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  1. Ruviana
    Ruviana August 1, 2011 at 11:57 am |

    This is an interesting topic for me because in recent years I’ve become unable to wear make-up, not for any physical reason but because it feels so weird and wrong to me. When I have it on, however subtly, I feel like that pic of Anna Nicole Smith in clown make-up, wondering why her lawyer/boyfriend was making fun of her: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DULYGi6dnvw
    I color my hair but the make-up, not gonna happen.

  2. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin August 1, 2011 at 12:27 pm |

    I am curious to know how this contradiction and comparison works for me. I am genderqueer and daily wear clothing designed to be worn by women. I have a hard time talking about this, but for the sake of this post, the first time I put on a pair of women’s underwear, I felt comfortable. I never once questioned the rightness of it. That I think was so difficult to understand and to own. I had been taught it was wrong, but what I felt contradicted it.

    And it does also allow me to feel pretty, a description never to be applied to men. If I decided to undergo transition, I am pretty sure I would adhere to a very feminine standard, wear dresses, and also put on makeup. Passing would be of paramount importance. With time, perhaps I might branch out, but the authenticity aspect would be what I would be after more than anything.

    What if that authenticity I have been seeking has been used as a form of oppression? There are people who specifically aim to teach transgender people to credibly pass. If they are assisting transwomen, are they part of the problem, too?

    Just putting this out here.

  3. ozymandias
    ozymandias August 1, 2011 at 1:43 pm |

    High-five!

    I think it’s important, in feminist critique, to distinguish between critiquing social constructs and critiquing people. I can critique the social construction of femininity– how it associates womanhood with weakness and sexualization– while simultaneously accepting the right of every person, male and female, to be femme. Similarly, one can critique patriarchal tendencies in religion while accepting the right of a person to be religious, sexism against both genders in action movies while enjoying watching stuff get blown up, etc.

  4. Gillian Love
    Gillian Love August 1, 2011 at 1:59 pm |

    I enjoyed this post, but could you clarify what you mean by “beauty privilege”?

  5. blondegirl
    blondegirl August 1, 2011 at 2:10 pm |

    Way over-analyzing here. Makeup is not a political statement unless you *want* it to be. I have never felt rewarded for shaving my armpits, and I’ve never felt pressure to wear makeup or been punished for not wearing makeup. Is it because I’m more impervious to social norms than other women? I suspect some will say I’m just in denial, but to me that’s even sillier. I simply go with what pleases me, or what I have time for, and I don’t care what anyone thinks. Makeup is fun when I want it, and a pain in the butt when I don’t.

    I just don’t feel any conflict at all between my feminist ideals and femininity, and I really find it difficult to relate with those who do.

    1. Jill
      Jill August 1, 2011 at 2:14 pm | *

      Way over-analyzing here. Makeup is not a political statement unless you *want* it to be.

      …seriously? Make-up is politicized. When women can be fired from work for not wearing it, and men can be fired (or harassed or beaten or killed) for wearing it, no, it’s not something that’s just “fun when you want it” for everyone.

  6. Esti
    Esti August 1, 2011 at 2:37 pm |

    I just wanted to say thanks for this. I was one of the people who had reservations about the shame post from last week, but I do recognize that it is not nearly as simple as “but I like makeup!” and I think this post does a great job of framing the issues.

  7. ozymandias
    ozymandias August 1, 2011 at 2:46 pm |

    Blondegirl: I think the question is not so much “rewarded for shaving one’s armpits” as “punished for not shaving one’s armpits.” As someone who has spent the past year with hairy armpits, it’s amazing how often I’ve been told the barely-visible fuzz is gross or disgusting.

  8. Muzakbox
    Muzakbox August 1, 2011 at 2:53 pm |

    This Saturday I went to my 20 year high school reunion and I wore almost no make-up at all because I really don’t anyway. Just eyeliner, mascara, and lip stain. Whatever. I could have worn a lot more or none and I don’t think I would have felt comfortable or not comfortable.

    But I shaved my armpits too. I haven’t shaved in well over a year. I’m an actress so sometimes I do have to shave for a part. I’ve been lucky for a year in both costuming and in character and haven’t had to. I felt terrible about doing it. But I really didn’t want to have to deal with the negative comments and that reactions that come with being unshaven in this particular venue.

    And yes, I did feel guilty. Like I was a bad feminist. I couldn’t bring my all of my ideals with me and I gave in to what I thought the reaction might be. And I have to say after going I don’t think I was wrong about what the reaction would have been at all.

    I guess I don’t really know have a point except that sometimes it seems like it will be easier to just follow the conventions and get the “rewards” but it doesn’t always feel as easy as you though it would.

  9. Muzakbox
    Muzakbox August 1, 2011 at 2:53 pm |

    This Saturday I went to my 20 year high school reunion and I wore almost no make-up at all because I really don’t anyway. Just eyeliner, mascara, and lip stain. Whatever. I could have worn a lot more or none and I don’t think I would have felt comfortable or not comfortable.

    But I shaved my armpits too. I haven’t shaved in well over a year. I’m an actress so sometimes I do have to shave for a part. I’ve been lucky for a year in both costuming and in character and haven’t had to. I felt terrible about doing it. But I really didn’t want to have to deal with the negative comments and that reactions that come with being unshaven in this particular venue.

    And yes, I did feel guilty. Like I was a bad feminist. I couldn’t bring my all of my ideals with me and I gave in to what I thought the reaction might be. And I have to say after going I don’t think I was wrong about what the reaction would have been at all.

    I guess I don’t really know have a point except that sometimes it seems like it will be easier to just follow the conventions and get the “rewards” but it doesn’t always feel as easy as you though it would.

  10. Aisha
    Aisha August 1, 2011 at 3:04 pm |

    ozymandias:
    High-five!

    I think it’s important, in feminist critique, to distinguish between critiquing social constructs and critiquing people. I can critique the social construction of femininity– how it associates womanhood with weakness and sexualization– while simultaneously accepting the right of every person, male and female, to be femme. Similarly, one can critique patriarchal tendencies in religion while accepting the right of a person to be religious, sexism against both genders in action movies while enjoying watching stuff get blown up, etc.

    this is basically it. i myself shave, wear make-up and dye my hair, and yes, i discuss to what extent this is my personal choice and to what extend this might have been or is conditioned by patriarchy, as a part of the masculine imaginary or oppressive gender performance etc etc.
    Ideally, all of us, women, men, and everyone who would or would not like to be defined as either, should be free to define ourselves – for ourselves, while at the same time thinking critically about these choices. everything has its contradictions, but as long as we are open-minded to our beautiful differences, we cannot be ‘bad’ feminists if we like a bit of mascara here and there or if we loathe the thought of shaving our naturally wonderful bodies. if our common goal is a better life for all women (e.g. NOT getting fired for NOT complying to sexist standards) i dont see how we can not respect our individual choices, especially when some of us have the privilege to discuss whether or not to wear make-up (and we can afford it and choose against it) and some women in the world dont even have food on their tables, and make-up is the least of their concerns.
    cheers

  11. Mary Tracy
    Mary Tracy August 1, 2011 at 3:12 pm |

    @ Gillian Love

    The nastier side of “beauty privilege”, why it’s in fact a “privilege” and not just “luck” is because for a few women to benefit from being beautiful, an awful lot of women have to be “ugly” or “plain”. Think about the millions upon millions of women who are not white, for example, and who are automatically on the “plain” side of the game.
    It’s a hierarchical system, much like every other: for beautiful women to enjoy beauty privilege, the rest of us have to be considered “plain” and be denied the perks that come from being considered “beautiful”.

  12. james
    james August 1, 2011 at 3:36 pm |

    Brava! Yes, that’s just it. We can critique the system without judging one another.

    I don’t get the reluctance to judge. Does eating veal make you a bad vegetarian – yes. Does littering make you a bad environmentalist – yes. Does working for the DEA make you a bad libertarian – yes. There are activities which aren’t in keeping with particular political commitments, I can’t see why feminists are so reluctant to expect people to act in accordance with their beliefs.

  13. Ashley
    Ashley August 1, 2011 at 3:54 pm |

    All of us get up out of bed and make ourselves presentable for the world. Some women go through more, some less, and some in between. But each of us doing a combination of things to our appearance before we set foot out the door.

    To say that makeup is anti-feminist, then why stop at makeup and heels? Why not include brushing our hair, putting on pretty jewelry, nice clothes, shaving, painting our nails, wearing perfume?

  14. Nahida
    Nahida August 1, 2011 at 4:05 pm |

    james: I don’t get the reluctance to judge.

    I do. Judging makes me a bad feminist.

  15. Linda
    Linda August 1, 2011 at 4:10 pm |

    It might be productive to think about alternative ways of thinking or theorizing the relation of the female body to the patriarchal beauty standard. One central problem for feminists examining beauty standards from an ethical or political perspsective is that while on the one hand, we have realized that our complicity with beauty standards must address the ideological domain of representation (described as phallocentric and patriarchal) that helps produce such complicity, on the other hand, we don’t want to locate women as passive vicitims in some point of innocence outside representation; that is, that in their complicity with beauty standards, women are victims of representation, trapped in their bodies through stereotypical images. Of course, many feminists have argued that this complicity can only be cured with realitistic and non oppressive images/representations of women. But as many have countered, what do such images look like? I’ve recently become interested in the work of Claire Colebrook, who uses the work of Deleuze to argue that feminist ethhics needs to get beyond this tension at the heart of representation. One way to do so is not be appealing to a pre-discursive or normal body that might be authentically represented at some point beyond patriarchal thought, but rather sees the body as an event of expression, understood in terms of its becomings, connections, events and activities. For Colebrook, feminist ethics and politics that continues to assume women’s bodies are silent, negated and objectified by an active male reason will be precluded from becoming a form of active critique. One way to see the body beyond the problem of representation is to see images, representations and significations as well as bodies as aspects of ongoing practices of negotiation, reformation and encounter. The female body is not the innocent other of patriarchal representation, but rather an active event. In short, she argues for a positing of the body’s positivity. Rather than see wearing makeup as the sign of repression or lack, we might see it as one form of self-formation, amongst others. What does it create for us, what does it invent? How might wearing makeup effect a positive difference, or create a distance from normalized ways of being.

