Technically it is finals week and I should probably be studying. I’m hoping to have time today or tomorrow to write you another real post about hitting my first NA birthday. But tonight something is nagging at me.
My Facebook feed is littered with invitations to join virtual cosmetic and jewelry-in-candles parties. Several friends have just adding me to these groups. Apparently being born with a vagina means I NEED make-up and costume jewelery and scented sticks of burning wax. I rarely wear make-up or jewelry and don’t remember the last time I lit a candle.
These are girls I love, friends of mine and friends of friends. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Yet I am disgusted with living in a world where women have to wear make-up and where we are judged more on our sex appeal than our brains. This isn’t feminism. This isn’t empowerment. Using some male-defined idea of sex appeal to gain some smidgeon of body-based power is not the answer. Are we so foolish that we do not realize we are turning ourselves into objects?
God didn’t make me to please men. He made me to please Him. And, it seems, to write. And to be a sponge for knowledge of all sorts. My function in this world is not merely to be a hole to put a cock in.
No, I am a whole human. And one thing I know is that hiding my problems behind a layer of cosmetics is going to do nothing for me on the inside. Confidence is not a brand of mascara. Confidence is knowing through every cell of me that I am precious to God and exactly, 100% equal to every other human being on this planet.
It’s one of those days I get why joining a convent and wearing a habit with a vale could feel like empowerment. I don’t want to be criticized and coerced based on my lack of girly-ness. Now, I do sometimes wear a little make up and do sometimes enjoy earrings and necklaces. Part of becoming whole is embracing both my “feminine” and “masculine” traits. I just completely fail to see why I should be required to present a false face in order to be social acceptable. I don’t want to be held to some ridiculous standard of porno-perfection.
We will never dismantle patriarchal inequalities while shaming each other for not buying the right lip-stains or having hair in the “wrong” places. (Guess what?! We’re mammals, mammals have hair!) We will never be whole people if we are stressed about going out in public without masks on. We will never have independence or equality while spending billions of dollars on products that only make us feel more insecure.
Now, I do not want this post to be taken as a reverse-shaming on women who do enjoy these things. But I do think it is critical we take a long, hard look at why we think we like these things. I don’t think I’ve ever talked to anyone who thought spending hours a week on hair-removal was really rewarding or enjoyable. So why do we do it? Because we like the results. Why are those desirable results?
Want to know a big secret? In the time I’ve spent not fussing much on my appearance I’ve written over a million words. I’ve read thousands of books. I’ve developed hobbies and talents. I’ve enjoyed my children’s company. I’ve grown a garden. I’ve saved money on worthless snake-oil promises. I’ve spent time with friends. I’ve gone to school. I’ve traveled. I’ve prayed.
Does any woman ever die wishing she’d spent more time getting her face just right or shaving a little closer to her bikini line? And really, do we actually need bikinis or “bikini-ready-bodies?” Just who benefits from these ideas? It isn’t me. It isn’t my daughter. It isn’t my friends.
My daughter. She’s seven now, not-so-little J. She thinks she needs nail polish and high-heals. I’ll take her to the convent with me. Her dad encourages her to paint her nails. I want to scream, “let her be a child!” Don’t play into making her be a girl or a woman. She has beautiful, strong toes for running fast and balancing well. She has beautiful, strong fingers for writing and coloring and making things and feeling things and holding hands and washing flower pots and planting fairy gardens. Let her be who she is and what she does, not just some paint and shoes and a two-piece bathing suit.
No, my child. You are not just a girl. You are a marvelous, incredible human being. A creature God breathed spirit into and created perfect and without any need for adornments of cosmetics.
Why do we keep breaking ourselves to be beautiful and covering the scars with powder and lipstick? Since when did unhealthy and uncomfortable clothes come to be associated with empowerment? Who is empowered by these things? It sure as hell isn’t women. Shoes I cannot run in are not empowerment. Nails I cannot dig in are not empowerment. A face I have to paint on is not empowerment. Clothes I have to squeeze into are not empowerment. Running the rat race while juggling two children alone is not empowerment. Juggling two children alone because a selfish man sees me as an object is not empowerment. Being told I’d better marry the selfish man because I’m now “damaged goods” is not empowerment. News flash: my worth has nothing to do with my vagina having been used.
No, all these things are disguised as feminism and feminine but the are only more symptoms of objectification and patriarchal power. Just as men have no business telling me what I can or cannot wear so to women. Even women I love. I don’t have to use cosmetics to be a female-gendered human being. I don’t have to look for approval from anyone. And I really don’t want my news feed littered with advertisements trying to make me feel not-enough so I will spend money on feeling more not-enough.
You are enough. I am enough. She is enough. (BTW, those sales party things are scams…)