Entertainment

Why Porn Stars without Makeup Are so Fascinating

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Melissa Murphy's Instagram showcases dramatic before and after photos of porn performers.

Yesterday, porn makeup artist Melissa Murphy released 93 before-and-after shots of high profile porn actresses with and without their makeup on. Her Instagram went viral. The not-so-big shocker? Female porn stars have oily skin, blemishes, and look way normal before their faces are subjected to Barbie-esque amounts of foundation, mascara, and eyeliner.

There are severely drastic (and engrossing) differences between the before and after images. When asked about her no holds barred method of application, Murphy told HuffPost Weird News, "If you're going to make a woman beautiful, you're just going to make the woman beautiful."

But this raises the point, are these women actually more beautiful when their faces are painted? While some would say yes (including Murphy herself), the masses are largely broadcasting their realization that some of these actresses, if not all, look better without makeup. What we mean by “better” and “more beautiful” is perhaps that these more natural images coincide with the actual aesthetic we come across and seek in life for our sexual partners and girlfriends. One commenter on Metafilter speaks to the captivating quality of this humanization:

I think a lot of people look at porn stars and assume they are in a constant state of eyeliner and push-up bra, that they were born that way as the "lucky women" and that they couldn't possibly look like someone's sister or mom. I think it's always better when we realize that Hot People are actually dimensional people with identities and relationships, which to me is the difference between finding someone attractive/sexy and truly objectifying them.

Even more fascinating,  is why we even care. Last month, we were transfixed by the John Milward study, which found, contrary to the predominant blonde-with-big-jugs stereotype, the average porn star is a brunette with a B-cup named Nikki. Which, is to say, completely average. 

Our fascination seems to come from our incessant need for both immediacy and distance from the figures we fetishize and fantasize about. We are in awe that they look, "just like us," but perhaps we forget that they are us, because we too frequently see them as some removed product. Makeup is part of a performance and artifice, and when we get to see the nude faces of women we have grown to appreciate solely for that artifice, it forces us to regard them on equal footing with us.

We care because Murphy’s photos tell us a story about beauty accessibility. These photos take the unattainable appeal of the sexed-up stars down a peg, and in doing so make that ideal seem that much more reachable. And accessibility to beauty is one of the enduring fixations of our culture.

Photo via Melissa Murphy's Instagram