  16. Gillian Love
    Gillian Love August 1, 2011 at 4:10 pm |

    @ Autumn and Mary Tracy – thanks for clarifying and elaborating! Considering beauty (not ‘natural’ but ‘home-made’ beauty) as a dynamic of privilege is a really interesting analysis. It also plays into class (certain women have more money therefore more potential beauty privilege; different communities have different beauty standards) and race. Thanks for getting me thinking about beauty as a feminist issue from a slightly different perspective!

  17. Aisha
    Aisha August 1, 2011 at 4:11 pm |

    autumn, i agree with your comment to james and i would also like to add that there is not a prescribed WAY to be a feminist – there are MANY different women in this world, many different people and i firmly believe feminism is a collective action – to make lives collectively better. and because there is no feminism (as it is commonly misunderstood in the white middle class woman sense), but FEMINISMS, what we should focus on is how to improve lives – and women should be free to choose what that improvement is, based on their culture, location and choice – some might be fighting not to be killed by their husbands and brothers, and some might attempt to stray away from the new femme capitale that is being presented to us as the new form of feminism, etc.

  18. Rob
    Rob August 1, 2011 at 4:33 pm |

    “Beauty privilege” seems a way of distinguishing between attention earned through beauty work and attention that is received regardless of effort; then the question becomes whether that distinction holds, whether we can ever identify the residual “real” beauty that precedes beauty work/efforts to acknowledge existing social standards about appearance and how it signifies and so on. Seems the value of beauty work is uncontestable, even as it reinforces an existing economy that from the beginning unequally distributes beauty “resources” (in much the same way that other talents are unequally distributed within capitalism despite the pretense of meritocracy and equal opportunity). The residual, unworked-upon beauty is always a reminder of this continually reinforced injustice with respect to distribution of beauty; explicit and overt beauty work may help to mask that “natural” distribution of beauty, but can it render it irrelevant?

  19. RenKiss
    RenKiss August 1, 2011 at 4:41 pm |

    Mary Tracy:
    @ Gillian Love

    The nastier side of “beauty privilege”, why it’s in fact a “privilege” and not just “luck” is because for a few women to benefit from being beautiful, an awful lot of women have to be “ugly” or “plain”. Think about the millions upon millions of women who are not white, for example, and who are automatically on the “plain” side of the game.
    It’s a hierarchical system, much like every other: for beautiful women to enjoy beauty privilege, the rest of us have to be considered “plain” and be denied the perks that come from being considered “beautiful”.

    This was kind along the lines I was thinking. The problem with beauty standards is they’re strict thus making it impossible for many women to meet them. For me as a WOC, Eurocentric standards of beauty are the norm. Therefore, it’s basically impossible for me to meet these standards. However, I don’t think it’s necessarily the case that “plain” women are just totally left out of the hierarchical system. After all, society does, I guess reward women are at least trying to strive that impossible beauty standard. Hell, we’re expected to in order for us to be able to enjoy those “perks.”

    Also in regards to the OP, another issue with WOC (black women specifically) is the issue of us being stereotyped as being more masculine than women of other ethnic groups. For some black women, wearing make up can be viewed as a type of empowerment, because it’s a way for us to reclaim our femininity. There is in fact, a small movement going on called Black Women Empowerment (very different from womanism/black feminism) and one aspect about this ‘movement’ is advocating that black women embracing femininity. Also saying that our power comes from our femininity. I’m not saying I agree with this, but I just wanted to point this out.

    Hope I also didn’t go off topic. :-/

  20. ArielNYC
    ArielNYC August 1, 2011 at 5:15 pm |

    I think we should make an important distinction about makeup as a social obligation and makeup as a social enhanecment. As a man, it does bother me that the same job would impose more demands on women in terms of money and time than on men. And as Jill points out, gender noncomformity can be punished with intolerance and violence. I can see some ways to remedy that with greater workplace regulation, greater monetary compensationfor greater effort, hate crims laws, etc. But as far as the social realm, I don’t really know what if anything can be done. How would you mandate people not to pay more attention to women in makeup than without makeup? Or better dressed women? It feels like a zero-sum game, or an arms race. There’s only so much attention to go around. So in a way, not participating in the beauty race is a like unilateral disarmament.
    Which makes me wonder, as a feminist man, what exactly is my role in this equation, if any? Or is this an intramural debate?

  21. Azalea
    Azalea August 1, 2011 at 6:02 pm |

    RenKiss:

    Also in regards to the OP, another issue with WOC (black women specifically) is the issue of us being stereotyped as being more masculine than women of other ethnic groups.For some black women, wearing make up can be viewed as a type of empowerment, because it’s a way for us to reclaim our femininity.There is in fact, a small movement going on called Black Women Empowerment (very different from womanism/black feminism) and one aspect about this ‘movement’ is advocating that black women embracing femininity. Also saying that our power comes from our femininity.I’m not saying I agree with this, but I just wanted to point this out.

    Hope I also didn’t go off topic. :-/

    Yes! Yes! Yes! I have said this before but it can not be repeated enough.

  22. Vickster
    Vickster August 1, 2011 at 6:19 pm |

    I’m a longtime feminist and I wax my brows, underarms, and legs. I’m not sure how to reconcile the above two facts other than to say that all human beings live with internal contradictions.

    I also wear make-up, but I don’t feel there’s anything anti-feminist about it. I do it because I love color, and I love playing with a different color palette every day when putting on eye make-up and lip gloss. The same feelings go for accessorizing with jewelry, belts, headbands, etc.

    Don’t get me wrong–I know plenty of women for whom make-up is a necessary duty of womanhood, but for me, it’s a form of self-expression. I think it’s human nature to want to adorn oneself–we see it in every culture. As soon as a society or individual need not focus on food, shelter and personal safety, the decorations begin–on oneself, in one’s living space, etc.

    Perhaps the issue isn’t just that American women are burdened with unending expectations for beautification, but that American men don’t have enough ways to express themselves *physically* as individuals? I actually feel sorry that they are so limited in the color palette they can dress in and the ways they can draw distinction to themselves through their attire. Other than a tie, cuff links, and maybe well-designed shoes, there aren’t many ways for men to dress up and look distinct from other men.

    This isn’t all to say that sexism doesn’t impose a harsh double-standard that is suffocating to women and lax on men. I’m agreeing to that and adding that our culture tries to draw a bright line between the feminine and the masculine by restricting male fashion. Men who enjoy too much grooming or who dress outside the norm are mocked for being metrosexuals…because at the end of the day, there’s nothing worse than being like a woman, of course.

  23. ozymandias
    ozymandias August 1, 2011 at 6:51 pm |

    Ariel: It depends on what you mean by “attention,” I guess. As a female-bodied person who does not perform femininity at all, I’ve had no problem getting partners. My problem is with people who feel it is necessary to insult me or give me advice about how I “should” perform femininity for various unspecified reasons. For instance, when my then-boyfriend said he liked me better without makeup, my mother said I should wear it around him more often to get him used to it. o.0

    It’s possible to eliminate that sort of appearance policing and still have people wearing makeup.

  24. arielNYC
    arielNYC August 1, 2011 at 7:12 pm |

    @ozymandias

    I think men really don’t have any real appreciation for how much women are policed on a daily basis. Thank you for sharing thiis. What I meant by attention is that performing femininity gets a woman more interest from men (not to say it’s all positive and wholesome interest). What I am wondering is, as a man, what if I compliment a woman for wearing makeup? Or a fancy hair? It’s definitely not something I expect, but something I appreciate. And yes, I may also encourage it by saying how much I like it. Does that make me a policing agent?

  25. chingona
    chingona August 1, 2011 at 7:30 pm |

    I really liked this post. I get really frustrated at the idea that all these things we do are just “my choice” or “for fun.” Like I just woke up one day at the age of 12 and decided I’d like things better without all that pesky leg and underarm hair. All on my own. And it’s sheer coincidence that that thought has never occurred to my husband. We’re human beings, we have culture(s), and our culture is gendered and patriarchal. I don’t find shaving once a week to be close to the most onerous thing society asks of me as a woman, and hey, I even feel prettier/sexier with smooth legs … because I’ve associated smooth legs with femininity and sexiness for as long as I’ve had a sense of those things. We’re all grownups here, and we should be able to acknowledge that and discuss it. And it’s not so much the particular thing. A hundred years ago, “decent” women in the West didn’t wear make-up or pierce their ears. We certainly wouldn’t argue that that culture was less patriarchal than ours. But it’s absurd to act as if social norms that require women to spend significantly more time and money on their appearance, to frequently wear clothing that is less comfortable and practical, to forego activities that we would otherwise enjoy because of concerns about our appearance (when we get a last minute invitation to go swimming somewhere, my husband grabs his suit and I grab a razor) have nothing to do with patriarchy and that feminism shouldn’t have something to say about it.

