Lipstick Feminism: One Gal’s Take

I’ve been thinking about lipstick feminism, consumerism, and all things style, beauty, and fashion.

First of all, I love my skinny jeans. I’m not big on makeup, but I rarely go out without blush and mascara. I own THREE pairs of Ugg boots (I don’t really care if you think they’re fashionable or ugly). I don’t dye my hair, but I have numerous Nike tempo shorts and I admit that in reality, they don’t help me to run any faster. I was trained by advertisers to be a consumer. Am I a bad feminist? I don’t think I am. I do think that my habits and my fixation with looks and style goes to show that even (some) feminists aren’t immune to the pressures of the media. We too feel pressure to look “beautiful” as is stereotypically exploited, and we feel the pressure to be consumers.

All of this has me thinking about lipstick feminism… can it be liberating to wear high heels and feel sexy? I say, absolutely, yes. But I think fitting into what is stereotypically seen as beautiful, and following the status quo by doing the hair thing, the makeup thing, and the fashion thing that society expects women to do is not exactly feminism at its finest. (Feel free to criticize me, I’m quite young and in truth, new to all of this.) Do I think a woman sporting a face of makeup and high heels is a bad feminist? Absolutely not, not even for a second. I think there’s nothing wrong with women wanting to feel sexy and attractive. Most everyone wants to feel like they look good. However, I think that women following these expectations is not exactly liberating in the way we want it to be liberating. I think we’re simply doing what the media wants us to do: SPEND MONEY. On products. Clothes, shoes, makeup… it’s all so expensive and painfully unnecessary.

So why, WHY can’t I stop spending money on Clinique makeup, jeans that cost $100, and flashy tops that look “great” on a Friday night out? Basically, I think, because the advertisers and marketers have me right where they want me. They have me feeling insecure. They have me believing that I need these things to feel good about myself. I shouldn’t, but I so often give into these pressures.

I know there are women who refuse to buy makeup. Refuse to shave their armpits and legs. Spend conservative amounts of money on fashionable clothing. I admire these strong women. I wish I was so strong that I could truly value my mind over my appearance. Sometimes I think I really do, other times I am not so sure.

I dream of a world where women and men are nearly equal in their consumption of goods that are created to enhance stereotypical beauty. A world where women don’t feel like they need to wear makeup or buy expensive clothing or have impossibly smooth skin. At the same time I dream of this, I can’t imagine myself with body hair. Makeup-less. Dressed in a way that makes me blend into the crowd. Honestly, I would hate it. I would hate it because the advertisers have taught me to dislike myself the way I was really born – hairy, with blonde eyelashes and no natural sense of this thing called “fashion.”

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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