Carmen Rasmusen Herbert: No makeup, no problem: High school girls create 'Operation Beautiful'

Published: Wednesday, March 20 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

On March 8, a group of high school girls from Plano Senior High School decided to plan a “no makeup” day at school. They called their plan “Operation Beautiful.”

“A while back we heard of a school doing this before, and we thought it’d be a really cool idea to bring it to our school,” Madeline Milby, 17, vice president of the student congress and a senior at PSHS, told ABC News. “The goal for this project is to promote inner beauty and to let girls know it’s not about what’s on the outside but about what’s on the inside, and that’s what makes you beautiful.”

I watched this short segment on Good Morning America last week, and I had goosebumps break out on my arms when I saw an entire gym full of boys and girls cheering these ladies on as they swiftly wiped their makeup away.

“We’re not trying to say that, you know, don’t wear makeup ever again,” says senior class president Binna Kim in a video these girls made for YouTube to gain school support. “What we really want to do on this day is to prioritize bettering yourself on the inside rather than bettering yourself on the outside.

I have had the opportunity to tour with Deseret Book’s Time Out for Women and Time Out for Girls events for several years now, and this is something I’ve actually done onstage while speaking to girls.

Outer beauty can be “wiped away” in an instant. True, lasting beauty — the kind that makes you stand out from the crowd and radiates goodness and light — cannot be created by brush strokes or mascara wands.

That kind of magic happens when you discover who you are and love yourself for it. It happens when you do good. It happens when you give. It happens when you forget yourself.

Of course, we all want to feel beautiful and make ourselves pretty on the outside. I am all for taking care of your body and physical appearance because I honestly feel better when I feel put together.

But I think the problem comes when we, and through our example teach our kids, nieces, sisters and friends, spend more time on our appearance than on our character.

The girls at PSHS explained they got into a conversation one day with the boys about how long it took them to get ready for school in the morning.

“About five minutes,” one of them said.

Compared to about an hour, which is how long it took many of the girls to get ready.

“I just really began to see how I don’t need makeup to be beautiful,” said Milby. “There’s so much more to me. It’s your personality, your passion and what’s inside your heart.”

The girls said the reaction from fellow students regarding the initiative was mostly positive.

It’s easy for me, as a married woman who feels like I’m not as stressed to impress anyone (although I do like to look nice for my husband), to tell young girls that they don’t need makeup to be beautiful and go bare-faced to an event. But as a senior in high school, I’m not sure I would have had that kind of confidence.

Stories like this give me so much hope for the youths of the world. For all the terrible and disappointing things being stressed in the media and thrown at our young children, this is a great example of a small group of girls who aren’t being swayed by what the world thinks.

“I think there’s pressure for girls to look a certain way, to meet a standard. The standard is being pushed through media and magazines and everything,” said Milby. “I’m really hoping it’ll make the girls at school feel more comfortable and see that they’re beautiful without makeup and they don’t need to use makeup to cover up themselves.”

What a beautiful and confident mind-set.

Carmen Rasmusen Herbert is a former "American Idol" contestant who writes about entertainment and family for the Deseret News.

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