobe, isolation

* an overall sense of sadness or anger

Parents shouldn't worry in silence, nor be confrontational about changes in their daughters' behavior. Instead, says Greberman, there should be open communication. Noting a child's behavior, and asking for help understanding it could help a child or adolescent open up more.