Why I Can’t Stop Looking at Pamela Anderson Without Makeup
On February 7, Pamela Anderson shared an editorial photoshoot for WWD. In it, Anderson was bare faced, and she had a lot to say about not wearing makeup.
Anderson wrote: “I’d rather show my freckles. It’s fun getting old. It’s a relief. At a certain age we look younger and fresher without makeup. This is me — I’m happy with who I am right now.”
We’re used to seeing “no makeup makeup” beauty looks on 21-year-old models and TikTokers touting their “clean girl beauty” routines. Seeing a celebrity in her 50s fresh faced on the cover of a magazine? It’s more notable.
But, it’s not unheard of. Jennifer Lopez went viral for going bare-faced on Instagram. Adele recently made headlines for a makeup-free shoot (at, gasp, 34). Model Paulina Proizkova has made a social media career for herself posting makeup-free selfies and unedited nudes.
Why Does Pamela Anderson’s Makeup-Free Look Hit Different?
Anderson’s 90s beauty aesthetic has been trending since the release of Hulu’s “Pam & Tommy”. From her beehive bun to her pencil-thin brows, overlined lips and navy-lined eyes, everyone from Doja Cat to Kim Kardashian has picked up on the trend.
Anderson denounced the limited series. In the Netflix documentary “Pamela, a Love Story”, Anderson said that the release of “Pam & Tommy” gave her “nightmares”. Alongside the Netflix documentary, Anderson also released a memoir titled “Love, Pamela”.
In both, the professional sex symbol reveals herself to be charming, funny, vulnerable and disarmingly self-aware. She also talks frankly about life as a desirable woman, something that — even in celebrity interviews — is rare to come by. Talking about being pretty is pretty much a social taboo (to quote Regina George, “So, you think you’re really pretty?”).
While pretty privilege might be real, Anderson proves being the pretty girl isn’t always fun. Indeed, Anderson’s career as a sex symbol has seen her experience the pointy end of male desire.
In one scene, Anderson addresses how she feels her appearance and occupation played out in her relationships. Perched barefoot and barefaced towards the end of the film, she reflects on her attraction to “very hetero” men, before addressing their attraction to her.
“Their initial attraction to me might be, ‘oh she’s this Playboy thing, or this kind of sexual thing’,” she muses, “but I’m not the damsel in distress. I’m very capable and some men hate you for being something else.”
Pamela Anderson’s No Makeup Moment Is Closing the Loop
While Anderson herself is philosophical about he experiences, they’re common ones.
In “Pamela, a Love Story”, Anderson maps a lifetime of trying to express her beauty and sexuality. When your business is tied to your looks, it often comes at the expense of your personhood, and we see Anderson struggle to walk the tightrope of embracing her looks while not being reduced to them. Performing femininity is a double-edged sword, Anderson’s life is a testament to that.
Seeing Anderson embracing herself with no makeup at 55 on the cover of a title like WWD feels like a closed loop. She’s specifically not rejecting beauty standards. She never has. She openly says she feels “younger and fresher without makeup.” But she does seem to be unapologetically embracing herself.
We exist in a world where women are critiqued for wearing makeup and reaching for filler, equally critiqued for not doing so, and sent patronisingly viral for going bare-faced at 34, like Adele.
Anderson’s post has provided me, at least, the February mood boost I needed.