Last time in our Feminism In Action series, we talked about being mindful of our motivations.
This time we’re dealing with something more specific, something very, very close to us.
The beauty industry preys on the insecurities that are instilled in us mostly by media. Every movie and TV show is full of thin women with amazing hair and perfect makeup. Commercials tease us with the idea of looking younger (because we’re getting old) and flawless (because no one loves you unless you’re perfect.)
Forbes writes, “If the consumer economy had a sex, it would be female. Women drive 70-80% of all consumer purchasing.”
Wow, hold that thought.
And a lot of that spending power is devoted to bullshit. We are kept worrying about what we look like instead of anything important. My mother used to tell me that school wasn’t a fashion show. But for women, life is a fashion show!
We throw our money at our aging skin while we continue getting older but not wiser. I’ve known grown women who can tell you all about dozens of beauty products and know next to nothing about what is going on in the world. How is this okay?
Culture doesn’t make money because you can’t mass-produce it. Which is why our society is full of garbage. The Capitalist machine is largely built on the unpaid labor of women, and our generous donations so we can feel pretty.
Interrogating our beauty regime is very important. I’m not talking about personal hygiene or skincare like hydrating creams and sunscreen. There is a line between taking care of yourself and primping, and that line is function.
What is the function of your practice? Taking care of yourself is not expensive, and being healthy is more attractive than any amount of makeup. So I’m not suggesting you give up on your appearance.
But what if you spent the energy you’ve devoted to getting your paint job just right to learning a physical activity you enjoy? What if you took that giant buying power you didn’t realize you had and put it towards your grocery budget? You’d eat great and be in better shape, both of which benefit you and those you love, and not some corporation.
But it makes me feel feminine! I hear you say.
Well reading Harry Potter makes me feel like a wizard, and that’s about as real or useful.
Why does everything “feminine” seem to be constraining and time-consuming?
And anyway, what exactly is more feminine than being female? The idea that a woman’s natural state is somehow unfeminine is absurd. We pile so much on top of that simple concept that it threatens to fall and crush us like the newspapers in a hoarder’s apartment.
You do not need anyone’s help to be feminine. You are not any less of a woman if you don’t adhere to the supposed rules.
A great friend of mine is happily married with three kids. She also has a doctorate and teaches at the college level. She has always had the ability to take on things that worked for her and leave out things that didn’t. She wears nice clothes but doesn’t wear makeup or worry about her body hair. She does wear some jewelry and is a lovely person in general.
She has inspired me many times since I met her almost 30 years ago. She comes from a family of wonderful people so she does have that advantage, but she is an example to me of what we can accomplish when we are not diverted into bullshit.
I admit that I am also reminding myself here. It’s hard not to be self-conscious about getting older. But let’s stop letting the media make us feel inadequate.
Put down the foundation. It’s bad for your skin and full of chemicals you don’t need. Taking care of your self and skin will do a lot to even out whatever you are covering up.
Put down the lipstick. The average woman eats several pounds of it a year without meaning to, and a lot of it still has lead in it.
Your beloved coverup is a breeding ground for bacteria, which you are then smearing all over your face! Wearing chemicals regularly will age your skin prematurely, thereby making you want to wear more makeup. Don’t suppose the marketers thought of that one, huh?
Keep a few items if you like, your basic kit, and pull it out for special occasions. Replace them regularly. Otherwise, own your face. Let the world see you and what an activated Feminist looks like. What a woman looks like.
Let’s put our money where our mouth is! Little things add up, and we will be more effective in the world when we stop devoting so much energy to the superficial.