How are you all going?
Now, there is no denying that I am a fairly shy person. Whenever there’s a discussion in one of my tutorials I tend to shrink into the background, even if I have an opinion that I desperately want to be heard. I guess I’m a little bit nervous of what people will think, which I know that I shouldn’t be. Everybody is allowed to have an opinion, no matter how ludicrous it might seem! However, there was one instance recently where, for some reason, I just couldn’t hold my tongue.
I was in a communications tutorial and we were discussing the problem of sexism in everyday media. We were given a presentation which outlined everything from sexism in television to music videos. One of the most notable images we were shown, however, was a picture of Taylor Swift on the cover of Time magazine. This was given as an example of how the media is becoming more progressive in the way that women are represented in print. However, when it came time for questions, one of my female classmates said something that truly shocked me.
‘You say that the Taylor Swift cover is an example of a positive representation, but what about the big red lips that they’ve put on her?’
Hearing this made my stomach drop. To me, my classmate’s words were upsetting because they were reflecting an assumption that I had heard so often when I was young that I almost assumed it was true: ‘women only wear makeup for men’.
I remember that when I was young, about ten or eleven, I began experimenting with makeup. Every day I would get so excited trying out different sparkly eye-shadows and lip balms. My personal sense of style had always been strong from a very young age; when I was five I would choose to wear shiny princess dresses out to the shops rather than a pair of shorts and a T-shirt. It was just what was natural for me. I always felt so happy knowing that I was wearing exactly what I wanted to, so makeup was just a natural extension of this.
However, I had no idea that my choice in personal presentation was being seen differently by others until I was leaving the house one day to go to my younger brother’s soccer game. I had been feeling inspired that morning, so I was wearing one of my nicest dresses and one of my favourite lipsticks. But, as I was walking to the car, my dad said something to me that I found strange
‘Daisy, you do realise that the boys on your brother’s team probably aren’t interested in girls yet.’
I was so confused. I had never expressed any form of attraction to my brother’s friends before, so what was it about putting on a nice dress that gave my father that idea? This attitude was reflected once again at school. After putting on a pearly white eye shadow, my friends crowded around me at recess asking me who I liked. When I told them I didn’t like anyone they replied stubbornly that I must do, simply because I was wearing makeup!
But makeup is so much more than this. What many fail to realise is that makeup isn’t a method of ‘attracting’ men, but rather a means of self expression. When I put on my darkest, most volumising mascara in the morning, I do it because I feel amazing when my eyelashes flutter. When I get my cat-eye flicks right on the first try, I feel happy because I know that I look amazing! Like how some men feel a boost of confidence when they’re wearing their favourite suit, when I’m wearing red lipstick I’m ready to take on the world.
So why is it that my classmate didn’t consider the possibility that maybe Taylor wanted to wear red lipstick in the first place? Why didn’t she think that this lipstick to Taylor is probably a source of confidence and self-expression? Why is it so easy to assume that makeup is only for the male gaze?
So, after hearing those words, I took in a deep breath and said something that I had wanted to say for years:
‘I don’t think that makeup is sexist at all’
Thank you for reading!
Lots of love
Image from here