Boys, A Job, and Ourselves (Among Other Things)

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You know there's nothing wrong with getting dolled up in the hopes that someone would notice. I mean despite what some people say, it's pretty chill to get cute for someone other than yourself.

I sit here one eyebrow stinging slightly after giving it a gentle pluck to remove any hair that doesn't fit the shape I want, thinking about how that one boy who is relatively cute that I see occasionally might notice me because of how to bomb my eyebrows are. Kidding, I actually didn't think that. But I did go all out with my makeup that one day I did see him. Highlight so bright he thinks I'm a sun goddess....that sounded clever in my head and there's no way to amend it or make it sound better. Edit: I'm totally over it...

But I DIGRESS! Anyway, the point is he probably didn't notice me and if he did it had nothing to do with how I look. So why do I try? Am I compromising my morals doing this? Is it really unfeminist to get cute for anyone but yourself?

The easy answer to that is no. No, it's not un-feminist to do your makeup in order to attract a boy. No, it's not un-feminist to get your hair done for anyone but yourself and to look good for people that aren't you. And no, it's not unfeminist to wear makeup and get dressed up and do things like shaving your legs for someone other than yourself.  There are multiple layers to the reasons why people have/don't have to do theses things (or even want to).  Getting a job, getting a date, being seen as competent, just even being able to pass or conform to what women are 'supposed' to look like, are all reasons why people do the things they do.

So , why is it seen as being unfeminist to do so? Well, I think that because of the fact that mainstream feminism  is essentially a very basic version of feminism that (I've seen) has a habit of denouncing/rebuking the idea that women can do things or perform 'traditional feminine' roles for anyone but themselves. Which is untrue and shows that basic feminism (intro feminism 100.99999) is just that, basic and inconsiderate of the nuances of the world.This sort of feminism is also referred to as white feminism (not to be confused with white women who engage in feminism, though the two sometimes tend to overlap).

An example of basic/white feminism is making the claim that women are paid 78 cents (is it 78 or 73) to a man's dollar. This is true but it's actually white women that make 78 cents while black women make less than that, Native American/Hawaiian women make less than that and latina women make less than that.The claim is correct but it wasn't inclusive of the fact that not all women make the same amount.

So anyway mainstream feminism really promotes this idea that women don't have to wear makeup, look good, conform to beauty standards unless they want to. Mainstream feminism also has this little creeping idea that if you do, do these things for anyone other than yourself (especially if it's for a man) it makes you a lesser feminist or not really a feminist. They rarely say this idea out loud but it still comes across in this way.

And although it can be so empowering to do stuff because you want to, that's not the reality of all women. Lots of women do conform to beauty standards and do traditionally feminine things for tons of reasons. I wear makeup because I want to, but I also know the way that (me wearing) makeup affects me and others around me. I know that I benefit from it and think that it helps me navigate through daily life better.  Other women wear makeup because they have to. I know women who wear makeup in order to work and be seen as competent or present a certain image of themselves at work (there's a study on this). I also know that there are women who don't have stereotypical 'feminine' features and use makeup in order to look more feminine and to align with what's typically thought of as womanly features. All these things basically add up to this greater need to survive in the real world. It is so difficult to navigate the real world already, now imagine adding other factors on top of it. Someone's makeup and doing it for people who aren't yourself, and for the purpose of being able to traverse through certain spaces, is the only way for a person to survive.

I mean I totally get the fact that most mainstream feminism wants women and girls to know that they shouldn't present themselves a certain way because a guy wants them to look that way (i.e wearing minimal makeup because guys think girls look better that way while they love wearing full faces of makeup). I just question the way that the message is being put out there. I agree that the way society forces women to perform and look a certain way is wrong and the expectations of what a woman is and should look like are beyond ugly. However, the proclamation that 'women wear makeup for ourselves' is false and creates this implication that women who wear makeup for someone other than herself (and *gasp* even worse a man!) are lesser feminists. I mean it creates this nasty wheel that causes lots of young girls to be confused about what 'good' feminists are supposed to be and makes them believe that because they don't do this certain thing it makes them bad feminists. And by god let's not go into the girls who are into feminism but also love getting cute to impress boys.

By the by, I think that looking good to attract/impress a boy is completely fine. I have no issue with girls who do this. I am a girl who does this. I love doing it too. I'm also fine with women who want to shave because they know their boyfriend/spouse likes it. The key phrase here is that they 'want' (say it with me now), want to do it. I have issues with the fact that women are goaded into doing things and looking a certain way by men when they would really prefer to look another way (am I making sense?).

Also, I have a huge issue with the image that is usually presented of women who choose to wear makeup for themselves aka the face of mainstream feminism. But, I feel like that's a talk for another time/day. I just think that I should end with this: Not all women's experiences are the same. Not all women wear makeup for themselves. Not all women have the privilege to do so.Wearing makeup for yourself is a wonderful feeling, but while outward appearances affect the type of life a person will experience, it's just not a realistic option for many women.

You're not a bad feminist for wearing makeup because you have to get a job, or you have to align what women are supposed to look like. Hey! You're not a bad feminist for wearing a lipstick that your datemate, crush, or potential suitor, likes on you. You're not a bad feminist for doing things that society is pressuring you to do. I think the message that we should be conveying is, do what you have to do and what you think is right for you. I guess, I just want young girls to know that feminism and whether you're a good one or a bad one, doesn't come from your reason for wearing makeup.

*I don't believe I covered every reason why a person wears makeup but know there are tons of reasons that are not necessarily in the control of the makeup wear-er. *

What are your opinions on this? Tell me a story about the time you got dolled up for someone other than yourself ! Why do YOU wear makeup?

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