The Naked Face Project

Just today I read about the Naked Face Project; two women in Charlotte, NC, Molly Barker and Caitlin Boyle, decided to try, for just 60 days, to go without makeup, jewelry, shaving, uncomfortable clothing (like tight skirts and high heels), painted nails, beauty lotions, and anything more than basic hair styling.

I felt like cheering, because I decided to do that back in 2003. I don’t own any makeup or beauty creams, no uncomfortable clothing, no high heels. I had been going back and forth on it, but it was around that time I decided definitely to quit, telling myself, “I’m a writer, and I can get away with it. People will just think, ‘Oh, she’s an artist, they’re weird.’”

About that time I decided the most comfortable clothing for me was knit-fabric dresses and skirts, with stretchy places, so that’s all I wear. I might look more “dressy” than someone in slacks—but I bet I’m more comfortable.

My one exception would be that I do wear earrings, sometimes, because I think it would be unpleasant to look at the empty holes in my ears. My aim in getting dressed in the morning is to be pleasant and appealing to look at, like a flower. I look for attractive colors, and try to combine them well. Other people are going to have to look at me, so I want to be at least a restful sight.

There’s a difference between being beautiful. Not many people can be beautiful, and even then, not for long. But anyone can be attractive—attract, like a magnet does, because people can tell you are kind and inviting.

The unusual thing about this for me is that I do so much public speaking and even some TV appearances, yet I haven’t reverted to makeup. I’d like to think “If I can do this, any woman can,” but I know some women are in work situations where they have to dress the part. I’m glad that this is an option for me.

Here’s a photo I took today at my desk. 408918-17366356-thumbnail

I’m no glamour girl, but I look like a nice grandma, don’t I? That’s all I want, at this point. I just want to be myself.

That reminds me of something my daughter Megan said when she was about 5. She said “My friend Patty always wants to be someone else. Whoever she sees, that’s who she wants to be. But I just want to be me. And I am me! I don’t want to be anyone else.” [Pause] “I just want their clothes.”

Here’s me on PBS a few months ago, filmed in my dining room, with no makeup. (I think we might have dusted on some powder to get rid of nose shine.) I counted recently and I’ve been interviewed in the media about 680 times, now, and given 500 speeches. And I don’t need makeup to do it.

About Frederica Matthewes-Green

Frederica Mathewes-Green is a wide-ranging author who has published 10 books and 800 essays, in such diverse publications as the Washington Post, Christianity Today, Smithsonian, and the Wall Street Journal. She has been a regular commentator for National Public Radio (NPR), a columnist for the Religion News Service,, and Christianity Today, and a podcaster for Ancient Faith Radio. (She was also a consultant for Veggie Tales.) She has published 10 books, and has appeared as a speaker over 600 times, at places like Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Wellesley, Cornell, Calvin, Baylor, and Westmont, and received a Doctor of Letters (honorary) from King University. She has been interviewed over 700 times, on venues like PrimeTime Live, the 700 Club, NPR, PBS, Time, Newsweek, and the New York Times. She lives with her husband, the Rev. Gregory Mathewes-Green, in Johnson City, TN. Their three children are grown and married, and they have fourteen grandchildren.