BEING A FEMME FEMINIST
When you look at me, do you see a feminist? Because you should.
I've found that within in the beauty and fashion industries, feminism is, or at least was, given a name saturated with negativity. The snap judgement of what a feminist is and what a feminist stands for is one of total prejudice – something along the lines of bra-burning hairy armpitted misandrists. In some cases, this is totally true, but not all. Either way, each association is perfectly valid. The only types of feminism I won't entertain are those that identify with SWERF and TERF values.
It's really difficult to say what a feminist looks like, because feminism isn't but people wearing make-up certainly shouldn't be ruled out. When I first came to understand my own identification as queer, and started exploring the scene that runs alongside the association, I suddenly felt very out of place, very pressured to look different. I wished I looked weirder, I would worry that people wouldn't take me seriously, that I look too straight or too superficial or something equally bullshit. This is because I hadn't looked at the bigger picture, I hadn't done my research and I had judged something as it was on the tiniest surface. I'd been so intimidated by this new subculture that I knew was for me, but I wasn't sure where my place within it would sit.
It wasn't until I became more comfortable with my identity as queer, and as a feminist, and as a lesbian, and as a woman that I began to realise that actually none of that stuff matters. Of course it doesn't. The whole point of feminism and of queer culture is that it's decidedly un-caring about what you look like, and entirely celebratory of the way everyone looks.
I often wonder if people think of me as vapid, shallow, narcissistic, self-righteous, because that's what society tells us that women who wear make-up and take time over their image are, and this is a feminist issue. Some people, feminists included, demonize women for the choices they make about their appearance, and this is something I will never get on board with.
I can now begin to understand myself to be applying tools in which to make myself feel that little bit more powerful in order to get through my day to day life – in this instance I'm referring to my life-long and sincere love for make-up. I love make-up. I love wearing it and talking about it. I loved how it felt when I was 15 and was suffering with acne, how it felt when my mum took me to Debenhams and the lady on the MAC counter matched a concealer to my skin, and when my mum bought it for me to cheer me up. I still love how it makes me feel, when my mind is telling me things that
I know aren't true. I know that acne doesn't make me ugly, it doesn't make anyone ugly. I know I don't need to wear make up, and have never needed to wear it, and nobody ever
to wear it. But I want to, and there are millions of women everywhere that feel the same way. They shouldn't be discounted as anything other than perfectly valid for the choices they make in order to make themselves feel empowered, confident, strong.
When I feel good about myself, I get shit done. When I feel bad about myself, I don't. I get into bed when I get home from work. I don't shower, I'm not productive, I pick my skin, I wallow. These things are all ok for me to do, but I'm happier when I'm not doing that. I'm happier when I feel like I'm taking care of myself, taking care of my mind and soul as well as my body. I'm happier when I feel like I can use what I've got to prove something.
I will never subscribe to a culture that demonises women for being themselves, I will always try and set an example - that you can be who you are and that will always be ok, because you are a goddess. You can wear whatever makes you feel happy and confident, whatever makes you feel like you can do absolutely anything, regardless of what it is. Ultimately the thing to remember is that you are better than what mainstream society is saying you are. You don't need to do any of the things it's telling you to do, but if you want to do it then that's ok, because you want to. But you don't need to.
It's your choice
I suppose that's why (even though for the most part my appearance is very inoffensive, very easy to digest) I don't shave my underarms - because it subverts what society says it beautiful in young women, and I think subversive beauty is incredibly important for the progression of feminism. I think of myself as being a tiny bit more awesome for it, because it makes a statement and I'm at a place in my life and in my confidence and in my politics that I can stand for something like that. It is one, minuscule thing that might end up contributing to society being more accepting of all other forms of equally valid yet bizarrely still subversive beauty. I love the way having hairy pits makes me look and feel, even if you don't. If you don't like it, then don't do it yourself, its really
Ultimately, being femme isn't an identity that's exclusive to women, or people that are female identified, or people that wear make-up, or enjoy fashion, or dress up, or perform any of the characteristics or preferences that are associated with the concept of femininity. Being femme is an identity, something to associate yourself with, if you want to.
To me, my identity as femme isn't something I've stumbled across because I'm a lesbian and I'm not butch. To me, it's taking the heavily gendered, misogynistic ideas of femininity and turning them on its head, unsubscribing to what you're told you need to look or act like and making it about what you want to look or act like. And really, it's all very trivial if you're happy and comfortable, especially if we're all working towards the same goal.
People who believe in themselves and have the confidence to be proud of who they are, are my heroes. I strongly believe that everyone has the capacity to be one of those people.
You are incredible.
If you're interested in gaining more of an insight about the stuff that feminism is all about, feel free to join this Facebook group I've set up -
. In it, we share articles and discussion topics to help educate each other. The more we know, the better.