Steph Martin
Steph Martin

Stephanie Martin, a writer and editor in Colorado, has 20 years of Christian publishing experience.

Plano, Texas—For a project dubbed Operation Beautiful, more than 1,000 female students arrived at their high school sans makeup last week. The makeup-free day, which coincided with International Women’s Day, was the brainchild of three seniors who are trying to redefine beauty.

“Makeup shouldn’t be this big of a deal, and we shouldn’t be spending so much time on the outside,” said 17-year-old Madeline Milby. “I think a lot of the girls were relieved by a day without makeup,” which she said becomes a “security blanket.”

About 80 percent of the female population at Plano Senior High School participated, as did many female teachers. Students described a lively atmosphere, with many males complimenting their makeup-free classmates.

Senior class president Binna Kim, 18, said the project had its share of critics. “It really is more of a touchy subject than we first thought,” she said.

To promote Operation Beautiful, Milby, Kim, and Monica Plenger created a YouTube video about the time kids devote to getting ready for school every day. Girls admitted spending more than an hour on their beauty routines, while many guys get ready in minutes. “Guys are in shock,” Milby said. “They really are starting to realize how much pressure there is on girls.”

Through the project, Milby discovered that she doesn’t need makeup to be beautiful. “There’s so much more to me,” she said. “It’s your personality, your passion, and what’s inside your heart.”

Plenger said, “My true hope is that more people will start seeing the love and kindness in other people, rather than the fact that they’re not wearing makeup.”


Discsussion Questions:

  • What’s your reaction to Operation Beautiful? How well might a makeup-free day go over at your school? What type of support or complaints would you expect, and why?
  • How much time do you usually spend getting ready for school? What else might you be able to do with that time instead?
  • Girls: How do you feel without makeup on, and why? Guys: How much makeup do you prefer to see on a girl, and why? What constructive tips would you offer your opposite-sex peers about their grooming habits? What would you think—and say—if your peers spent less time in front of mirrors?
  • In what ways does makeup serve as a security blanket for many young people? What other types of security blankets are common among your peers? Why do they work or not work? How can kids function without them?
  • What accounts for our society’s strong focus on outer beauty? How much does outward appearance matter to you, and why?
  • What are some ways you can focus more on people’s personalities and heart? How can you encourage your peers to strive for godliness, while downplaying the role of physical attractiveness?
  • How would you rate your own inner beauty, and why? How can you make your inner beauty more of a priority than your outer beauty? What are some qualities you’d like to acquire or improve? What are the best ways to develop or strengthen those qualities?

Scripture links: 1 Samuel 16:7; Psalm 34:5; Proverbs 31:30; Song of Solomon 4:7; Matthew 23:28; and 1 Peter 3:3-4.

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