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No-Makeup Look, Hollywood Idea From France

This image of Cate Blanchett is a good example of Hollywood's idea of the "no makeup look". Here she is dressed rather casually, in an androgynous black jacket and white shirt. While women have been wearing jackets modeled after men's jackets since the 1980's, they are still coded in Hollywood as a "male style".

To offset this "appalling" lack of glamour and femininity, Cate (or her dresser/stylist) has decided to give the spectators a glimpse of her chest: hence the unbuttoned, plunging v-neck of the shirt, which immediately counteracts her otherwise unsexy "look".

The other element of plainness is, of course, the little makeup used here. Cate wears some blush, eyeshadow, eyelineer, mascara, and a shade of lipstick not too far from her "real" (for a pale blonde) lip color. It's likely that she is also wearing foundation to even out her skin tone. (These are just the visible elements of her makeup, there may be other products used.) Her eyebrows have been plucked to lend them a feminine shape. For Hollywood, then, six makeup products when applied with restraint comprise the "no makeup look".

Cate is "lucky" in that she can pull this look off without offending or alienating the Hollywood power system. Cate's stealth weapons are her lips (which are puffy and provide an erotic point of focus for the spectator) and her blond hair (which is positioned by our Western culture as the ideal feminine shade and the height of desireability in a woman). Her plain hair style is not unlike something an eight-year old girl may wear, and this, along with her apple cheeks, lend her a youthful air. The youthful air excuses and compensates for Cate's otherwise unmadeup cosmetic appearance.