The four girls gathered around a table in the principal’s office at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School Thursday morning were beautiful.
Their bright eyes revealed strong spirits, their smiles were generous and the words that came from their mouths were meaningful and said with confidence.
Their beauty filled the room with no assistance from products teens often equate with attractiveness. Not one eyelash was enhanced by mascara, no cheeks were artificially tinted by blush and no lip gloss sparkled in the sun.
These girls have all been known to wear makeup, some of them more often than others, but Thursday they pushed vanity aside to participate in the Day of Natural Beauty sponsored by the school’s GPX Club.
“We basically want girls to know that beauty comes from the inside, not the outside, and they shouldn’t be afraid to show who they naturally are,” explained Colleen Heiner, one of the club’s advisers. “We definitely want them to kind of hold themselves in higher regard and know they don’t have to hide behind makeup to be naturally beautiful.”
More than 60 girls participated in the makeup-free school day, and some teachers joined in, too.
The show of enthusiasm was heartening and broadcast an important message throughout the school, said organizers.
“Makeup and physical appearance have become very influential in high school and even middle school,” said senior Rebecca Catelli, who masterminded the event. “Girls as early as 12 years old start wearing makeup, so it’s very important to show that being happy and proud of yourself is the most important thing.”
Society imposes a lot of pressure on teenage girls to present a certain type of appearance, said club member Jessica Dillon, a junior who was among those gathered in the principal’s office Thursday.
“The social networking and all the pictures and Instagram and all that just kind of leads to girls thinking that they need to look a certain way, and we don’t need to,” she said.
There is one other school day when many girls walk the halls with no makeup: the day of the prom. The boys call it Zombie Day, said senior Ashley Agan. She and the other girls gathered around the table Thursday shrugged off the insult, saying that when there are many makeup-free girls at school, it’s easy to feel OK about it.
“I think there are so many of us, if the boys said something, we would all just kind of jump on them,” said junior Molly Gallagher with a laugh. “It’s kind of nice to know that everyone’s backing each other up with it.”
Girls who went makeup-free for the Day of Natural Beauty had the opportunity to enter their name into a drawing for a bracelet with an apple blossom charm, intended to serve as a reminder of their natural beauty.
Now that the event is over, makeup will once again grace some of the faces seen unadorned Thursday, but maybe it won’t be applied as often, or with such a heavy hand, GPX Club members speculated.
“I think now I won’t even wear as much as I used to, just because it really does make you realize it doesn’t matter,” Jessica said.
Rebecca, who rarely wears makeup, suggested that those who feel naked without it could experiment with using just a touch of blush or a dab of lipstick.
“Just, like, lighten it. You don’t need to put on as much as you think you do,” Jessica advised.
Club members have decided to make the Day of Natural Beauty an annual event and said they hope even more girls will participate next year.
“I don’t think they should feel like they have to come to school to impress anyone and I think this day kind of sent that message,” Molly said.