At first I thought it was just a gimmick.
The female hosts of the CBS gabfest, “The Talk,” appeared without makeup on their season three opener Monday.
So did the studio audience and all of the guests, including actress and author Jamie Lee Curtis, who made news 10 years ago when she posed for “More” magazine without benefit of makeup or airbrushing.
The five hosts made a dramatic entrance, wrapped in plush white towels or terry robes. No makeup, no wigs, no hair weaves. All au naturale.
Most of the tweets about the show praised the women’s looks and their courage. But those were women tweeting; one male blogger had a radically different – and extremely unkind – opinion.
Julie Chen said she’s been called “the Chinese Dolly Parton” for her love of big hair and fake eyelashes. Without the glamming up, she looked about 14 years old.
Although the hosts agreed with Aisha Tyler when she said, “It is freeing and relaxing,” they were obviously nervous about their appearance. Ironically, Sara Gilbert, who wears the least amount of makeup, admitted to being the most self-conscious.
“It’s a perfect day to talk about bravery,” Curtis said, by way of introducing her newest children’s book, “My Brave Year of Firsts: Tries, Sighs and High Fives.”
As a way to promote the book, she decided to confront one of her own fears: running. “I’d never run a mile in my life,” she said. So she signed up to do a 5k and succeeded in finishing it.
“It was incredible to feel like I’d tackled something new.”
“When you face those fears, it transforms you,” Gilbert pointed out.
Curtis raved about what a “revolutionary” move the show was making. “The impact this will have, you have no idea,” she said.
It’s not that she’s against makeup, but she did ask a crucial question: Are you trying to hide something or accentuate something with cosmetics?
The three actresses from daytime soap operas seemed more relaxed about showing up without their usual makeup. “It’s no big deal,” said Melody Thomas Scott from “The Young and the Restless.” “I’ve gone on my show looking like holy hell and really, that’s not what’s important, girls.”
Katherine Kelly Lang confessed to going natural when she’s not on the set of “The Bold & The Beautiful.” “When I go to work…I put on a ton of makeup and I feel like my character.”
Michelle Stafford, also with “The Young and the Restless,” said, “This is what I usually look like when I go to the Home Depot.” And, she admits, people don’t always recognize her.
Instead of continuing the conversation on empowerment or how makeup affects self-image, the talk shifted to doing love scenes “bare.”
No one addressed the potential dangers or the cost of the $7 billion (at least) beauty industry, discussed in YWCA’s report “Beauty at any Cost.” Phthalates, still found in some U.S. products, have come under fire as causing cancer.
As for the expense, looking good isn’t cheap. The average amount spent in five years on cosmetics and beauty products would pay for one year of in-state tuition and fees at a public university, according to the YWCA report.
I don’t know what inspired today’s “extreme make-under” episode. Perhaps Hillary Clinton appearing sans makeup (except for lipstick), complete with glasses, last spring. She won raves for her natural look, which was probably the result of days on the road doing high-powered diplomatic work.
It strikes me as a sad statement that going without makeup makes headlines or provides the theme for a "revolutionary" episode of television. We females certainly seem dependent on our powder and paint.
What I really wonder is this: How much makeup will the ladies on “The Talk” wear tomorrow?
Diana Reese is a freelance journalist in Kansas City. She did not wear any makeup while writing this post. Follow her on Twitter @dianareese.