How are you doing in isolation? Hopefully coping as well as Heidi Klum is, swaddled in a knitted beanie and scarf, clutching a heart-shaped rock, eyes peacefully closed, face unadorned with makeup.
Or maybe you’re a Julianne Moore, doing virtual yoga at home, cheeks flushed not by blush but a recent workout. You have many famous avatars to choose from: Zoe Kravitz, Katy Perry, Vanessa Williams, Bella Hadid, Kaia Gerber, and her mother Cindy Crawford.
While defending her ex, Governor Andrew Cuomo, from internet rumors about his supposed nipple-piercing (yes, quarantine has broken all of our brains), Sandra Lee wore what appeared to be very comfortable Fair Isle knit pajamas, and not a lick of foundation, brown roots peeking from the top of her blonde hair dye. Super “real,” very normal, just like us at home on our couches—if you ignore her mammoth living room behind her, complete with a gilded full length mirror and life-size marble statue of a female form.
Celebrities may be going makeup-free like the rest of humanity, but they’ve been preparing for this moment for much of their professional lives. Julianne Moore gets regular “bespoke” facials from Teresa Tarmey’s Tribeca Clinic, which can cost more than $360 an hour. Just a month before we were told to stay at home, Bella Hadid—then jetting around the world for fashion month—stopped for a 24-karat gold facial with celebrity esthetician Mimi Luzon. (You can buy an at-home serum for $299.)
As Amanda Hess wrote this week in The New York Times, “Celebrity culture is burning.” Seeing women who participate in a rarefied economy that allows them to trade in their good genes and Instagram following for free skincare products go without foundation isn’t exactly relatable for the rest of us currently prioritizing things like rent or groceries over a Sephora order. As a friend glibly commented on her Instagram story, a screenshot of a Just Jared post on makeup-free celebrities, “How brave.”
Madonna, the most successful female solo artist of all time, has always, rightly lived in her own reality; it’s no surprise she displayed a remarkable level of tone-deafness when she called coronavirus “the great equalizer” while sitting naked in a rose bath. At 61 years old, her creaseless skin looked remarkable—until you remember her skincare line totes a $600 “Rejuvenator Set” of masks. (For what it’s worth, it’s currently sold out.)
Women, especially famous ones, have been conditioned to equate their personal worth to their appearance. Taking off makeup and throwing one’s hair in a messy bun can feel like a sacrifice. Ivanka Trump, who told Yahoo Finance she’s reading The Odyssey and learning to play guitar while social distancing—like “every parent around the country” is supposedly doing right now—took to Instagram to prove just how much she’s suffering alongside us.
A few days prior, the daughter of the president took to Instagram to post a video. From a particularly fluorescent room of her D.C. home, which costs $15,000 a month, Ivanka swapped her usual blowout with a ponytail, kept her skin clear, and wore a decidedly unstylish henley top.
“It goes without saying that this will be an enormous challenge for all of us, individually and collectively,” she began her useless speech, filled with cliches about how we need to stay strong, resilient, and inside. The video is less about her words, and more showing Ivanka trying on the casual uniform of the rest of us, a visual reminder that she, too, is going through it.
Well, at least for a little while. Three days later, Ivanka uploaded a second photo of her “checking in” with the Small Business Administration team through FaceTime.
Gone were the sweats and the messy bun, replaced by a turquoise coat dress and loose waves. Her time cosplaying real mom sufficiently served, Ivanka was back as Ivanka, spidery mascara and all. It took less than a week, an important reminder for all those eyeing makeup-free selfies from the ultra-rich: they are not like us.