  26. sadiejane
    sadiejane August 1, 2011 at 8:23 pm |

    chingona:
    I really liked this post. I get really frustrated at the idea that all these things we do are just “my choice” or “for fun.” Like I just woke up one day at the age of 12 and decided I’d like things better without all that pesky leg and underarm hair. All on my own. And it’s sheer coincidence that that thought has never occurred to my husband. We’re human beings, we have culture(s), and our culture is gendered and patriarchal. I don’t find shaving once a week to be close to the most onerous thing society asks of me as a woman, and hey, I even feel prettier/sexier with smooth legs … because I’ve associated smooth legs with femininity and sexiness for as long as I’ve had a sense of those things. We’re all grownups here, and we should be able to acknowledge that and discuss it. And it’s not so much the particular thing. A hundred years ago, “decent” women in the West didn’t wear make-up or pierce their ears. We certainly wouldn’t argue that that culture was less patriarchal than ours. But it’s absurd to act as if social norms that require women to spend significantly more time and money on their appearance, to frequently wear clothing that is less comfortable and practical, to forego activities that we would otherwise enjoy because of concerns about our appearance (when we get a last minute invitation to go swimming somewhere, my husband grabs his suit and I grab a razor) have nothing to do with patriarchy and that feminism shouldn’t have something to say about it.

    Yes!! I could not agree more with your comments. We do not grow up in a vacuum, so when I hear people say “Well, the idea of fuzzy legs/arms/etc. is just not appealing to me, so it’s my CHOICE to shave”, I can’t help question why they think it isn’t appealing and how much of this choice is actually theirs. As a 21 year old, I have foregone the makeup, but still begrudgingly shave my legs and armpits when necessary, only due to my fear of what I would get if I didn’t — especially at my workplace. I’m still trying to figure it all out!

  27. CassandraSays
    CassandraSays August 1, 2011 at 8:49 pm |

    About this…

    “But neither do I believe that neglecting to seriously, critically examine our engagement with the beauty privilege certain acts give us is the mark of a responsible feminist. If you’re a 21st-century feminist in western society, your beauty labor means something. We can’t blithely claim that cosmetics use is merely our choice, or that if it makes us feel good then it’s just fine. ”

    Question – what exactly is the goal here? And why are we assuming that other feminists have not already asked themselves those questions?

    Look, obviously there’s no way to separate out beauty practises from the society that spawned them. No matter how much of what we do in terms of self-beautification is done for personal pleasure or self-expression, as intelligent people we also recognise that society is going to reward us for making ourselves more conventionally attractive. So what’s the end goal here? Is the examination it’s own end (and if so, why? and again, why are we assuming that it hasn’t already happened?). Or is the assumption that if we examine enough we’ll eventually stop (wearing makeup/shaving/whatever)?

    The main reasons that I’m so tired of this conversation happening in feminist spaces are that it’s rude and insulting to assume that women who choose to follow beauty practises haven’t thought about what it means that they do so, and that it’s not at all clear to me what the constant self-examination is supposed to accomplish.

  28. chingona
    chingona August 1, 2011 at 9:23 pm |

    CassandraSays: So what’s the end goal here? Is the examination it’s own end (and if so, why? and again, why are we assuming that it hasn’t already happened?). Or is the assumption that if we examine enough we’ll eventually stop (wearing makeup/shaving/whatever)?

    A lot of these things are significantly less compulsory than they used to be, and that’s a result, at least in part, of having these conversations and pushing back against traditional/mandatory gender roles. I consider that a good thing.

  29. Athenia
    Athenia August 1, 2011 at 9:26 pm |

    For some people, make-up or shaving isn’t simply a “fun thing others do”–it’s OMG WHY AREN’T YOU NORMAL?!?! I DEMAND YOU APPEAR NORMAL FOR ME AND NOT YOU.

    This is what makes it a bit different than say your preference for rocking climbing.

  30. Athenia
    Athenia August 1, 2011 at 9:27 pm |

    Sorry—I forgot to add—so for me, the problem isn’t what *I* do, it’s what *they* do and think that’s the problem.

  31. chingona
    chingona August 1, 2011 at 9:31 pm |

    arielNYC: What I am wondering is, as a man, what if I compliment a woman for wearing makeup? Or a fancy hair? It’s definitely not something I expect, but something I appreciate. And yes, I may also encourage it by saying how much I like it. Does that make me a policing agent?

    For me, the distinction would be between saying “Wow, you look great” when someone has made a special effort in their appearance, and saying, “Wow, you look so much nicer when you wear make-up.”

    And I really have to object to your framing in your first comment as unilateral disarmament in an arms race. What’s the competition? To be the prettiest girl in the room? To get a man?

  32. Azalea
    Azalea August 1, 2011 at 11:01 pm |

    chingona:
    I really liked this post. I get really frustrated at the idea that all these things we do are just “my choice” or “for fun.” Like I just woke up one day at the age of 12 and decided I’d like things better without all that pesky leg and underarm hair. All on my own.

    For most people, you are hairless everywhere except your head lashes and brows until puberty. So at 12 you’ve lived most of your life without hair in certain places and all of sudden its there. Not every person’s decision is made in a bubble but some things are necessarily done as a matter of following societal “norms.” I like my legs being smooth and for me smooth = hairless.

  33. ozymandias
    ozymandias August 1, 2011 at 11:01 pm |

    I think it’s fine to compliment someone* on their makeup or clothes, because it’s something that they’ve put time, skill and thought into, which may matter to them very much. What’s not okay is to assume that everyone of a particular genital arrangement has to put that time, skill and thought in, or they’re somehow lesser.

    *Men too! “Men should be allowed to wear makeup” is one of my cranky feminist pet issues. :)

  34. ArielNYC
    ArielNYC August 1, 2011 at 11:08 pm |

    @chingona

    “For me, the distinction would be between saying “Wow, you look great” when someone has made a special effort in their appearance, and saying, “Wow, you look so much nicer when you wear make-up.””

    I think delving into this can get a bit tricky. Am I saying that the girl doesn’t look great when she doesn’t have makeup on? My impression is that if I treat a woman differently when she puts more effort into her appearance, then I’m still enforcing a certain social norm. And if I find beauty performance pleasing, I would hope for as much of it as possible. Who doen’t like to be pleased?
    But I try to be fair about it and invest comparable effort in my self.

    “And I really have to object to your framing in your first comment as unilateral disarmament in an arms race. What’s the competition? To be the prettiest girl in the room? To get a man?”

    I don’t think it’s controversial to say that there’s romantic competition in this world. Hey, I’ve had my share of crushes, like everybody else. You win some, you lose some. I think we all want to be as attractive as possible to the people we want, whatever attractive may mean to any particular person. And when someone I like has other options, I can’t help but feel a bit competitive. But you may have a difference experience.
    I know this is a bit of a derail into lookism, but I wonder if you can really separate this discussion from the overall social dynamic.

  35. Maia
    Maia August 1, 2011 at 11:20 pm |

    Thanks for this post – I think the concept of beauty work is a really important one. It’s really useful way of looking at something that often gets fraught.

    But some things are simply grooming–I don’t expect anyone to not groom their hair because it makes them look better. It makes them look…groomed! It can fall under “hygiene” instead of “beauty,” and there’s no definitive line either. I think we each know that line when we see it.

    I do disagree with this quite strongly. There is nothing hygenic or unhygenic about brushed or unbrushed hair. I think the line between beauty work and ‘grooming’ and ‘beauty work’ is a lot less clear than you imply. Our ideas of what is ‘clean’ or ‘groomed’ are often framed as being about hygiene and well-being, when they’re really not. And as someone for whom brushing my hair is sometimes beauty work that is beyond me – the same dynamic applies as you describe with other forms of beauty work.

    It also plays into class (certain women have more money therefore more potential beauty privilege; different communities have different beauty standards) and race.

    I think there’s another class dynamic at play. I’m dyspraxic and I can’t do a lot of beauty work (I can’t put on make-up, I can’t wear any accessories including jewelry, I have real limits with what I do with my hair, and my priority for shoes has to be not falling over – with an added bonus if I don’t have to deal with laces all day). I’m sure I pay a financial price for that in the workforce. But I have access to middle class paid work that don’t require that beauty work. If I didn’t, I would be looking at a bigger financial penalty, and less options for jobs that didn’t require beauty work.

    I find the concept of survival strategies a really useful way of looking at this. We all have to survive in a sexist and misogynist world, and we have different resources for doing this (in terms of money, priviledge, time, ability and so on). My survival strategy is to do very little beauty work. However, if I can imagine someone facing the same disability issues as me who has fewer work options having to pour all their resources into beauty work, in order to earn enough money to survive. I think it’s important to take as a starting point that people are competent with their own survival strategies and are doing things the way they are for a reason. The goal should not be to change people’s survival strategies as individuals, but to change the world so those survival strategies aren’t necessary.

    CassandraSays – I agree and disagree. There are two common points of this discussion that I find frustrating one is and the other is that what matters that you are aware and think about it. The reason the first one frustrates me has been pretty well covered. But I also think the exhortation to self-examination is just as problematic. For the reasons you out-lined, it doesn’t necessarily achieve anything, and it is insulting – I think people generally know what they’re doing with their life and their survival strategies and are the best people to make decisions about their own lives, not me.

