Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Way I Look And How I Feel About Feminism

I was in a car, at a stoplight, in the evening, and the person driving, who I like a lot, wanted to know if I would answer a personal question and I said okay, and so I got asked what the deal was with my general failure to wear makeup. Which was kind of a funny thing to get asked. I don't know; we talked about it some. But it led me to contemplate the relationship between the way I actually dress and look and my feminist beliefs.

(By the way, this post started life as a comment on this recent post by Noko Marie, but got a little unwieldy for a comment.)

Because I think we can all agree that I look a lot like what you would imagine if you were to draw up in your mind kind of a stereotypical feminist image. I don't want to overstate the case, but I'm kind of hairy, and my hair is pretty short, and I don't wear makeup, and I wear pants mostly, and I'm slightly unkempt, and I could go on and mention the goddamn nose piercing, but I don't really think there's any point to it.

Nothing about the way I dress is mandated by my feminist beliefs. My feminist beliefs do not bar me from makeup or hair removal or the sporting of short skirts or high heels or panty hose or whatever your own secret personal version of archetypal femininity is. In fact, my feminist beliefs encourage the indulgence in and enjoyment of such things.

There's the complicated issue, discussed previously on this blog, of the intersection of personal indulgence and cultural coercion, but we'll leave that for another day.

So if somebody asks me why I don't wear makeup, in some ways the most honest answer is that it's a combination of laziness and slobbiness and intimidation and the disinclination to put anything on my face that I might find had shifted over several hours.

But at the same time, I feel disingenuous when I just say things like, "I'm too lazy to wear makeup," when I make it clear that my lack of makeup isn't a referendum on other people's makeup. Because I feel strongly that makeup shouldn't be a norm or a demand. Because I feel like it's important that I be able to look the way I mostly do without it being a political stance. Because my decision not to wear makeup isn't a statement, but my decision not to care about the fact that other people notice that I'm not wearing makeup is, I guess, one.


Noko Marie said...

When I was young I had the opposite of this experience: I used to wear a ton of makeup, and several people took me aside to tell me I'd actually look "more attractive" with less. I was like, Yes, I know, attractive isn't actually the main point of this activity for me."

Oh, wait, is that a socio-biological paradox? It's a real poser!

jackpot said...

You tell 'em "I don't wear makeup because I'm a fucking fox."