When someone calls you ugly...
Is there any comment quite as hurtful as the one that is accidentally overheard?
At least if someone says something nasty to your face you can console yourself with the thought that perhaps they were just trying to hurt your feelings.
However, if someone makes a comment intending for it not to reach your ears, there is no way to persuade yourself that it is anything other than their own unvarnished perception of you.
Leandra Medine, creator of the popular fashion blog Man Repeller, was recently on the receiving end of some rather poisonous print.
Medine got an email from the founder of a website introducing her to his assistant - but he neglected to delete an earlier conversation about her.
After describing Medine as smart and funny to the assistant he then dropped a bitter bombshell saying, "She is ugly as f--k tho. Truly a man repeller." Ouch times a thousand.
Apart from the not very smart move of accidentally sending it on to the person he was writing about, the founder of the website was blatantly unprofessional in sharing his not at all relevant thoughts about Medine's appearance with his colleague in the first place.
Medine was understandably a touch 'emotional' at this blundering piece of nastiness, but it got her thinking about being a woman who doesn't wear make-up in a world that is so ready to pass judgement on feminine appearances.
She'd previously noticed a spate of unpleasant comments on her Instagram about her reluctance to use cosmetics. "The comments sometimes appear as compound questions like, 'you could be cute but why don't you wear make-up?' Other times they're just plain insulting. As recently as last week, I've been called an ugly whore." Rather harsh words for what basically amounts to deciding to skip the concealer.
It is slightly bizarre, if sadly unsurprising, that skipping make-up is such a cause for critique.
Breaking news alert for all the sans maquillage haters: most women don't wear make-up all the time. Why bother putting it to melt off at the gym or to go grab an urgent ice-cream sandwich from the local grocery store?
When women are born we don't sign some sworn oath with our tiny baby hands to always look as pretty as possible at all times or risk having our lady licence revoked.
Make-up is sometimes fun and sometimes a hassle, of course most of us cherry-pick whether to wear it. It's not really grounds to pass judgement on whether or not someone is 'ugly' or 'lazy' for deciding to opt out (or conversely if they are 'vain' or 'dishonest' for deciding to wear it).
I have plenty of smart, talented, beautiful friends who never wear any make-up and when I've spoken to them about the matter they say they've felt it hasn't held them back in achieving their career goals, putting to bed that rather tired argument that it is 'unprofessional' for women to not wear make-up.
The more often women can wear as much or as little make-up as they please without it being a cause for criticism or faux concern, the better.
Hopefully one day we'll reach the happy medium where people realise perhaps they should pay more attention to a woman's work than exactly what milligram amount of eyeliner she is or isn't sporting.
These sorts of judgements just back us into a corner where it's suddenly considered a 'brave' act of defiance to forgo foundation, instead of a simple choice of desire or convenience.
Medine's decision to regularly eschew cosmetics is completely in line with her aesthetic - that one should wear what delights oneself, not others. And while Medine might often wear uncomfortable looking shoes she is very clearly at ease in her own skin, and that is inarguably attractive (no matter what some idiot who doesn't know how to press delete might think).
As she so eloquently puts it in her reasoning on why she will continue to not wear make-up despite the blowback, "I am comfortable with how I look. I don't hate what I see when I look in the mirror. Even if legions of others don't agree. I have accepted the reflection that reliably bounces back at me for its perks and its flaws."
Her final words? "My eyes will never be blue, my bone structure will never allow for you to mistake me for a Scandinavian model. I am who I am and even if that infers 'ugly as f--k', I think it's, I don't know, beautiful."
- Daily Life