Fighting Eating Disorders With No Makeup

By Sarah Beller 02/25/13

For Eating Disorder Awareness week, the "Barefaced and Beautiful" campaign promotes self-acceptance.

A #BareFacedBeauty pic. Photo via

In honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness week (Feb. 24-March 2, 2013), The Renfrew Center Foundation, the nation’s first residential eating disorder facility, is sponsoring its second annual "Barefaced and Beautiful" campaign. They're encouraging women to go without makeup (or with less makeup than usual) and to post pictures of their "bare" faces online, via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, with the hashtag #barefacedbeauty. Susan Kleinman, a dance/movement therapist at the Renfrew Center of Florida, says the campaign intends to boost awareness about body image and encourage women and girls to accept themselves, au natural. "When treating eating disorders we look at a lack of self-acceptance," Kleinman tells The Fix. "These girls and woman are trying to feel good about themselves, sometimes by putting on an outer appearance that does not match how they feel inside; they neglect their inner needs and feelings. We see a lot of people who just don't feel good enough inside, just the way they are." She says many people will turn to eating disorders to cope with low self esteem, and to feel like they are in control of something. "But its really only an illusion," she tells us. "Self-acceptance is the real key to recovery." She explains that makeup isn't a problem in itself (she "loves makeup"), but it can become a problem when it is used to conceal the "authentic self" from a world that often judges women based on their looks.

The rate of development of new cases of eating disorders has been continuously growing since 1950, according to research from the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). By age six, 40-60% of elementary school girls (ages 6-12) are concerned about their weight or about becoming "too fat," NEDA reports. And approximately 20 million women and 10 million men in the US suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their life, including anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, or an eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS). The theme of this year's eating disorder awareness week is “Everybody Knows Somebody."

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Sarah Beller is a writer and the Executive Director at Filter. She has written about drug policy with a focus on harm reduction for Substance.comThe Fix and Salon. She has worked as a social worker with formerly incarcerated people in New York for a number of years. Her writing has also appeared in McSweeney’sThe HairpinThe ToastReductressThe Rumpus and other publications. You can find Sarah on Linkedin and Twitter.