    For me the key is that both the approaches I found frustrating are individualistic. We don’t change the system that rewards beauty work by changing the way we interact with it as individuals.
    I think our goal should be to understand and change society collectively, rather than to have an awareness of our individual role. However, I think most of this post is a structural analysis, and structural analysis is useful – as long as it doesn’t return to individual solutions.

  36. CassandraSays
    CassandraSays August 1, 2011 at 11:52 pm |

    “We don’t change the system that rewards beauty work by changing the way we interact with it as individuals.”

    This is a key point, and part of my frustration. I think there’s a fundamental misunderstanding that happens in this conversation where people think that their individual decisions not to do (whatever) are going to somehow undermine patriarchy. I don’t think that’s how it works. This is a macro issue, not a micro one.

    There’s also the fact that as you alluded to, the penalties for not conforming are higher for some than for others, and that usually seems to be left out of the conversation. There are some jobs that are only avaliable to women who’re willing to go along with beauty standards. I don’t just mean the obvious ones like “model” either – try getting a bartending or waitressing job if you refuse to comply with beauty standards. So there seems to be an underlying assumption here that all women could refuse to comply with beauty standards if they wanted to and this would change the world, and both parts of that assumption are questionable and ignore a lot of factors that play into people’s real world decisions.

    Basically the whole exercise feels like pointless navel-gazing to me, if we’re not tying it in to any real-world goals. Examining for the sake of examining can be benificial to oneself, but it doesn’t do anything much to change society.

  37. Nat
    Nat August 2, 2011 at 12:07 am |

    blondegirl:
    I have never felt rewarded for shaving my armpits, and I’ve never felt pressure to wear makeup or been punished for not wearing makeup.

    Have you ever walked around wearing a tank top with hairy pits? And raised your arm on the bus or subway to hold on and gotten stared at? I’m guessing you haven’t, because if you had, you would have felt pungent beauty privilege after going back to shaved underarms.

  38. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. August 2, 2011 at 12:14 am |

    Maia: For me the key is that both the approaches I found frustrating are individualistic. We don’t change the system that rewards beauty work by changing the way we interact with it as individuals.

    I disagree. As women are taking on more powerful roles, we can choose to perpetuate these norms or undermine them. But we have to be mindful of what those norms are and they are often invisible.

  39. Maia
    Maia August 2, 2011 at 12:45 am |

    Chigona – I think the role of compliments and positive reinforcement in policing behaviour is a really interesting one. I think ArielNYC has almost persuaded me to stop giving any form of appearance based compliments to people I don’t know really well. Because there’s always that underlying question “What are you saying she looked like before?” (to quote from Will from Huge in my favourite scene in all of television – also super pertinent to this discussion http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vd-MDO2lvtY&feature=related). Because while I think there can be all sorts of things that you communicate through compliments, I think the danger of policing is usually there. So it makes me want to stay away.

    Cassandrasays – I guess part of what I think the role of on-line feminist discussion (or my role anyway) is to act as an advocate for that very point. I think individualism as an ideology has a huge sway, and I think it’s really damaging to actually fighting for liberation. So I guess I see the main point of having these conversations as making that point that this is structural rather than individual – and then finding ways to fight it – or at least offer solidarity to those at the pointy end of it all (people fired from their jobs for not performing femininity accurately, for example).

    Kristen – What do you mean by ‘as women are taking on more powerful roles’? Are you suggesting that women in powerful positions That’s not my experience at all. In general women in any kind of powerful role have to take on a more specific (but just as demanding) form of beauty work in order to get and keep those roles. I know the idea that women in powerful roles will change things is an idea that has more currency in the US (where women have held fewer positions of power) than NZ (where women have held most positions of power, although obviously are still under-represented). But in New Zealand what has happened is that when women take positions of power they are required to serve the institutions they have power in. Women bosses are just as likely to require their female employees to wear make-up as men are. Powerful roles constrain you and make requirements of you, and they’re not a place I’m particularly confident of change coming from.

    I’m prepared to back up a pretty bald assertion with all sorts of historical evidence (and Carol Hanish) if that’s a conversation you’re interested in having. But what this conversation reminds me is – that’s a pretty fundamental political disagreement, and you’re one of hte people I agree more with than most on feministe threads. One of the things that I find frustrating about blog discussions is that often we talk about where we disagree on quite specific narrow things – without ever addressing the fundamental political worldviews that are informing our views of different things (for example, I find the threads on sex-work really frustrating without knowing what people think of work or the state). And a fundamental conversation that gets touched on but never resolved so comes out in all sorts of weird places (I think) is how we think change is made. And feminists who don’t agree about how change is made are not going to agree about how to change the way women are rewarded for carrying out beauty work.

  40. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. August 2, 2011 at 12:57 am |

    Maia,

    Let me more specific then. As a woman in a position of power, I strive to root out these notions in my own department. So yeah, for me, I think these conversations are useful because they remind me to be mindful of how the kyriarchy warps my own perceptions. I think if more women in positions of power (and I’ve worked for a good number of them) would take that same approach we’d get a lot further. In particular, I’m not sure there is an “institutional” solution to beauty norms or if there is one I haven’t heard it yet.

  41. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. August 2, 2011 at 1:11 am |

    Sleep depravation makes me incoherent. Let’s all pretend that the above made some sort of sense.

  42. Maia
    Maia August 2, 2011 at 1:23 am |

    Kristen – I can see that as a personal goal – a way of feeling comfortable with your role in society, I can’t see it as anything more than that, and certainly not a way of creating fundamental change. As a model it requires those who don’t have power relying on those who do have power – it leaves no way in for who are shut out of various institutions of power, or are at the bottom of them, to change anything. There’s a political difference between “talk to the people around me who are in the same position as me and work together, because we’re stronger together than we are alone” and “use the power I’ve got in society to create change as an individual.”

    You said: “In particular, I’m not sure there is an “institutional” solution to beauty norms or if there is one I haven’t heard it yet.” On the one hand obviously there isn’t a solution to the requirement of beauty work, because it’s still here (I’m not sure why you put ‘institutional’ in quotes – I don’t think change necessarily lies in institutions I do think it lies in structural analysis and collective action). But on the other hand it’s not like feminists have never successfully challenged social norms about women’s dress, so there are starting places for figuring out where to create change. I think the union movement is a really good place to push back against compulsory beauty work for female workers (which is the pointy end of the stick for a lot of people), for example.

    [I've just seen your comment about sleep deprivation - I'm posting my response anyway - but I understand I may have misunderstood what you were saying - so take this as more thoughts on a theme than a direct response if what I've responded to wasn't what you meant]

  43. Ashley
    Ashley August 2, 2011 at 7:22 am |

    For me, the problem lies with framing this question as an individual issue. Sure, we have a very limited ability to resist patriarchal beauty standards in the context of our own lives, but really? How much do women as a class gain when one individual woman gives up whatever personal comfort she gets by adhering to beauty standards? Sure, if you have a lot of privilege to begin with and you aren’t going to end up without food or healthcare for doing so, taking one for the team in that way is a good thing to do, but we have MUCH more power to make thing better, for ourselves and everyone else, if we band together and change social structures and institutions, using good old fashioned direct action organizing. There’s no reason media couldn’t be regulated by the government to stop putting such pressure on women.

  44. Ashley
    Ashley August 2, 2011 at 7:45 am |

    In particular, I’m not sure there is an “institutional” solution to beauty norms or if there is one I haven’t heard it yet.

    1) Regulate mass media, particularly advertisements.
    2) Create government funding for more diverse portrayals of women.
    3) Make your church introduce the kids in Sunday school to a feminist view of beauty standards.
    4) Make it illegal to fire or otherwise professionally discriminate against women who don’t comply with beauty rules.
    5) Develop educational programs aimed at challenging patriarchal beauty standards, and make colleges implement them during orientation.
    6) Get a group together locally to challenge businesses in your area that play on the beauty imperative.
    7) Get parents together to insist that your local preschool stops using children’s books and movies that teach compulsory beauty for girls.
    8) Get yourself and a bunch of other feminists on the school board, and hire a women’s studies teacher for your local high school.

    That’s just off the top of my head.

  45. igglanova
    igglanova August 2, 2011 at 7:51 am |

    Ashley:
    How much do women as a class gain when one individual woman gives up whatever personal comfort she gets by adhering to beauty standards?

    If fewer women choose to wear makeup (and yes, it is ultimately a choice, even though it can be highly coerced via threats of firing etc.), then that makes a small difference in the collective perception of women. As it stands, makeup is so common that wearing it is the norm – those who do without are deviant and we catch a lot of crap from the public for doing so. It’s not just that makeup is a way to get closer to the beauty ideal; women fall into the category of ugly if we don’t wear it. If more women make the decision to wear less makeup, or to eschew it altogether, we can hopefully move the culture’s perception of ‘normal’ women to something that is more realistic, and more free.

    This is not to endorse singling out makeup-wearers or blaming them for their own oppression; that would honestly be obnoxious. But really, there are all sorts of ways that we’re at least complicit in our own oppression and it doesn’t do harm to admit it. There are fewer women who are really, truly forced to wear makeup than a lot of people like to tell themselves.

  46. saurus
    saurus August 2, 2011 at 7:57 am |

    I feel sort of iffy about this (and by “this” I’m not even sure what I mean – the OP? the comments? the loose ideas?) and I’m having trouble articulating how, but I’ll give it a shot. These thoughts are disjointed and don’t really form a cohesive “thesis”, so…yeah. +1 to the people who discussed micro/macro, +1 to the people who pointed out that we don’t all start with beauty privilege…

    - I feel like these discussions are often too…small? to include stuff like: how beauty privilege is complicated and queered if you’re trans or genderqueer, if you’re a woman of color, if you’re a disabled woman, if you’re poor, if you’re not white/Western…I think a lot of the usual ideas we have, like “wearing makeup isn’t necessarily bad but it can perpetuate beauty ideals” or “we should investigate what it means when we wear makeup / shave whatever” just fall apart or combust if we look outside the usual demographic.

