You know, to get rid of swoob (sweat-boob). Yes, the idea of boob deodorant might make you titter, but it’s a real thing an actual company is marketing. And that says a lot about our beauty industry.
Of course, human beings throughout history have altered their appearance, to indicate membership in a group, to denote status or to appear attractive. What counts as “attractive” may vary wildly across cultures and traditions, but the pursuit of beauty is important to many human beings in many different societies around the world. An interest in the aesthetic isn’t weakness or vanity. It’s the foundation of art, of design, of architecture, of many of any given culture’s most treasured developments. It’s not shallow or frivolous for women and men to interest ourselves in our own personal aesthetic, devoting time and care to how we look. There can be an art in dressing and doing your hair and make up, not to mention a female-centric passing down of traditions and practices. Lipstick alone is not propping up the patriarchy.
But socially obliging women as a class to present in a certain way that necessitates the expenditure of time, money and effort is.
No one is legally required to shave their legs, blow dry their hair, get a facial or wear lipstick. But if you don’t wear make up, you can be fired for it, and many employers have dress codes that require a full-done-up face. If you’re a black woman and you wear your hair natural or in braids, you might be fired as well, or informed that your look isn’t “professional” – even if you’re not a woman at all, but a little girl.
And don’t get to thinking that striving for attractiveness will solve your problems. Employers can fire you for that, too.
Beauty also pays you back. Beautiful women (and men) earn much more than their average-looking or unattractive counterparts. But beauty, especially for women, isn’t so much inborn as an achievement. That truth is simplified in the teen movie trope of the nerdy girl transforming into a babe by whipping off her glasses and shaking her hair out of its ponytail, but the fact is that beauty is about a whole lot more than just genes – it’s not just that it can be bought and paid for, it’s that it usually has to be.
The full piece is here. Unfortunately it’s tough to get to all of these issues in 1,000 words, but I want to be clear that I don’t think there’s anything inherently unfeminist about altering the “natural” appearance of your body in a whole variety of ways, whether that’s a haircut or shaving or lipstick or cosmetic surgery. I do think there’s something wrong with an industry that survives by creating insecurities and identifying “problems” with (mostly female) human bodies and then selling you a cure. That women buy those products isn’t some sort of feminist failing — or at least I hope not, given that you’ll have to pry my under-eye cream from my cold dead hands. But the enormous pressure women face to present in a particular way has real, tangible impacts on our self-esteem, our mental health and even our paychecks.
Similar Posts (automatically generated):
- I’m glad Lena Dunham gets naked on Girls by Jill January 15, 2014
- Purity Culture and Sexual Assault by Jill May 10, 2013
- Who doesn’t want to end violence against women? by Jill March 18, 2013
- Leave Amanda Bynes alone; look at yourself instead by Jill June 1, 2013
- Sexual regret is about culture, not evolution. by Jill December 4, 2013