“My mom still wears makeup, even when it’s just me and my Dad. I don’t get it,” she said over brunch. I tried not to roll my eyes too hard lest they get stuck in the back of my head permanently, but stomaching my eggs over my roommate’s birthday meal while his girlfriend tried to talk about feminism was a bit difficult at the moment.
This is a concept that I run across occasionally during the feminist conversation: the notion that the pursuit of beauty is counterproductive to the feminist cause. As a woman who wears lipstick every day, I would like everyone to know: no, it is not. Just because you’ve decided to stop shaving your legs and looking attractive in a conventional way does not mean that your dedication to gender equality (or female superiority, whichever brand of feminist you are) is more sincere.
It’s easy to confuse young women by telling them that letting their mustaches grow out will help them get more in touch with their femininity, and, hey, if that works for you, then that’s great. However, much in the same way that a man cannot tell a woman that she should shave or wear high heels, a woman cannot tell me not to wear my high heels or shave my legs. It’s the same type of prison, just with a different gender designation. Sure, selling women beauty products is a capitalist trap in and of itself, but the desire to be beautiful – why, that’s just human, my dear.
As much as a feminist as I am, I am still a heterosexual woman, and, even when I’m having my homosexual trysts, I still want to be deemed attractive by my sexual counterparts because, well, that’s how the nature of sexual attraction works. It’s a concept that we learned about in biology class, back in sophomore year, what with the peacocks and their beautiful feathers, or the mating calls of whippoorwills – the drive for sexual reproduction drives the desire to be attractive, and from there we’ve wound up with six inch heels and mini skirts and ass implants. But don’t forget that a beautiful ass is more than a sexual play toy, but also a signifier of a woman’s ability to bear children.
Or maybe it’s the artist inside me that wants to be beautiful. That wants to seek beauty. That wants to create and to build and to make something that can inspire awe in men. It’s a fleeting feeling, but butterflies in stomach are legitimate as well, and if butterflies in stomachs is my medium of choice, then who’s to judge me? Feminists, apparently, but there’s dignity in beauty. There’s desire in beauty, and I’d like to think that looking good isn’t a weakness but a strength that can easily be coupled with my intellectual capabilities. Not to mention, in the long battle of the gender wars, why should women give up one of my personal favorite weapons: the ability to be beautiful? Because heaven knows that men are not blessed with the gift of beauty in the same way that women are, although, sure, if you want to open up conversations about the ridiculous standards of beauty that women are subjected to in America today – but, then again, I’d like to believe that each woman can think for herself and isn’t necessarily a victim to the farcical standards of “who wore what better.” But, rather, that each woman can be beautiful in her own way, and exploiting that for yourself should be an asset, not a weakness.
If you choose to be fine as fuck while fighting this gender war, well, I won’t blame you, baby girl.