    - For example, what happens if we try to apply some of the things we’re saying here to the “black women’s hair” issue? Or to trans people who want/need to pass as their self-identified gender? Or people who have always been butch because they didn’t feel like they had the right body or look to be femme, but they really want to play with and perform femme? What about the distrust of “lipstick lesbians” in queer communities, or the disdain and devaluation of femme in some radical communities? Or the silence regarding the beauty work that some butches do – for example, a nattily-dressed butch in suit and bowtie?

    Like, am I going to privately think it would be “ideal” for a physically disabled teenage girl who feels like dressing up in makeup to not wear it as a feminist stand? Or that black women should have a good long think about wearing weaves because I, a non-black person, think it might be “complicit” in the racism against them? That’s fucked. But I feel like we’re an inch away from saying – yes, what you’re doing is a bit harmful, no, we aren’t going to slap you on the wrist for it because we sense in our gut that we’ll get in trouble for that. And it just feels…paternalizing? Chiding? Presumptuous? Something not good – to me.

    - The people around me – many of whom do not identify as feminist, because of issues with racism and other isms in feminism – are writers and readers and artists and social workers and world-changers and dreamers and I just can’t imagine them pausing in their work to reflect on whether or not their eyeliner is the best feminist choice or not. I’m not saying it’s because eyeliner is unimportant; rather I think it’s downright irrelevant unless they have feelings about their personal use of it. And many if not all of them have been raised with the entire society telling them day in and day out that they’re ugly, that their bodies signify all kinds of awful things – because they’re an amputee or they’re scarred or they have dark skin or they’re fat or they’re trans or all of the above – and every day I see them struggling with, resisting, succumbing to or triumphing over that body-hating shit that doesn’t just say “your eyebrows look funny” but also “you’re a monster” and “you should have never been born” – I just think, we’re looking at the potential harm they could do by…mascara? Leg shaving? We’re nervously saying, “oh gosh, of course it’s fine, but we just want to make sure you’re really analyzed this through”?

    There’s just something that makes me feel a bit dirty to ask people to analyze their choices so that they can make the world look like a better place. I think there’s so much distance between the micro level of not wearing makeup, and the macro level of ending patriarchy, in this case, that the whole thing becomes more symbolic and ideological and “technical” to fit my life and the people in it – and to see the “lipstick: yes/no” discussion being initiated over and over has become a smoke signal to me that I’m dealing with an “ideas and issues” framework, instead of a “people and feelings” framework. And I’m into the latter.

    It reminds me of the Beyonce post here at Feministe, actually. Recently I was hanging with some incredible radical women of color activists and we danced to “Run This World” and in the back of my mind I knew there’d be some white feminist wringing her hands and thinking “Oh, but the lyrics suggest—”

  47. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. August 2, 2011 at 8:32 am |

    Sleep good! So with a (relatively) good brain let me try that again.

    @Maia,

    I mostly agree, I just don’t think that women in positions of power have no responsibility or that these conversations are *useless*. I may not do much, but my department is changing minds and changing perceptions about gender, ability, etc and most of that is thanks to posts that explore kyriarchial norms and commentors who have pushed me to look deeper. I think change can happen there, although I agree that change cannot *just* happen there and we cannot look solely to the powerful (generally) to empower others.

    @Ashley,

    I’m not sure that works, frankly. Regulating mass media in the US is out unless we want to repeal the First Amendment. But more to the point I’m not sure I trust *anyone* to define beauty including your average feminist. Feminism in the US has a piss poor record of reifying white privilege at nearly every opportunity.

    So maybe this is the conflict. I see beauty norms as an expression of idolizing the powerful. When it was a signal of power to eat being fat was hot. Now, in the US, power is whiteness and wealth (among other things), so our beauty norms revolve around whiteness and wealth. At the end of the day, I think people are going to label the powerful as beautiful until we end power inequities. Meanwhile, I don’t see a doable government or collective action that will fix this quirk in human nature.

  48. chingona
    chingona August 2, 2011 at 8:38 am |

    Ashley: How much do women as a class gain when one individual woman gives up whatever personal comfort she gets by adhering to beauty standards?

    Several years ago, I moved to a new city in a different part of the country, one where there are quite a large number of aging hippies, women who wear their gray hair long and wear no make-up on their faces, which show the effects of lots of time spent hiking and camping and demonstrating back before sunscreen was much of a thing. I felt extremely grateful to live around these women as I left my 20s, just for the opportunity to see women in their 50s and 60s just existing in their 50- and 60-year-old faces and bodies, just to see that the world doesn’t come crashing down because a 60-year-old woman looks 60.

    I guess for me, it’s not that I want women to give up the personal comfort they get from conformance as I want to live in a world where it is more comfortable to not conform. As a feminist, I’m a lot more concerned about things like women getting fired for not wearing make-up than I am about other women’s choices. That said, it has made a difference for me in my life to see other women eschewing some of that beauty work. Both/and …

  49. glitterary
    glitterary August 2, 2011 at 8:46 am |

    When it comes to make-up and shaving, it’s the one area where I as a feminist feel I just have to shrug and say “Yeah, I let that one slide.” I enjoy putting on make-up, and it makes me feel good about myself, and I like the feeling of smooth legs, but I’m not kidding myself that the standards I enjoy aren’t those enforced by a patriarchal society. I’ve internalised them, and fighting them feels too much like denying myself something I enjoy, and curtailing my own desires about how I want my body to be.

    Make-up and shaving are superficial. Anyone can wear lipstick or depilate. What I can (and do) do is make an effort to think outside the box for things that aren’t so easy to change; different body shapes, skin tones and characteristics that are frequently dismissed as not-beautiful by the mass media.

    I’m privileged in that I’m young and white and thin and cisgender, so the beauty industry has taken less of a toll on me than I’m sure it does to people not who don’t fit in those particular boxes.

    I’m ashamed to say that it has taken me some work to recognise the beauty in others when it has not been the beauty that is presented to me by magazines and TV. To me, this is more important than the issue of make-up. Some types of body or skin are conspicuously absent from our representations of beauty, and I think that make-up could potentially have a role in pulling those types into the mainstream conception of beauty.

    I remember nearly a decade ago a beauty brand–I think it was Lancome–brought out a range of very bright, almost neon eyeshadows and lip colours. They would never have suited me, but seeing them on the black models in the advert alerted me to a type of beauty I hadn’t considered. It’s not that I never thought individual black women were attractive, just that I had internalised that on a social level “beauty” meant “white, skinny, big boobs, blonde”.

    Make-up is for highlighting your best features, regardless of what they are, so although it is still problematic on some levels, it has the power to widen our understanding of what is beautiful.

  50. Ashley
    Ashley August 2, 2011 at 8:49 am |

    Kristen– Regulating the mass media is totally doable without changing the first amendment. The constitution is something that is interpreted and reinterpreted. One could interpret it to mean that burning crosses on someone’s lawn was “speech,” or that corporations should have the same right to speech as individuals. Or you could interpret it in a liberatory way, which is what I would choose to do. Most of Europe is far more free, speechwise and otherwise, than America is, and they don’t have a first amendment.

    I’m not sure I trust *anyone* to define beauty including your average feminist. Feminism in the US has a piss poor record of reifying white privilege at nearly every opportunity.

    Feminism has flaws, as does every liberation movement. But if you don’t think feminists should do anything, you really just think of feminism as an intellectual exercise, and I couldn’t disagree more.

    Also, I don’t believe in “human nature.” Human behavior changes all the time, in massive ways. I think the whole concept that we have an essential “nature” is almost always a way to convince us that a better world is not possible.

  51. chingona
    chingona August 2, 2011 at 8:54 am |

    ArielNYC: I don’t think it’s controversial to say that there’s romantic competition in this world. Hey, I’ve had my share of crushes, like everybody else. You win some, you lose some. I think we all want to be as attractive as possible to the people we want, whatever attractive may mean to any particular person. And when someone I like has other options, I can’t help but feel a bit competitive. But you may have a difference experience.

    This is the last thing I’ll say here, because I agree it’s potentially off-topic. My experience has been that attraction is a complex, unpredictable and individual kind of thing and that looks are only part of it. I look around me, and I see a lot of people of all ranges of attractiveness and at various levels of adherence to beauty rituals who end up partnered. I happen to think that I’m decent-looking, but I don’t think I’ve ever ended up in a relationship by being the hottest girl in the room. There are people I’ve been attracted to who ended up with other people, but I tend to think they were ultimately more compatible with that person than we would have been together. So I find the idea of getting a partner as some sort of war or battle pretty off-putting.

  52. chingona
    chingona August 2, 2011 at 9:00 am |

    So … a question … if we think that individual choices are totally irrelevant, what is the mechanism by which these things change? Cause right now, I’m starting my day at work, and I’m wearing pants, open-toed shoes, no hose, and no make-up. Fifty years ago, that would have been inconceivable. How did that change occur?

  53. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. August 2, 2011 at 9:05 am |

    @Ashley,

    If you think its likely that SCOTUS would accept comprehensive media regulation, I invite you to read some of more recent literature on the first amendment. The Court is getting more and more hostile to any restrictions on speech. I doubt you’d find consensus support among feminists for such a drastic alteration in our understanding of free speech. (If governments can decide who is and is not permitted to be shown in media, can you imagine the ways that could backfire?)

