So, I’m a little nervous about posting this. Maybe more nervous than I’ve ever been about posting something, but I think it’s important and I want to say it, so here goes…
I identify as a feminist. I think people should be treated equally, regardless of anatomical bits. Women deal with some pretty awful stuff that men don’t have to deal with. I think that some deep-seated cultural ideas about gender and society have pretty effectively messed with our collective conscious for pretty much all of time.
(I will take a break here to say that I am aware of many of the different ways that other people are disenfranchised, including but certainly not limited to, men, people of color, gay, lesbian, bi, and trans people, people with disabilities, poor people, et al. In writing this, I am in no way attempting to belittle or disregard the struggles that any of these people face. In fact, since humans are messy, lots of us fit into more than one of those neat little categories! Neat! Anyway, all of that said, this post is specifically about my experience as a woman and about some of the observations I’ve made and some of the opinions I’ve formed. I think it’s mostly important to keep an open mind and try to look at things from all possible perspectives before forming opinions, and it’s especially important to think about what you want to say before you say it. I have thought about this a lot.) Phew. Disclaimer over.
So anyway, I recently read a Thought Catalog piece all about things feminists are missing. Despite the fact that some T-Cat can sometimes read a little self-involved, arrogant, and plain annoying, I liked this one and it really resonated with me because it eloquently and concisely articulated some thoughts I’ve had about feminism. In the piece, writer Chrissy Stockton posits that there is no “right” way to do feminism and that, perhaps more importantly, there is no “wrong” way to do it. She says, “if you believe in gender equality and are open to thinking about how culturally ingrained ideas about gender impact the fairness of the world we live in, you get an A for effort.” Agreed.
So, yes, I am a feminist. And I think it’s fine that I shave my legs and I love clothes. Sometimes I wear a lot of makeup and sometimes I don’t wear any. I like to indulge in glossy fashion mags not because I think they will tell me all the tricks to being the BEST WOMAN EVER, but because they’re fun and entertaining, the same way a movie or TV show is. Liking these things does not make me a bad feminist, nor does it exclude me from the club altogether. In fact, I think that it’s because of feminism that I can have these interests and still be deeply interested in and passionate about things like education for girls worldwide, stopping rape culture, and the ridiculous pay gap.
And as far as magazines go, print media is as old as the hills. Hemming and hawing over what magazines should or shouldn’t run isn’t going to make them change. Media really exists for one sole purpose: to make money. If we want to see a difference in the way beauty ideals are internalized by young girls and adult women alike, the change has to come from us. Rather than poring over those shiny, unattainable images and allowing them to set a standard for beauty, flip through and see if you see anything you would like to do with your appearance because it would be fun or make you feel good. At the end of the day, that’s what matters when it comes to this stuff. If we open a magazine with the mindset that we are in charge of how we interpret the images within it and know full well that they are not realistic in almost any capacity, we’ll have a lot more fun and a lot less heartache from them. (Seriously. Shirts wrinkle when you wear them and sometimes your hair gets frizzy and no one has pore-less skin. No one! Don’t get me started on the Photoshop!) Media, especially media targeted at women, plays to our insecurities, even ones we weren’t aware of in the first place. “Look ten pounds thinner overnight!” “Get rid of those unsightly under-eye circles!” “Get that glossy hair you’ve always wanted!” “This product will change your life!” Do I need to lose ten pounds? … I didn’t know I had under-eye circles… Is my hair not glossy enough now? …
As soon as we recognize that these insecurities are being imposed upon us and refuse to adopt them into our psyches, we can have fun with magazines and makeup and fashion.
I guess my whole point here is that I think you can be a feminist and care what lipstick you wear and I get frustrated by hyper-polarized views that say otherwise.
I think that you can read magazines and enjoy fashion and pluck your eyebrows into whatever shape your heart desires, but here is the kicker: you have to be doing it for you. And that’s when feminism steps in. You have to realize that if you don’t do those things, you’re still just as beautiful, fantastic, amazing, and worthy of praise as you would be if you did and you don’t have to live up to anyone’s standard but your own. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but I think it’s one I’ve finally internalized. We don’t need to fit a mold to be beautiful (cliche, I know, but true!) So, my lovely lady friends (and man friends) you read those magazines and wear that lipstick and make your hair as glossy as you want because you want to. And have fun with it. It would be pretty dumpy if feminism disallowed us from enjoying things that our society essentially programs us to enjoy in order to be in the club, and feminism is anything but dumpy. And, if you don’t want to read magazines or wear lipstick or have glossy hair, that’s cool too! Just remember, you’re fine, nay, GREAT exactly the way you are already, so don’t let the bastards get you down. They’re just trying to trick you into buying their stuff so they can make more money. I think it’s fun to look pretty, but it doesn’t really matter at all how many people think I have great hair. And sometimes, I don’t feel like looking pretty, and on those days, I don’t shower and I wear spandex pants, and that’s okay too- because my worth is not defined by my appearance.
Anyway, I suppose this concludes my public reconciliation of the fact that a.) I am a raging feminist and will argue until I’m blue in the face that women and men deserve equal treatment and b.) I own 54 lipsticks. Seriously. 54. Now back to your regularly scheduled OotD and DIY extravaganza posts (seriously. I’m back!) Thanks for reading, loves.