A women's center in L.A. has made the news for their attempts to make homeless women a little easier on the eyes. I'll just say it right now: I hate makeovers.
I hate the whole idea of makeovers. I hate it when movies feature a makeover montage, with the heroine emerging victorious at the end with better hair and smaller clothes. I hate the idea that good makeover has the almost god-like power to transform a woman, inside and out. I hate department store makeup counters and their over-zealous staff. I hate the pressure to be constantly changing my looks, emerging a butterfly again and again from my hideous cocoon, while the men in my life get to schlep about in the same pair of sweatpants and sneakers they always wear. Though I sometimes love makeup, I hate being made over, as though what was there before is just no longer gonna cut it.
Okay, so I sound pretty bitter. But I feel like I should admit my deeply-rooted hatred before going on to say this: the Glamour Project is really, really heartwarming. Upon reading the headline, my first thought was to question whether homeless women really need makeovers. Surely there is something more significant - and less shallow - that they could be doing for these women. Yet the Glamour Project, as silly as it initially may seem, provides something far more important than makeup: personal attention.
The Glamour Project website describes their dedication to bringing out "hidden beauty" and "improving the lives of disadvantaged women through kindness, compassion and photography!" (exclamation mark theirs). While there is a part of me that remains critical of such an enterprise, the end product makes up for everything I don't like about the concept. They aren't actually giving them a new look, they're reminding these women that they matter, that they are still visible. Though being physically visible may sometimes feel oppressive, it is also absolutely necessary (and being invisible is infinitely worse). Makeup artist Evvy Shapero and photographer Kara Fox visit women's shelters throughout Southern California to offer their expertise, including the Downtown Women's Center near Skid Row. The executive director of the Downtown Women's Center explains that the makeovers aren't really about looking better; "Providing the service really shows that people do care about them, and I think that recognition lasts a long time," said Lisa Watson. "It's not just for the moment."
Lisa Curtis, a 55-year-old woman living at the center, explains it even better: "It makes me feel really good and I'm — for 55 years old — this looks good. Confident." And who am I to criticize that?
Image via The Glamour Project