    Second, I didn’t say feminism was simply an intellectual exercise, but in the US when one racism is at the heart of the oppression (like I think it is for beauty) I don’t trust this movement. Plain and simple. Its track record sucks.

  54. Shoshie
    Shoshie August 2, 2011 at 10:48 am |

    saurus: I feel like these discussions are often too…small? to include stuff like: how beauty privilege is complicated and queered if you’re trans or genderqueer, if you’re a woman of color, if you’re a disabled woman, if you’re poor, if you’re not white/Western…I think a lot of the usual ideas we have, like “wearing makeup isn’t necessarily bad but it can perpetuate beauty ideals” or “we should investigate what it means when we wear makeup / shave whatever” just fall apart or combust if we look outside the usual demographic.

    This. Thisthisthis.

    A while ago, on Feministing, there was a post about the Adipositivity Project, with the requisite hand-wringing about how it was just sexualizing women, same old thing. It was hard for people to grasp why sexualized pictures of fat women was revolutionary or what it might mean to fat women who’s bodies are constantly desexualized.

  55. Becky
    Becky August 2, 2011 at 10:56 am |

    Kristen J.: Regulating mass media in the US is out unless we want to repeal the First Amendment.

    The US is of course not the whole world. Lots of countries have fairly strict regulations around advertising, and there’s no reason those couldn’t be extended to the advertising of beauty products. In the UK it seems they already are – two ads were pulled recently because the heavy airbrushing was considered misleading advertising. Even in the US there is some regulation around advertising – I’m thinking specifically of prescription drugs here – so I’m not convinced it would come down to repealing the first amendment.

  56. nakedthoughts
    nakedthoughts August 2, 2011 at 11:10 am |

    I think it is important to note that “choosing” to wear make-up “for me” is a HUGE privilege. When I wear make-up it is a direct result of capitulation to patriarchy. I wear it on job interviews because my lively hood could depend on it, and I don’t want to be passed over because of subconscious biases of an interviewer. (also why I recently went a shade lighter on my blonde hair, as research shows blondes get preferential treatment…ugh)

    I also wear it when I get depressed and start seeking more acceptance. for those of you who view the beauty regime as a fun thing for yourself and not political, try choosing not to for a while. it isn’t easy. I took it one step at a time. stop makeup, then later stop shaving my legs, then later stop shaving my pits. I don’t think I could have handled the social consequences all at once.

  57. Natalia
    Natalia August 2, 2011 at 11:20 am |

    Egyptians didn’t wear kohl eyeliner to appease The Man, after all.

    Hmmm…

    They didn’t have Lancome make-up counters in Ancient Egypt, but they certainly had their own social norms and hierarchies. Different Egyptians either benefited from such norms – or were disadvantaged by them. I think you can definitely say that they were pleasing the Man – just a different kind of Man, really.

    I guess that’s the issue for me at the heart of this post. Physical appearance is always policed – and people have always modified their appearances to reflect, well, something. Women just get stuck doing more of it, because we’re *usually* deemed decorative. But guys that wore high heels in the time of Louis XIV were certainly in on the game as well. Hell, guys today are on the game as well – just a different kind of game for this time period. As Jill pointed out, at present, a dude can get beaten up for wearing make-up (unless he’s Ewan McGregor, presumably) – and that also means a lot.

    Feminine compliance to 21st century beauty norms in the United States is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this issue. And there are more things in heaven and earth than the patriarchy in its current manifestation. Because the mere act of painting one’s face, for any woman, is multi-faceted, I would argue. So much goes into it – from your class background to your psychological state. I don’t think there’s even *one* true reason why someone modifies their appearance in this way – I think that parsing it out is just skimming the surface.

    I’ve said this before – I personally really dislike it when people see my “true” face. It feels like a violation of privacy – the way I look without make-up is reserved for people I am close to. Similarly, make-up helps me blend in. If, in our culture, the standard “disguise” for women involved, say, painting lines on our cheeks and foreheads – I’d probably do that too. It’s an act of sending a signal to others – “Hey, I’m with it. I fit. I’m wearing a mask. Now don’t get up in my business. In fact, you should be nice to me – if you happen to enjoy looking at me, that is.”

    Obviously, sending this signal still ties in to virtually everything you’ve said in this post. Performing beauty is work – and why we do this work is fascinating, and curious, and exciting, and also more than a little sad (or even frightening). I’ve asked myself similar questions you’ve raised in this post – and I’ve realized that I don’t just like being pretty for the boys, i.e. delineating my high status as a potential lay (so that others can be jealous of my husband? Maybe?), I’m also a bit of a mistrustful misanthrope, and I play a role when going out in public – the nice, pretty girl role – and beauty rituals help me perform this role.

    The more I talk to people about it – the more I realize that I’m not alone in this. People style themselves, at least in part, because of how they relate to society at large.

    Looks can be a shield. Beauty privilege itself is a kind of shield.

    The nastier side of “beauty privilege”, why it’s in fact a “privilege” and not just “luck” is because for a few women to benefit from being beautiful, an awful lot of women have to be “ugly” or “plain”. Think about the millions upon millions of women who are not white, for example, and who are automatically on the “plain” side of the game.
    It’s a hierarchical system, much like every other: for beautiful women to enjoy beauty privilege, the rest of us have to be considered “plain” and be denied the perks that come from being considered “beautiful”.

    I kinda think that’s a false dichotomy – after all, beauty exists on a spectrum. And has different markers. As does intelligence, for example.

  58. Jadey
    Jadey August 2, 2011 at 11:33 am |

    Shoshie: A while ago, on Feministing, there was a post about the Adipositivity Project, with the requisite hand-wringing about how it was just sexualizing women, same old thing. It was hard for people to grasp why sexualized pictures of fat women was revolutionary or what it might mean to fat women who’s bodies are constantly desexualized.

    What?? Seriously? I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am – I can’t imagine people who are otherwise informed about social justice issues to not get the value of something like Adipositivity.

  59. C
    C August 2, 2011 at 11:40 am |

    I live in the UK (London), and the ads here are terrible. Really, really bad. I would gratefully take those photoshopped Turlington and Roberts ads any day over the Lynx deodorant ads (same as Axe) that litter this city (or the plastic surgery ads, or the H&M ads, or so on and so on). I wouldn’t hold up the UK as any sort of example of the benefits of regulating advertising- quite simply, enforcement is spotty and I find the sexist visual environment here a million times more toxic than I did in the U.S.

  60. Tei Tetua
    Tei Tetua August 2, 2011 at 12:04 pm |

    Muzakbox:
    This Saturday I went to my 20 year high school reunion and I wore almost no make-up at all because I really don’t anyway. Just eyeliner, mascara, and lip stain. Whatever. I could have worn a lot more or none and I don’t think I would have felt comfortable or not comfortable.
    But I shaved my armpits too. I haven’t shaved in well over a year. ..

    There was no description of the circumstances of this reunion, but let’s assume it was indoors, semi-formal. If that were true, I don’t understand why Muzakbox felt the need to shave parts of her body. Why not wear a top with sleeves? It seems as if everyone wants to talk about the restrictions women feel, and not about the ways around them. Did the men at this event feel any need to show their underarms? And in fact, did all the women? What I’m saying is, maybe the need to shave results from the need to wear a certain kind of clothing. Avoid the second, and it’s possible to avoid the first.

    As for “eyeliner, mascara, and lip stain” being “almost no make-up at all”, well um. That sounds like quite a lot if you actually do wear none at all, ever.

  61. Lampdevil
    Lampdevil August 2, 2011 at 12:29 pm |

    Shoshie: This. Thisthisthis. A while ago, on Feministing, there was a post about the Adipositivity Project, with the requisite hand-wringing about how it was just sexualizing women, same old thing. It was hard for people to grasp why sexualized pictures of fat women was revolutionary or what it might mean to fat women who’s bodies are constantly desexualized.

    I’m not the least bit surprised that some people would pipe up about the Adipositivity Project being something worthy of wringing hands over. As a fat woman, I feel like I’m reclaiming something when I perform femininity. I enjoy getting all fancy, and I think that enjoyment comes from the fact that I once didn’t allow to do it. On some level, I see myself proudly doing something forbidden and kinda naughty. I rejected makeup and fashion at a young age, because I had so strongly internalized an idea of myself as ugly/unfeminine/wrong and thus not able (or not worthy) to do any of it. When I wear makeup and fancy clothing now, I’m flipping the bird to the culture at large. By presenting myself in a similar fashion to the thin-white-cis-ablebodied default, I demand that I be seen.

  62. Tei Tetua
    Tei Tetua August 2, 2011 at 1:07 pm |

    There’s a thing here that’s totally fundamental but not addressed–it’s the assumption that a woman actually does add to her level of “beauty” by doing “beauty work”. I want to ask if women are really more attractive with cosmetics on than not, or is the “work” really a form of paying obeisance to the gods of conformity and rejection of what’s natural, all a ritual that has to be visibly performed to prove that a woman is in the tribe of disciplined people? Because personally, I think people look better as their unimproved selves, subject only to a minimal amount of cleaning and tidying. The processed appearance is called “beauty” but I think it’s something quite different. Or maybe I just don’t recognize beauty when I see it?

