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  • sophiegilpin

Women telling women how to be women?

I feel conflicted about this:

One the one hand, I don't doubt that it's coming from a good place. Of course there are women who feel - to varying degrees - a pressure to conform to certain 'beauty' standards. And they should of course be empowered to liberate themselves from that if they so wish. The beauty industry should absolutely be reminded of the power they wield, particularly over young women, and calling brands out on insensitive or destructive advertising is incredibly important. The more conversations we can have about encouraging everyone to investigate their own choices, the better.

On the other hand, a call for "feminists [to] ditch your makeup bag" risks suggesting that a woman can't truly be free from this oppressive patriarchal regime unless we bare our naked faces to the world. (Please note I am using hyperbole for effect here!) It feels to me like yet another piece of unsolicited advice that tells women what we should and shouldn't do if we want to be *real* feminists. Burn your bra? Been there, done that. Wear trousers? Yep, done that too. Flat shoes? Why, of course. So what's next? Ah, yes... we must ditch makeup and hair dye.

The body hair debate seems to have struck a more even balance; more and more women are choosing to let nature take it's course and they are mostly (albeit quietly) being applauded for it. But those of us who prefer to have smooth legs and armpits are continuing to do so without anyone telling us that we'd be better women if we let it grow. (Although if anyone has experienced otherwise, do let me know!)

The problem for me is that this kind of article forces the argument into a binary choice: wear makeup and continue to be controlled by the patriarchal narrative, or don't wear it and demonstrate that you're a free, independent woman. These things are simply not mutually exclusive.

If I want to wear my coloured warpaint while I roll up my sleeves and fight for equal rights and opportunities, I will do so. And I will fight alongside my sisters whose warpaint is their moisturiser.



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