When putting on your makeup in the morning or sweeping your hair up into a messy bun, you might not always reflect on how the choices you make can have feminist undercurrents; but if 2015 has taught us anything, it's that beauty can be a powerful platform. This year, for instance, was full of radical feminist moments in beauty, sweeping from the choices many of us made in our morning showers (like razors or a lack thereof) to beauty bloggers using their voices to bring awareness to the still-unfair treatment women face in contemporary culture. And let's not forget major beauty brands like MAC launching campaigns such as MACnificient Me, which gave six unique, diverse individuals a chance to model the season's collection.
Commentary surrounding whether other people have the right to judge how a woman chooses to present her body was strong this year, with trends emerging that celebrated the power of choice; like glitter pits and #ThePowerOfMakeup campaign. Other times, we used beauty as a means to hard-hitting social commentary over the double standards women have to run up against; and how there isn't just one definition for what it means to look "feminine." Below are the seven most feminist moments in beauty of 2015; here's hoping for many more in 2016.
1. Increased Visibility For Female Body Hair
From Instagram to red carpets, hairy armpits had a moment in 2015. Miley Cyrus flashed her underarms on social media and at concerts, Jemima Kirke of Girls showed up to the CFDA Awards with underarm hair complimenting her red dress, and the #freeyourpits hashtag blew up on social media as humans showcased their dyed body hair in every color of the rainbow you could imagine.
Sure, some embraced the call to natural beauty and gender equality while others cringed at the thought of tufts underneath sleeves, but the point of this shift was arguably to get us thinking about why the idea of women having something as normal as body hair is so frowned upon. It could be argued that a lot of female beauty standards are set by men, and the trend went completely against what is normally thought of as "sexy."
Not only that, but the celebration of hairy pits acted almost like a call to action, signaling to women and feminine people that they have the right to choose how they want their bodies to look without the judgement or ridicule of society.
2. Beauty Vloggers Stressed Women Put On Makeup For Themselves, Not Others
Back in June, beauty vlogger Nikkie took to her YouTube channel to set the record straight for all the women who love to head out the door in the morning with a full face on: They do it for themselves. Appearing with a half-done and half-naked face, Nikkie originally created the video because she noticed that a lot of women felt ashamed to admit that they loved makeup because the admission could signify one of three things: They do it to attract men, they feel insecure, or they don't love themselves enough to go natural. Of course, this isn't always true. Women use makeup for all different reasons; and in the end, it's every individual's choice what they put on their face. The important thing is not to tear a woman down if she decides to play in bolder, heavier colors and techniques.
Feeling a connection to the message, #ThePowerOfMakeup movement snowballed as women recreated Nikkie's half-done look and used it as a tool to combat makeup shamers.
3. Adele Confronting The Male Gaze With Her Bare Face On The Cover Of Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone is infamous for its overly-sexy, wet T-shirt contest-like covers, which is what makes this particular issue with Adele was so striking. There's a certain entitlement the public often feels when it comes to celebrity bodies. We scrutinize them, pick them apart, ask to see them on display, and have an opinion on them at the ready. But by featuring Adele not only in a bathrobe, but with no makeup on, Rolling Stone combatted the male gaze when it comes to women in the spotlight. Adele appears not only vulnerable, but strong. Like she's not here to impress us, but rather to convey that she's the one doing the waiting. It's pretty cool how much a naked face can comment on society.
4. Women Embracing Gray
The silver fox hair trend is likely rooted in our obsession with playful, macaroon-like locks, but there's more to it than cheeky gray streaks. It offers an alternative narrative for how women are meant to feel about society's standards of beauty — specifically, society's obsession with youth culture. In an age when turning 30 often means breaking out the anti-wrinkle creams, deciding to go completely and gloriously gray is like a middle finger to those gotta-stay-young standards.
Granted, a lot of women likely dabbled with the color just because of the boldness of it (and there's nothing wrong with that). Some might even the say the trend is actually rooted in ageism, and a desire to appear more mature, but not at all older. To me, however, the granny hair trend felt like more of a way to embrace change, and to show that aging is something beautiful and to be celebrated, rather than ashamed of and hidden with dye jobs.
5. Amy Schumer's "You Don't Need Makeup" Video
In this amazing One Direction parody, Schumer skewered the idea of praising women who don't know how beautiful they are, and asking them to go all natural. That, of course, is a beautiful thought; but the genius of the sketch is that it outlines how women get bombarded with opposing messages: Be natural, but be polished and put-together and done-up.
In the video, she features a wholesome group of guys crooning to her that she's beautiful enough without makeup, as they urge for her to wipe it all away. Which, um, goes south pretty quickly. Once she does, the group is a little startled over what's happening underneath the foundation and mascara, suggesting she put it back on, and then some.
After the sketch aired, Schumer launched a #girlyoudontneedmakeup hashtag for women to share their bare selfies — doing everything from holding their babies, kicking butt at the gym, or going on adventures. When a flood of strong and badass women unite over one message, that's some powerful stuff.
6. When A Makeup Artist Tackled The "Unattainable Woman"
A YouTube sensation known for her other-worldly makeup tutorials, 24-year-old makeup artist Jordan Hanz used her skills to bring awareness towards the unfair representation of women in our media. Entitled "Unattainable Woman," her video painted a hurtful but true narrative of the unfair double standards between the genders. She stressed the frustration women feel over having their bodies, clothes, and makeup choices linked with trying to impress dudes; and how the rules of what's deemed feminine and ladylike seem to be taken out of a woman's hands and put into a man's. The resounding message of her #unattainablewoman campaign? To be who you want to be and to be proud of it; no matter how you decide to be a woman.
7. The Birth Of Glitter Pits
This beauty trend obviously piggy backs off the "grow your armpit hair" movement, but it takes it one fabulous step further. Not only do glitter pits embody the message that every individual is autonomous, including when it comes to how they want their body to look (male gaze and disapproving opinions be damned), while stressing that this often-hidden and neglected aspect of womanhood (body hair!) should be celebrated. Not only should you embrace your hair, but you should give it a party.
At the end of the day, these moments were about celebrating all aspects of womanhood; of our bodies, our beauty, and our inner (and outer) flecks of glitter. For this, they made history.