I can prove that make-up is feminist

I don’t think we place enough weight on the role that socialisation (learning to fit into the society we’re born in) plays in the development of our personality. We know that socialisation is important to our development, but what I’m not sure people understand is that when you’re brought up to want something (and you don’t end up rebelling against it), you genuinely want it. It’s not performative and it’s not lying to fit in. Society doesn’t just make us feel like we want something, it actually makes us want it. 

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For example, if you want to wear a white dress at your wedding, you want it because society told you to. But you also GENUINELY WANT IT, as honestly as I want a cup of coffee right now, or I wanted a shower when I woke up. Every fibre of the ‘what do I want to wear to my wedding’ part of your brain wants that dress. Being told that you shouldn’t have one is akin to being told that you aren’t allowed to have a cup of coffee. Your wants and needs are being denied, and it feels bad because they are real wants and needs.

I first started thinking about this because I couldn’t understand why it was that I liked make-up and pretty dresses so much. I wasn’t raised to like them, in fact my fairly radical parents went to great lengths not to expose me to gendered behaviour. Yet, there were influences. I still watched TV, I still knew what make-up was and who it was for. A child’s desire to fit can easily make it attracted to a certain toy, way of speaking, item of clothing or type of behaviour. I wanted to wear make-up when I was older, I felt a burning desire for a really pretty dress, and yes, it was because my friends and the women on TV had them.  I’d learned that make-up and dresses make you pretty, so I felt pretty in them. Kinda sheds a light on why we find it SO difficult to define beauty, doesn’t it!?

When we criticise something like make-up as ‘anti-feminist’ or damaging to women in some way, we are wrong. To say that would be to say that I am not allowed to do something that makes me feel good. We can’t simply overcome the way we were raised, especially when it’s something as relatively unimportant as putting stuff on your body to feel good. Getting a career, maintaining our mental health, enjoying life, these things are far more important. Let’s go back to the first example I gave; the white wedding dress. I’ve spent a lot of time being vehemently against them. However, after thinking about the idea that the ‘wants’ we learn from society are real and valid, I realised that actually, if you want a white wedding dress, it would be hurtful to hear someone say it was a bad thing. The white dress is steeped in the history of female oppression. It was wrong that society taught you to idolise it. But it is not wrong for you to want it. The same is true of nearly every ‘feminine’ behaviour that one might claim to be a result of a misogynistic society. Taking the man’s last name? Stay at home mums? Taking sexy photos? Think of anything you like. It isn’t just that women have been told they should want these things. They really want them.

At this point, it sounds like I’m being really patronising. ‘Leave women alone to do all the silly things they like doing, they’re not hurting anyone’ … but actually no, it’s much more important than that. We live in a society where we are simultaneously praised and put down for doing things that we want to do. We should have sex when men want us to, but if we have sex too much we’re sluts. We shouldn’t dress in revealing clothes but if a woman covers her hair she’s being oppressed. Society is not on our side, because society is not angled towards women’s wants and needs. I can’t think of a better way of telling society to fuck off than picking a few of the things it taught me to like and celebrating the shit out of them. I will tell you how beautiful you look in your wedding dress because it’s true, I will try to recreate that YouTube make-up look, and I will argue until I’m blue in the face about a woman’s right to cover, or uncover her body in front of others.

Counter examples, where people are raised to think, or want something that negatively impacts other people, only serve to highlight how ridiculous it is that we sanction harmless desires like wearing make-up. Being raised as a racist? A homophobe? These are serious problems, and honestly, I think a lot of people who have these feelings may need real help. You do not need counselling because it makes you feel good to post sexy instagram pictures.

It doesn’t matter whether society taught you to like something, hours of deep thinking taught you to like it, or it came ready made in your brain at birth. If you like it, do it, wear it, live it. Celebrate other women for doing the things that make them feel good, so we can finally enjoy ourselves without society’s permission.

What do you think? I would love to hear some feedback on this!

 

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13 thoughts on “I can prove that make-up is feminist

  1. Baby I am making “Praise Hands” emoji all up on here right now. My most precious tenet of feminism is freedom of choice, and not judging anyone for the choices they make. Hookers and housewives, CEOs and SAHMs are all making THE RIGHT CHOICE for THEM! Wear your makeup! High-five the girl without any makeup on! Vive la CHOICE!!! I LOVED THIS PIECE!!! Found you on Twitter – my blog: meghansara.com

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  2. Yesssss! I’ve missed reading your posts ❤️ Makeup is so perfect for self expression and whenever people say we do it for men I’m like ?? Does that mean men that wear makeup are doing it for men too? I did not spend 45 minutes in Boots trying to find the right shade of Bourjois foundation for a man I can tell you that xox

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  3. This is such a brilliant brilliant post! I get so annoyed by people saying stuff like “you can’t be a feminist if…”. It keeps the blame on women for being oppressed, and is the opposite of empowering. I love what you’ve said about it!

    http://eggplantemoji.com

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  4. I’ve had the exact same predicament! My dad said how sexism won’t stop until women stop wearing makeup, doing their hair nice in the workplace etc etc. I was like WHAT and first of all started to say that part of the reasons was because society has started all of the beauty standards. And he said that’s what he means, people should stop having the attitude that you have to be beautiful. So I thought fair pay, but I really really really WANT to wear make up! I spent a good night arguing about it then sleeping on it and I realised it’s fine because mainly, it’s an art form and self-expression. Self expression that make me feel better. So I completely agree, who gives a frick WHY I want it, I just bloody want it 🙂 Hear hear! xxxxxxxxxx

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