  63. Esti
    Esti August 2, 2011 at 2:13 pm |

    I think a lot of comments about using beauty work to signal femininity/desireability for members of groups that society has traditionally not associated with those things are phenomenally interesting and valuable in their own right, but they also bring up another question I’ve been mulling over for the past few days: why do these discussions seem to assume that rejecting traditional markers of beauty is somehow more authentic/empowering/uncoerced than buying into the traditional markers of beauty?

    I understand the argument that no one’s choice to wear lipstick is made in a vacuum. But neither is anyone’s choice not to wear lipstick. If you choose NOT to shave because you don’t like having to conform with the norm, that is every bit as societally influenced as choosing TO shave to fit into that norm. And if you choose not to shave because you find it annoying and like the feeling of hair on your legs, how do you know that you really like for those reasons and not because you really have an unconscious desire to be a little subversive and brave? It’s really, really not about between being influenced by society vs. making free choices. EVERYONE is influenced by society.

    And that’s doubly true when you think about the huge variety of ways that people perform beauty work — there are big, obvious differences between Kat Von D’s tattoos and a butch woman wearing a really great suit and the girl on Say Yes to the Dress who had a wedding dress train made to attach to her wheelchair, but all of them are about performing aspects of gender and sexuality and personality through one’s appearance. Yet these conversations always seem to be about cis women (and often specifically about TAB white young straight cis women) performing traditionally feminine beauty. Which makes it pretty clear that the conversation is not about whether beauty work can coexist with feminism, but rather whether the DOMINANT beauty work can coexist with feminism.

    And if that’s the case, what we’re really saying when we tell women that wearing lipstick can’t be reconciled with feminism (even if we also say it’s okay to do it anyway as long as you’ve thought about it and admitted your failing to yourself) is that every one of us has an individual duty to refuse to perform whatever society’s dominant norm is. And maybe you think that’s the way to get to a better world, but I’d suggest that we have a buttload of historical evidence to support the conclusion that rejecting one beauty norm does not lead to everyone’s individualism being celebrated but rather leads right back to… a different beauty norm. So maybe Kat Von D is currently performing beauty in a way that is subversive and that these conversations don’t criticize, but if tattoos continue to gain popularity then we could see a situation in 50 years when suddenly feminism tells women that they should think twice about getting tattoos, even if they think they just like them, because they’re feeding a dominant beauty mold that oppresses other women and their desire for that appearance is a product of social conditioning anyway.

    My feminism isn’t that reactionary. I think awareness of dominant beauty standards is necessary, but I don’t find policing (however gently we word it) of individual women’s beauty choices to be helpful. There is no contradiction between feminism and lipstick. The contradiction is between lipstick to the exclusion of all other things. I think the conversation needs to be focused on how we can support the non-dominant beauty choices people do make (the example of tackling workplace discrimination through unions, above, was a fantastic one), and I just don’t think we get there by trying to persuade everyone that regardless of their own feelings they need to personally perform non-dominant beauty out of solidarity.

  64. Esti
    Esti August 2, 2011 at 2:26 pm |

    And because that wasn’t long enough already: I do think that because the conversation is about dominant beauty being incompatible with feminism, it ends up being particularly patronizing and/or irrelevant to people who don’t and can’t perform the dominant beauty narrative. We construct these conversations with certain narrow assumptions about *which* women’s beauty work we’re discussing, and then when someone brings up a group like, for example, women of color, we tend to say one of two things to them: (1) you look close enough to the beauty norm that you have a duty to refuse to perform aspects of dominant beauty, even though doing so may have disproportionately negative effects for you (see, e.g., Beyonce; J. Lo); or (2) even when you do traditional beauty work you don’t look like the dominant beauty norm, so it’s okay if you want to keep doing it (either because your performance of it isn’t something that influences the people we care about, OR because you do influence others but we’re going to give you a pass on it) (see, e.g., Gabourey Sidibe, who rocks the sparkly eyeshadow and fancy dresses and gets zero shit for it from feminists).

  65. Esti
    Esti August 2, 2011 at 3:26 pm |

    @ Autumn

    Thanks for taking the criticism in the spirit in which it was intended — as I said way upthread, I thought that your OP was a much more nuanced attempt to tackle this issue than ones I’ve seen before, and you’ve been doing a great job of engaging other voices in the comments.

    To offer the flip side of my last comment, and perhaps something that is more in line with the context you were thinking of when writing this post: what do you think your views on this issue mean for women who, because of their natural appearance, start out as the paradigmatic examples of the beauty norm? For example, I went to school with a woman who was very attractive in all of the conventional ways (tall, thin, big breasts, curly blonde hair, blue eyes, etc.), but who didn’t seem to do any more beauty work than I did. Does she have more of a duty to reject (or at least recognize and question her complicity in) beauty norms than I do, simply because she started out closer to society’s ideal? If our focus is on how buying into traditional beauty hurts those who can’t/don’t want to do so, walking around with being naturally traditionally beautiful surely has equal or greater negative effect. And even if we limit the principle to beauty *work* so that we can avoid blaming people for the appearance nature gave them, the flip side of giving those born outside the traditional norm more leeway is giving my classmate less leeway — imposing more of a burden on her to reject beauty norms because she came out of the womb closer to them.

  66. Daisy
    Daisy August 2, 2011 at 3:39 pm |

    Kristen J.: @Ashley,If you think its likely that SCOTUS would accept comprehensive media regulation, I invite you to read some of more recent literature on the first amendment. The Court is getting more and more hostile to any restrictions on speech. I doubt you’d find consensus support among feminists for such a drastic alteration in our understanding of free speech. (If governments can decide who is and is not permitted to be shown in media, can you imagine the ways that could backfire?)Second, I didn’t say feminism was simply an intellectual exercise, but in the US when one racism is at the heart of the oppression (like I think it is for beauty) I don’t trust this movement. Plain and simple. Its track record sucks.

    Not that I think regulating media in this manner would be the way to go, but…

    Commercial speech is not fully protected speech under the First Amendment, which is why the FTC is allowed to regulate the way it does. The test for whether or not commercial speech can be regulated come from Central Hudson Gas & Electri Corp. vs. Public Services Com and stipulates that regulations affecting commercial speech do not violate the First Amendment if:
    1. The regulated speech concerns an illegal activity,
    2. The speech is misleading, or
    3. The government’s interest in restricting the speech is substantial, the regulation in question directly advances the government’s interest, and
    4. The regulation is narrowly tailored to serve the government’s interest.

    I think one could make a case for regulating many beauty-related advertisements as misleading. Just starting with airbrushing on make-up ads.

  67. Bridget
    Bridget August 2, 2011 at 4:14 pm |

    I hope this isn’t a derail, but what does TAB stand for? I’ve seen it on this website but nowhere else, and Google isn’t helping.

    Thanks.

  68. CassandraSays
    CassandraSays August 2, 2011 at 4:33 pm |

    @ Autumn

    The thing is, Feministe isn’t a 101 kind of space. So I do think that it’s reasonable to assume that most women here have given their own beauty practises some thought and come up with a compromise that works for them. Under those circumstances “go think some more” does kind of read like “clearly you don’t feel guilty enough…yet”.

    I think what’s bugging me here is the underlying assumption that beauty privilege is something that we should all consider giving up, if we have it. But choosing to give it up entirely can have some fairly radical consequences, because some aspects of beauty culture intersect with what most of society views as basic good grooming and requires of women in most jobs. So, if you were to give it up completely, that would probably limit you to a rather small range of professions (depending on where you live). Which overall wouldn’t be good for feminism, because we need feminist women to be present in as much of society as possible in order to effect any sort of change.

    There’s also the whole issue of sexual attraction, and for a lot of women deliberately turning their backs on beauty culture would limit their dating options considerably. I know this sounds like a shallow thing, but most people want a romantic/sexual partner, and if refusing to conform to beauty culture makes a woman less likely to find one, or limits the ones she has available to choose from…I think we’re getting into ground here where the more feminist choice may not be one that most women are willing to make. And I think that’s OK. You pick your battles.

    Also, as Natalia said above, beauty privilege can provide a shield from all kinds of things. It’s not fair, and it’s not right, but to expect all feminists to willingly give up that shield? Again, that seems unreasonable to me.

    Women who refuse to conform to beauty standards face all kinds of social sanctions as a result of that decision. I just don’t think it’s reasonable for the default feminist position to be that all feminists should at least consider refusing to conform with beauty standards.

    There’s Ashely’s point too. This isn’t an area where individual women making a specific choice is going to bring down the system. It may however create all kinds of problems for those individual women (again, without having much impact on the problem they’re trying to fight against, at least not in the short term), which is why I really don’t think “question these standards and consider not conforming” is the answer. If the standards are making you miserable and feel at odds with the gender presentation that you feel drawn to and you’re just not happy when you try to conform, then of course not conforming may be the better choice for you personally. But that’s not the path for everyone, and some people actually do feel more drawn to a more femme presentation, which also tends to get sidelined during these discussions.

    Thanks to saurus for bringing up a lot of the other issues that are bothering me, too. Within queer culture all this stuff looks very different, and as a queer person I bristle at straight people commenting on it from what’s clearly an outsider’s POV. For trans women refusing to conform to beauty standards is not only potentially psychologically uncomfortable, it can put them in very real danger. For black women beauty standards and what’s considered “good grooming” intersect in different ways than for white women, especially the issue of hair in a work environment. For goths our very specific beauty practises are part of how we identify each other – the makeup is a marker of belonging to a subculture. Hair can serve the same purpose, so can clothes.

