ICYMI, women are deluged daily with unsolicited opinions about everything from what we eat to how we dress. It happens to all of us, and it's tiresome — we're over it. If you happen to be a lady who likes to wear heels and watch makeup tutorials like me, I'm sure you'll agree there are certain things feminine women are tired of hearing specifically. 'Cause we all need to know what yet another person thinks about the choices we make with our own bodies, right? (No. No, we don't. Even though they so often insist on telling us anyway.)
It's yet another example of how the deeply-engrained patriarchal values our society has taught us from an early age rear their heads in all of us, too: Just like men, women weigh often in on each other's appearances in ways that are unhelpful at best and downright harmful at worst. In fact, there's long been a debate among feminists over femininity and whether it has a place in feminism (more on that in a minute). The sad reality is that, in addition to being conditioned by men for hundreds of years to think we have to look or be a certain way, women are also putting each other into proverbial boxes — to which I say, boooo. The patriarchy has a tendency to devalue things we code as "feminine" and place more value on things we code as "masculine" — when in reality, all of these things are valuable, no matter how our culture codes them.
Of course, there are many different ways to be a woman and many different ways to be a feminist. There's room for all of us in this world, woohoo! So if you like to rock winged eyeliner and watch rom-coms, you do you, sister. Still, there are certain remarks you'll likely hear along the way that we all hope fade away in the near future.
1. "You Don't Need All That Makeup To Be Beautiful."
First of all, wants and needs are two different things. My love affair with makeup is not driven by necessity but, rather, desire. Secondly, and more pointedly, this entire comment is completely subjective. It implies that the person who is making the comment can unilaterally deem someone physically attractive based on their own preconceived standards of beauty. Which, c'mon, is kind of bogus. If I like doing it, and it makes me feel beautiful, that's all that matters.
2. "Aren't You A Little Overdressed?"
Did I miss the memo that today was dress down day? Or maybe I missed the one declaring that grownass women who are entirely capable of gauging the appropriateness of an outfit all on their own were at some point deemed unfit to do so? If I want to wear an everloving ball gown to the grocery store, I fail to see what the big deal is. Women just can't seem to win — if we are underdressed, we are "lazy"; if we're overdressed, we're considered indulgent in girlish behavior; and if we're wearing still other options, we're "asking for it."
3. "You Shouldn't Worry So Much About Impressing Men."
There are so many assumptions being made here that it's hard to even know where to start. Just because a woman is feminine does not mean she is trying to impress a man. Often times, she's doing whatever she's doing because it gives her self-confidence or because that is how she feels most comfortable. Sometimes, sure, she may be dressing to impress — but who said anything about men? Not every woman — indeed, I'd even go so far as to say most women — don't use the approval of men as the guiding principle for their choices, whether they're choices about how they present themselves or choices about what they do with their time.
4. "You Can't Be A Feminist And Dress/Look/Talk Like That."
Somewhere along the line, some theorist decided that femininity is a social construct and that feminist women should not cater to it. However, I think there is an important distinction to be made here. If a woman feels like she has no other choice than to wear makeup and do her hair and act girly then, yes, this is part of a patriarchal social construct, and a damn shame, too. But if a woman is feminine because it is empowering to her and she chooses to be feminine of her own free will then, hell yes, that's OK. Feminism and femininity are not mutually exclusive; both can exist at the same time. The point is having the ability to choose what's best for you.
5. "You're Trying Too Hard."
This comment is comical at best. Too hard for what? The degree of commitment I exhibit in perfecting my winged eyeliner technique (still working on that) or marathoning Lifetime movies does not affect anyone else. It has no bearing on my worth as a person. It's just something that I enjoy and that comes naturally to me. If that is trying too hard, well, sign me up every. Damn. Time.
6. "Think Of How Much Time You'd Save If You Scaled Back Your Morning Routine."
We're all given a certain amount of time each day, and it's up to us to fill those hours however we decide. Right? So I spend an extra half hour in the morning (some mornings) straightening my hair. My husband spends an extra hour every day playing some Star Wars game on his smart phone. To each their own, I say.
7. "You're So Girlie."
And? You know what? While this is often used as a thinly veiled insult, I'm going to reclaim its power as a compliment. You know what Beyonce says about girls, right?