By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
A school nurse who has been trying for years to promote positive self-image among girls has taken her idea to the Legislature — by inviting women in the body to celebrate No-Makeup Monday.
And while the movement is still small, a handful of female state representatives for Wyoming walked into the House on Monday with bare faces.
Rachel Smith has worked as an elementary school nurse in Cheyenne for 11 years. She started going without makeup on Mondays in 2019, and has since gotten some of her female coworkers to do the same.
She told Cowboy State Daily that the action isn’t intended to condemn anyone for wearing makeup, but simply to strengthen women’s and girls’ abilities to make the choice on makeup use for themselves without the pressure of society’s beauty expectations.
‘Beautiful The Way You Are’
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told sixth-grade girls, 12-year-old girls ‘You’re beautiful the way you are,’” said Smith, adding “I don’t think sixth-grade girls and young girls should feel pressured to wear makeup.”
But it felt odd, she said, to share that message from under a fresh layer of color.
“If you’re sitting there telling a sixth-grade girl she’s beautiful without makeup, and you’ve got your makeup done every day – to the nines – she’s obviously still going to feel that pressure,” said Smith.
That realization hit her around the same time she decided, in 2019, to forego makeup occasionally to keep her skin healthier. When she did that, said Smith, the response wasn’t good.
“People would always ask ‘Are you tired? Are you sick?’” she said. “It’s almost demeaning sometimes, for women who want to go out without makeup and get tired of people asking them if they’re sick and tired and ill.”
And that’s when she decided to start a movement that could rework those expectations.
“I talked to some of my coworkers, and I said ‘I’m going to go without makeup on Mondays. If you’d like to join me you can. No judgment: if you don’t want to, don’t join me,’” she said.
About four co-workers did join her, and No-Makeup Monday is now an ongoing tradition.
Smith, who married state Rep. Landon Brown, R-Cheyenne, in December, decided this month to invite her husband’s female colleagues to the movement as well.
“I recognize the strange feeling you might be getting regarding an email with the title of ‘Makeup’ and coming from a male legislator,” Brown wrote in a letter to female legislators last week. “But I would like to explain a great movement that is taking place here in Cheyenne.”
Brown said the movement was created by his wife to “help young girls recognize the importance of inner self-beauty.”
“It might be of interest to the women of the House and potentially the Senate,” he wrote.
Female lawmakers have the ability to empower girls and young women to make image choices for themselves, not because of the pressures of society, Brown later told Cowboy State Daily.
“Just about every year we’ll see class loads of kids coming into our Legislature all the way from fourth and fifth grade to seniors in college. There are college interns there with us,” he said. “I absolutely think our legislators and Legislature… have the ability to impact these young girls’ lives.”
‘Confidence Comes From Inside’
Rep. Shelly Duncan, R-Lingle, took up Smith’s invitation.
“This could spark conversations of positive imagery and confidence in young girls or women,” she told Cowboy State Daily.
“The conversation is not about makeup but about self-confidence and belief in self-worth, and mainly that ‘You are enough just like you are,’” she wrote. “I think that is a powerful message to send.”
Duncan, like Smith, emphasized that the movement should not shame women who choose not to participate, but rather, should be a beacon of positive self-image over societal pressure.
“Confidence,” she said, “comes from inside.”