Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Feminist in Makeup

This  blog post is going to be the first post in which I unleash the angry feminist who enjoys ripping males apart whilst they stammer over the sexist opinions, this post will undoubtedly be easy to disagree with and argumentative- you have been warned. Nothing riles me quite as much as the suggestion that a woman cannot be a "real" feminist if she chooses to invest in the makeup and fashion industry. It seems to be a common theme of the moment that the only women who have their opinions valued in society are those that appear to be "serious" women, men, or society in general seems keen to split women into two clear categories- 
  • Women who wear makeup, enjoy fashion and are attractive but are brainless and incapable of holding a valid view 
  • Women who are plain, unattractive and uninterested in fashion but have strong informed opinions on varying issues.

Whilst a man can easily be fashionable, attractive, intelligent and thoughtful all at the same time, women are too often made into one dimensional creatures that are expected to fit a a perfect mold of "pretty but dumb" or "clever but ugly". Too often I see girls being labelled  as "just a pretty face" without them ever even having a chance to voice their own thoughts and opinions. I don't mean to suggest that it is only men who are at fault for coming up with these ideas of women, I think often women themselves spend a lot of time trying to fit themselves into just one characteristic, often we choose to be "clever but ugly" because it is easier than having to prove ourselves otherwise. I clearly remember my Grand Mother suggesting that interviews were easier for pretty, well dressed females than those who were qualified and intelligent but didn't look right. I find it increasingly frustrating that girls are under pressure to appear attractive and polished but yet we aren't put under as much pressure to achieve academically, or to be confident in our own personalities. Going for an interview as a female is a lot more daunting because you know that your appearance does count, that no matter what your looks are what determines your value.

Another common theme I've noticed lately is the idea that if you buy makeup as a female, then you are supporting an industry that is sexist, and thus you can't be a feminist. Although the fashion and makeup industry has a lot to answer to in terms of making women feel inferior about themselves, makeup itself is not something that marginalizes women. I choose to wear makeup because I like it, I enjoy applying it, I enjoy being able to make myself look different and I enjoy aesthetically pleasing things. Just because I choose to wear makeup it doesn't mean I'm insecure, or that I think women are ugly without makeup on. I spend my money on lipsticks because I like the way they make me look, not for any other reason. Likewise, just because I enjoy buying things that are pretty colours and saying things like "I want more of a blue toned red", it doesn't mean that I have no other interests.

 Too often I think fashion and makeup are seen as these futile women's hobbies that only shallow people can enjoy, as if having a passion for lipstick is useless because it what is seen as a typical girl hobby. Not only does this not take into account the amount of men who are interested or work in the fashion and beauty industry, it also perpetuates the myth that makeup and fashion are only used to make people look pretty. Makeup and clothes can completely change the way you feel about yourself and others, they are much more powerful then they are given credit for because they can literally completely decide how you feel about someone. Why is it that we value hobbies such as reading more than fashion or makeup? I think mostly it is down to the idea that "girly" things are hardly ever serious. Women are expected to enjoy shopping or baking but we aren't expected to use these things to our advantage. Many top designers and chefs are men, somehow when a man likes a "girly" hobby they are taken as much more seriously, they are suddenly professional and important. When it comes down to it, a white silk shirt is still a white silk shirt, whether a man or a women is looking at it. Women are expected to enjoy their hobbies but not pursue them, we are not supposed to take ourselves seriously. 

I am going to stop here as I feel I have already gone off on a thousand different tangents. But on a closing note, I don't by any means think all women should wear makeup, or love fashion, I just feel that those of us that do shouldn't be dismissed as "silly little girls" who are shallow and appearance obsessed. Your appearance should only enhance your personality, you can own as many lipsticks as you want but you will only be truly happy when you accept who you are, not what people want you to be. 

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