I haven’t been around here for a few days, mostly because I’ve been buried under a pile of papers that needed to be graded. Incidentally, they were some of the best papers I have ever read, but more on that later. While I’ve been absent here, I found myself more present on other sites, specifically Pinterest and Tumblr. I find it easier to be active on those sites, because I don’t have to think so much about what I’m writing, and I can use them from my phone easier than I can WordPress. So it makes sense that I’d be active on those sites while neglecting this one.
Pinterest has truly changed my life, though. It has made me see that everything about my world – my home, my food, myself – can be prettier. It has me thinking about ways that I can put in a little effort and very little money and yield huge results. (So this is what the DIYers have been doing for years? And to think I shunned them!)
Since I don’t yet have a house (we close June 5!), those ideas are theoretical. Since I’ve pretty much mastered the art of cooking for friends and family (pun intended), I don’t look for recipes as much as I do other things. Since I do have myself and a closet full of clothes I’ve neglected for years, I’ve been focused a lot on my fashion lately. In fact, I’ve even started posting some of my own fashion ideas on Tumblr.
As this weekend is the This Is What A FACE Looks Like campaign, and we are focused on making women feel comfortable with themselves without putting in the extra work that makeup requires, I find myself wondering whether or not my new obsession with fashion is, in fact, feminist.
On one side, it is exhausting to be perfect all the time. But the message that we send young girls and adult women alike is that you have to be perfect. All the time. If you don’t pick that perfect outfit or if you dare leave the house without makeup, you’ll be called out by every major tabloid in the nation, or worse in Hillary Clinton’s case – she was called out by a major news outlet. As women, we truly are judged by our appearance, and that isn’t fair. Men aren’t judged that way, and they definitely don’t feel the pressure to strive toward aesthetic perfection that women do. And let’s not even get started on the ways women are marketed to. Ad companies and corporations play on women’s insecurities – insecurities that they have created to sell products – to make them buy all of this fashion and makeup stuff to begin with. If more women fought against the patriarchy and refused to be “pretty” all the time, the norm would, hopefully, slowly shift toward women wearing whatever made them comfortable rather than whatever made them look the best.
On the flip side, my personal belief is that, if your day isn’t worth looking your best for, then what is? When my Fearless Females did the no makeup day this year, I told them that I felt like it was a throw-away day from the beginning. When I don’t put the effort into putting my best face forward, I feel like I might as well have just stayed in bed. And this wasn’t a philosophy of life that came about due to insecurities, I think. When I was in college, my fashion sense consisted of whatever the hell I felt like putting on, and always Birkenstocks. When I started student teaching and had to learn how to dress professionally, my best friend visited and threw away all of my hippie clothes. As I went through my first years of teaching, I encountered (and still do) many, many people who believed that teaching is not a job worth dressing up for. I, however, believe that, if you want to be treated like a professional – whether you are a man or a woman – you need to dress like one. So I do. Furthermore, my fashion sense is not made up of stilettos and skirts. I’m also not spending a ton of money making myself look good. I’m just learning how to tie scarves in new ways or rolling up sleeves on blazers. Most of these items have been collecting dust in my closet forever, and I’m pulling them out after being inspired to use them. In that way, I’m not spending money trying to fill my insecurities; rather, I’m responsibly recycling old clothing.
In short, I don’t have an answer to this question. All I know is that I like feeling put together; it makes me feel confident. Whether that is because I am a product of a society that has told me this is how I must feel or not, I don’t know. I’m not the first to wrestle with this issue, and I’m sure I won’t be the last. But what I do know is that, for now, I like feeling good about myself, and clothing is a vehicle for that.
What do you think? Is fashion feminist? I’d love to hear your thoughts.