When Hillary Clinton spoke at a Children’s Defense Fund event Wednesday night—her first appearance since her concession remarks—her message was similar to the one she delivered the day after the election: Don’t give up. Fight for what you believe in. It’ll be worth it in the end.
But there was a striking difference between the two speeches: the way she looked. This week Clinton came on stage without her trademark coif of waves; her hair was a bit straighter, a bit flatter. And she was wearing very little—if any—makeup. It was a stark departure from her carefully curated campaign style and reminiscent of the makeup-free look that some celebrities—notably, singer Alicia Keys—have embraced as a way to defy the sometimes overwhelming societal pressure to always look perfect.
Naturally, Clinton’s critics characterized her appearance as “tired and defeated,” but others cheered it as evidence of a freer, less fussed-with Clinton, whose every step wasn’t so choreographed. The latter assessment may be salt in the wounds of heartbroken Clinton supporters since it hits on a key criticism of the former secretary of State in the lead-up to the election—she was too stiff, she was impersonal and inauthentic. Her new, laid-back look on display Wednesday night comes too late to benefit Clinton, the candidate. But for those interested in—or even concerned about—the future of Clinton, the woman, it was refreshing to finally see her wipe decades of caked-on campaigning off her face.