I set myself a very challenging feminist New Year’s Resolution that I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep. Now it should be easy. It shouldn’t even be an issue in the first place but it feels revolutionary. I vowed to stop doing things in the name of beauty that causes me pain or discomfort.
Now by and large, this is not really an issue for men by and large, certainly not on the same scale. I asked around and none of the men in my life would do anything that caused them pain purely to look more handsome. Yet if I asked the same question to women, it’s a minority who could say that they didn’t do anything that caused them discomfort in the name of beauty. It should be a no brainer.
I decided to write a list of all of the things I currently do that causes me pain/discomfort so that I’m viewed as more attractive in society;
- Wear heels
- Wear shoes that give no support
- Wear shoes with no socks and getting blisters
- Wear tight clothes and holding in your stomach
- Pluck/wax hair that society deems ‘unfeminine;
- Shave hair that society deems unfeminine in areas that results in itchy regrowth/ingrown hairs
- Wearing bras (if we love to take them off so much, why are we wearing them in the first place?)
- Wearing heavy eye make-up that irritates your eyes
- Diets/exercise to fit in with societal body norms rather than for health and fitness
And that’s just the things that cause me pain/discomfort, not even the things that cause me inconvenience and expense. Time that is wasted that could be spent smashing goals or having fun.
It got me to thinking what would I look like if we no longer lived in a patriarchy?
Well I would leave my hair to grow wherever it grows on my body and purely trim it if it gets too long. I’d likely have a very short ‘boy’ hair cut, maybe even a shaved head. I would rarely wear make-up if ever. I would never wear a bra. I would only wear comfortable, loose clothes and supportive footwear. I would likely be fatter.
If I did even one of those things, others would likely shame me. Never mind doing all of them. I would certainly feel less attractive as I’ve been conditioned since birth to value myself more if I comply with ‘the beauty myth’.
#happyinternationalwomensday One of these underarms does not make me more feminine than the other. One of these underarms does not make me more masculine than the other. Both men and women grow hair. Adults have body hair, it’s children who do not. I’m not a child! One doesn’t make me smellier or grosser than the other. It really shouldn’t have any impact on how I’m perceived by anyone, or myself. Let’s stop shaming women for having body hair. I don’t want my daughter’s first thoughts on growing body hair to be shame and embarrassment like mine were. I want to feel attractive if I don’t shave. I want women to be truly free to choose whether they want to remove their body/facial hair or not. Not because we’ve been indoctrinated by society to only feel attractive if we are hairless. You may think this is a frivolous issue for #iwd2017 but it’s just one part of the wider issue isn’t it? When we are worrying about crap like armpit hair and wasting time with it’s ridiculous never ending cycle of removal then we are wasting time we could be enjoying or making those big gains in life, politics and business. If you add up the time and money spent over a life’s time it wouldn’t be insignificant. I’m so over it. Or at least I’m trying to be. Do join me won’t you. (Ps both armpits now look the same again, hairy or not, they should probably match I guess)
My current style
It’s not like I do a lot to start with, not compared to many women. I’m pretty ‘low maintenance’. I don’t do any cosmetic surgery or anything like that. I mostly don’t wear make-up daily. Christ, I don’t even shower daily because, toddlers, you know. I’ve begun to remove my body hair less and less over time but I still feel embarrassed if it’s on show in public. I’m working on that.
I largely don’t wear bras and just wear nursing vests with ‘in-built support’. I wear baggier clothes so people can’t tell if I’m wearing a bra or not. If I’m wearing something tighter then I do wear a bra though purely because the saggy boob look isn’t one that society approves of.
I gave up diets and rigorous exercise when I had children BUT I’d be lying if I didn’t say I still considered some foods ‘good’ and some ‘bad’ and feel incredibly guilty if I ate too many ‘bad’ ones. I do feel crappy about myself when I gain weight – another thing I’m working on. Very occasionally I paint my nails. My style is largely t-shirts/sweaters and jeans, the occasional dungaree dress. I’m happiest in an indie/scruffy style. I only wear heels on special occasions if I won’t be walking/standing much.
The struggle is real
I’m a pretty confident woman but I think I will struggle with my aim. I’m trying to get there though and I’m making small steps towards it. It’s going to be a gradual journey and that’s ok. This year I’m toying with the idea of no longer weighing myself too so I don’t define myself by a number on the scales. I’m educating myself about body positivity and surrounding myself in that community. I’m definitely staying the hell away from ‘women’s magazines’ that seem to have the sole purpose of tearing women apart (why are we still buying these!).
So that’s where I’m at. Do you do things that cause you pain and discomfort in the name of beauty? Do you think you could give them up? And more importantly – if you answer no to that question, do you really have free choice in your own life? Are you truly in control?