    Basically I feel like this whole discussion always ends up simplifying things that are actually quite complicated, and ignoring a lot of the potential consequences of refusing to conform. And that’s partly a privilege issue, just not of the beauty kind. I, middle class white woman in the Bay Area, could refuse to conform and still be gainfully employed. It would limit the jobs I could hold, but I would survive and face only minimal harrassment. It would force me to give up my current career path, though, and I am not willing to make that sacrifice. It would also probably prevent me from dating the people I’m most attracted to, and I’m not willing to make that sacrifice either. And it annoys me to have “well OK then, but remember that you’re being a bad feminist” hanging over those decisions. Particularly since I do lean kind of femme by inclination, and I’m personally uncomfortable with the gender presentation that seems to be being suggested as the more correct one from a feminist POV.

    So, yeah, I’m rambling, and saurus summarised my discomfort with all this better than I can at the moment.

    “Like, am I going to privately think it would be “ideal” for a physically disabled teenage girl who feels like dressing up in makeup to not wear it as a feminist stand? Or that black women should have a good long think about wearing weaves because I, a non-black person, think it might be “complicit” in the racism against them? That’s fucked. But I feel like we’re an inch away from saying – yes, what you’re doing is a bit harmful, no, we aren’t going to slap you on the wrist for it because we sense in our gut that we’ll get in trouble for that. And it just feels…paternalizing? Chiding? Presumptuous? Something not good – to me.”

    Yep. Paternalising, scolding in tone, and generally feels like an unwelcome imposition that the people being chided did not ask for and may not welcome. This is not what I want feminism to be about. Introspection is fine, and so is choosing to defy whatever beauty standards that any given woman chooses to defy. But making it an expectation, part of what it means to be doing feminism properly, is…well, what saurus said.

  69. CassandraSays
    CassandraSays August 2, 2011 at 4:37 pm |

    And ahoy there, double negatives and various other grammatical abnormalities. I have shamed by chosen profession, and I will now go get some coffee so that I can hopefully be a bit more coherant.

  70. CassandraSays
    CassandraSays August 2, 2011 at 4:37 pm |

    My, not by, dammit. Coffee, now.

  71. saurus
    saurus August 2, 2011 at 4:38 pm |

    Bridget:
    I hope this isn’t a derail, but what does TAB stand for?I’ve seen it on this website but nowhere else, and Google isn’t helping.

    Thanks.

    Temporarily Able Bodied. Based on the fact that most people will acquire disabilities at some point in the future, particularly through aging (or have been disabled in the past). So being TAB is distinct from other identity markers that are generally unchanging (like being a white person).

  72. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. August 2, 2011 at 4:50 pm |

    @Daisy,

    Eh…Maybe. But airbrushing is to me the least problematic of the beauty norms. Perhaps that is the disconnect. When you say “Regulate Mass Media”, I hear “require mass media to portray all sorts of people, with various styles, races, body types, abilities, etc. etc. as beautiful.” Which a more significant intrusion on 1st Amendment protections.

  73. Cameo
    Cameo August 3, 2011 at 3:17 pm |

    I have spent the better part of the last hour reading this post and many of the subsequent comments. (sorry, boss).

    I work in what would be considered a “male dominated industry” (I sell plumbing fittings) and I have met with plumbers dressed like I normally would for work (made up face, blown out hair, fashionable outfit, heels) and I have met up with them on jobsites, dressed down (flats, slacks, ponytail, clean face).In situation A: I felt lots of eyes and I got paid attention to. Now, they were not always kind eyes, some were lascivious eyes, ok, many were lascvious. But I also felt powerful in the sense I knew I owned the room and I knew they would remember my company or buy my product. In situation B: I felt less oogled, (still oogled, I am a girl on a construction site). But I also felt less professional and less confident.

    So am I a victim of society? Probably to a degree? Did I get brainwahsed into thinking my appearance is a currency of sorts and learning how to use it? Maybe. Or am I empowering myself by dressing in a way that highlights my feminiity, sense of style and sense of well being, and in the end probably gets the sale, thus makes me more money?

    When I was younger I considered myself a feminist. The older I got, the more I moved away from that identity. Not because I wanted to conform – but more because it felt too restrictive. So black and white. This post is brilliant in that it gets at the heart of the gray area. Love it.

  74. Lina
    Lina August 3, 2011 at 3:17 pm |

    james:

    I think the downside of judging is that it forces one to become dogmatic. Dogma is counterproductive – it limits reexamination of assumptions, cuts out the dialectic process and makes current views into articles of faith. Should feminism be an all-or-nothing deal that people sign up for, or should it be an approach for experiencing life, a philosophy? I think that question is at the root of the reluctance to judge.

  75. igglanova
    igglanova August 4, 2011 at 8:36 am |

    Eh. I think judging is perfectly fine and human, so long as you keep the rude shit to yourself. (That is, leave individuals alone about the personal, trivial things.) If we try to eliminate judging from feminism, we’re going to end up with a bunch of anxious, neurotic people who are terrified of having an opinion that could be construed as mean!

    We can’t pretend that wearing makeup has feminist justifications, just because life becomes significantly harder when you eschew it. Any little privileges one gains from wearing makeup come at the expense of people who don’t wear it. So, unless you’ll end up in dire financial straits without the face paint (quite possible), forgive me if I have little sympathy for people who will miss the empowerful feelings.

    tl;dr version for people determined to hate me: sniping at individual women about their makeup use is a dick move and a waste of everyone’s time, but refusing to take a critical look at makeup use because of a fear of holding strong opinions amounts to avoiding unpleasant truths.

  76. The Week As We Read It | Canonball
    The Week As We Read It | Canonball August 5, 2011 at 10:02 am |

    [...] Living With Contradiction: Beauty Work and Feminism by Autumn Whitefield-Madrano, Feministe. The author discusses the difficulties she has reconciling her feminist beliefs with the act of wearing makeup. She argues that it doesn’t make one a bad feminist, as some have argued, but that the conversation must not stop there. If you’re a 21st-century feminist in western society, your beauty labor means something. We can’t blithely claim that cosmetics use is merely our choice, or that if it makes us feel good then it’s just fine. Feeling good in general is one of the aims of feminism, sure, but getting there through questionable means without, well, asking questions—and aggrandizing our own beauty privilege without closely examining what that means for us and other women—falls short of feminist goals. If we’re going to inhabit the contradictory space of having our feminist critique of the beauty standard while engaging with and benefiting from that standard, we must scrutinize that space with an honest, level eye that gives us grace for our contradictions while not letting us lapse into convenient answers. [...]

  77. TgirlKara
    TgirlKara August 6, 2011 at 11:33 am |

    This is such a difficult issue for me. I’m a 24 year old trans woman. I ALWAYS wear make-up, spend a lot of time working on my hair, and generally put tons of time and effort into looking pretty and feminine. When I’ve explained my behavior to my boyfriend(which frequently upsets him) I’ve always said things like, “as a transwoman, if I want to be able to maneuver through my life without being harassed, I HAVE to put more effort into looking like a woman.” But when I really think about it, I realize that don’t do it just for utilitarian purposes, I realize that looking pretty is a goal of mine in-and-of-itself.

    I’m just so afraid of what other women, especially feminists, think about my behavior. I don’t want to be perceived as a man mocking femininity or as a drag queen reinforcing stereotypes, but like the article says, we can be unaware of the message that our make-up can send. Sometimes I get the impression that because i “chose” to be a woman (physically) that some feminists are especially critical of the way I act and live, because after all I’m not REALLY one of them.

    I’m not prepared to make an argument for or against the compatibility of wearing make-up and feminism, but I do want to ask that people view my decision to do so as a legitimate choice, and not as a calculated effort to mimic femininity or as a message prescribing what I think femininity HAS to mean.

  78. Welcome to Monday ~ August 8th 2011 | feminaust ~ a blog for australian feminism

    [...] High heels and feminism; its way too easy to feel (or be told) that four inch heels and fire-engine red lipstick disqualifies one from being a feminist. Autumn Whitefield-Madrano, who also writes the brilliant blog “The Beheld”, wrote this for feministe on the connections between beauty and being a feminist. Conclusion? I can continue to own seven different versions of ‘cherry red lipstick’ and call myself a feminist. Which is good because honestly I REALLY LOVE my lipsticks…. [...]

  79. Gillian Goldblatt
    Gillian Goldblatt August 21, 2011 at 9:48 am |

    I’m sorry, but I can’t stop laughing at this “Ashley” character. Regulate the media? Teach the ills of beauty norms in Sunday school?

    Is this what you 21st century feminists actually believe? I’m almost sorry about all of the protesting I did for the movement decades ago. You people have totally lost direction.

  80. “Geek girls” and the problem of self-objectification | Geek Feminism Blog

    [...] When I was on the “Geek Girls in Popular Culture” panel at ApolloCon, we talked about this nonsense for quite a while, because, as a couple of the panelists pointed out, it seems like a geek woman can only get attention if she’s conventionally beautiful and willing to objectify herself. When geek women choose to self-objectify at geek events, they are not doing so in a vacuum. So while I think it’s possible that some of them are trying to feel empowered in their sexuality, and reclaim their femininity, they cannot escape the fact that this is a culture that embraces female fans almost exclusively as sexy objects. In other words, a feminist can wear high heels, but she shouldn’t lie to herself about what that means. [...]

  81. Beauty Work, Geeky Work « Changing the Rules

    [...] reason I wear makeup to job interviews and important meetings, even though I’m fully aware of what it means. Compliance with beauty norms has very real rewards, whether you’re hoping to get a promotion [...]

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