Feminism and the beauty community

We can’t talk about feminism without giving a nod to our foremothers; Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Ida B. Wells, and the hundreds of other women who devoted their lives to making the world a better place for women, children and minorities. Susan B. Anthony spent her adulthood in the city where I currently reside, and her home is one of my favorite museums. It’s just a standard middle-class Victorian house, but what happened within its walls literally changed the world.

Susan B

I identify as a feminist; I know the label carries a lot of negative connotations, but I embrace it. I believe there still exists real inequality in the world for women, people of color, the LGBT community, religious minorities, etc. I acknowledge the privilege that I have, being a middle-class white woman in a heterosexual relationship in the U.S. and know that we’ve come a long way, but there’s still work to be done. The beauty community is no exception.

One day recently I was sitting in my living room accidentally watching the Stephanie Nicole video in which she talks about her perspective on the Tarte controversy, which I wasn’t really interested in hearing because let’s be honest, it’s been done to death. Her take on it is also kind of weird to me; you’re saying that it makes sense from a financial standpoint but that Tarte could have done a better job and the fact that they didn’t is ignorant? How do you take both sides of an argument like that?

Anyway, I don’t normally watch her videos but somehow this ended up in my auto-playlist. One minute I was watching Grav3yard Girl test something weird, and the next minute I’m listening to Stephanie Nicole. Normally that would be fine, even if I have to listen to another person talk about Tarte. What struck me was, within the first minute, she mentioned changing her hair and said that her subscribers could keep their “backhanded compliments”, like that it looked better than before, to themselves. Ok, I get that people can be shitty, but that seems like an extra defensive thing to say. But then she said “Especially if you have ‘feminist’ anywhere in your bio. Then you can lick the entirety of my ass.”

Huh. Ok.

So this makes me think some things. First, it makes me wonder what the hell kind of people comment on her videos. If this is something you need to say in the first 60 seconds of your video, are the trolls after you in force?

Secondly, why are you taking issue with feminists in particular? Have feminists done something to you? Do you feel personally victimized by feminists?

That might be kind of a silly question; I know that certain schools of feminist thought are vehemently opposed to things like makeup and the beauty industry in general, but it seems like they’d have better things to do than comment on beauty videos. I watch a lot of beauty YouTube and I’ve never seen comments like this from feminists, but I guess they could exist. I know that I personally have been accused of being a bad feminist for wearing makeup and advocating for others to do the same. Something about giving in to societal pressure to be ornamental, or the male gaze, or something.

What the people accusing me of this don’t seem to understand is that I wear makeup for me. I think that I look fine without it, but I enjoy wearing it and playing around with it. When I’m going into unfamiliar situations it becomes my armor. I’m chronically ill and I spend a lot of time faking it ’till I make it just to be a person in the world, and makeup helps me do that. Not that some mascara and lipstick help my illnesses, but I at least feel like I can face the world when I’m wearing it. It’s not just makeup to me.

What do you think about feminism vs. beauty? Can we co-exist? Do you identify as a feminist?

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9 Comments

  1. KimmieB
    Permalink

    Yes it should absolutely co-exist! A very large part of being a ‘feminist’ means that we want to at the very least be equals without restraint. So why put a restraint on OURSELVES by saying that it’s not okay to wear makeup if you identify as a feminist? Seems like a bit of a ________ (insert the word I’m looking for 😹) to me. It’s kind of sad to me, and unfortunate. Being a feminist should go hand in hand with female empowerment, and if makeup empowers someone, then do it! If you feel like you’re supporting women more hardcore by NOT wearing makeup, then kudos; but that should never mean that you have the right to tell someone where they stand in this movement because a certain shade of lipstick makes them feel more confident. As women, we are a group that, at the core, want the same things (for the most part) for our gender, but the cattiness can’t even go away for a second? I can’t wear makeup AND claim to be feminist without someone questioning my stance BECAUSE I wear makeup? Come on now.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Teresa
      Permalink

      Agree completely. To me, part of being a feminist is recognizing that we all have a choice about how we want to live our lives. Wear makeup? Cool. Want a career? Awesome. Want to be a stay at home mom? Go for it. We all decide for ourselves how we live our lives, so why are we trying to impose our choices on other women? That’s nonsense.

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      Reply
  2. Liz
    Permalink

    I think feminism and beauty absolutely can coexist! There are different schools of feminism where some are more extreme than others, but at the end of the day, feminism’s main goal is equality amongst all sexes… Whether you are pro- or anti-makeup, a feminist shouldn’t beat another feminist down for choosing to align a certain way… That would be like saying “I’m more feminist than you are because I do/don’t wear makeup,” which isn’t equality amongst sexes at all. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Teresa
      Permalink

      Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed reading it. It’s so awesome to know that there are other feminists in the beauty community and that we can support each other instead of tearing each other down.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      • Liz
        Permalink

        Agreed! I hate that “better than thou” mentality some people have… At the end of the day, it’s my decision to wear makeup just as much as it’s my decision to be a feminist, and I can do and be both easily.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. kathylcsw
    Permalink

    I am a feminist to the death and I love makeup. Like you I do it for ME and take offense when people suggest that I look good for a man. Being a feminist means having the opportunity to live your life as a woman as you see fit. Thanks for a great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Teresa
      Permalink

      Thank you! I agree 100%. We as feminists shouldn’t try to impose our choices on other women. The whole point of the feminist revolution was to remove those kinds of constraints on us.

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  4. Alyssa Waugh
    Permalink

    Dear fellow blogger,

    I’m a fan of your page, particularly your posts about women.

    I’d like to invite you to take a moment to read over this Kickstarter project: I AM STRENGTH: True Stories of Everyday Superwomen. When completed, two-thirds of the book’s proceeds will go to No Means No Worldwide, whose goal is to create a rape-free world, and Girls Inc., which empowers all girls to be smart, strong, and bold. It will feature diverse stories from women all over the world and celebrate intersectional feminism.

    Every person who contributes even $1 to the campaign will have their name featured in the book, for $15 they get a free e-book when it comes out, for $25 they get a free paperback copy, and for $50 they can write a line in the book dedicating it to someone—maybe their mother who is battling breast cancer like a champion, maybe their sister who is going through a divorce and summoning her emotional strength, maybe their struggling trans friend who needs to hear supportive stories like the ones in this book.

    Here’s the link to my blog post about it so you can easily reblog if interested: https://alyssawaugh.com/2018/04/04/i-am-strength-true-stories-of-everyday-superwomen/

    You can read more about it here:
    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1643666358/i-am-strength. If you find it to be a worthy cause, please consider sharing it with your followers.

    Thank you for your time. Have a great day.

    Alyssa Waugh

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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