Is being interested in beauty anti-feminist?

free_texture___background_by_katzengras84-d4poz78Can you be feminist and still support the beauty industry? It is a tension I have been debating in my mind for a while now, so I thought I would share my thoughts in a blog post.

The concept of feminism envelopes and represents a broad spectrum of opinions, not all of which I agree with. Fundamentally though, it seems ridiculous to me that anyone would dispute that men and women deserve equal rights and opportunities.

As an avid reader of opinion blog posts and news sites, it has come to my attention that some people believe that it is hypocritical to support feminist ideas and have an avid interest in make-up and beauty.

While I cannot dispute that wearing make-up makes me feel more confident, I do not make an effort with my appearance purely for social acceptance or male attention. Wearing bold lipstick, for example, makes me feel sexy and empowered. Interacting with the stereotypical ideals of femininity does not necessarily make you anti-feminist. As well as this, experimentation with different colours and looks can be used as an outlet for self-expression – ultimately it is a person’s choice whether they are to alter their appearance or not.

Although I am certain that people’s personal use of make-up should not be called into question, I find the beauty industry itself is quite problematic. Although it does encourage creativity it is largely fuelled by people’s insecurities. Ideals pushed for both men and women are punitive and flicking through content can leave me feeling dejected and inadequate. There is lack of diversity in models and muses and stereotyping of gender within the media. Magazines print ‘horrifying’ and ‘shocking’ pictures of perfectly ordinary-looking celebrities who haven’t shaved/aren’t wearing make-up.

I am certain that it is not anti-feminist to take pride in your appearance (or to choose to conform to the archetypal image of femininity). Despite this, I feel that there should be checks and balances on the beauty industry: more diversity in the selection of models, the removal airbrushing and promotion of impossibly unrealistic ideals, and less shaming in the appearance of ordinary human beings. Make-up should be promoted as something that empowers, and should not simply be oppressively pushed onto the consumer.

Do you guys feel the same conflict when writing/reading blog posts? Let me know your opinion down below. Can you subscribe to the beauty industry and still identify as a feminist?


11 thoughts on “Is being interested in beauty anti-feminist?

  1. I agree. I’m into feminism immensely, i guess you could call me a feminist, especially since Emma Watsons’ (queen!) HeForShe speech. I think the beauty industry has its own moral issues but mixing it up with feminism is unnecessary and almost attention seeking? A girls makeup should be seen as just a simple accessory to them, just how men have accessories. Its a personal choice that 99.9% of women make to make them feel confident, sexy and as you said, empowered. Im totally with you! x

  2. I don’t think being interested in beauty is anti feminist. Feminism is about social, economic, personal, political and cultural equality between men and women. I think just because your interested in beauty And makeup doesn’t counter act those views, makeup is like an art just on your face. Many men also were makeup and if feminism meant we shouldn’t be allowed to be interested in that sort of stuff then something’s wrong. We don’t think it’s bad for guys to like cars etc so we shouldn’t have it any different. However I do think that it is important to still be comfortable in your own skin and to not feel like you need to rely on beauty to succeed etc. Soorry for the really long comment, good post! ❤

  3. I’m unconvinced that you wear lipstick solely for yourself. You say you do it to feel sexy, but what does sexy means? It means you’re sexually attractive – but the person who feels the sexual attraction to you is someone else.

    I find that nearly all attempts at working on our apperance is for other people. However, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing. Women put make-up to look pretty for men. Men go to the gym and lose weight to look pretty for women. I started working out when I had enough of being rejected. Working out helps me in other ways, sure, but I can’t deny that female attention is the strong motive.

    I find that we often shame women who are trying to look good for male attention. As if saying that you wore that dress with hopes someone will notice you is a bad thing.

    We should seperate the beauty industry and trying to look pretty. As for the beauty industry itself – I don’t think it has a moral responsibility for diversity. It delivers a product. Models are selling their body. It’s a market that should be controlled by the consumers, and I think it will only change if we show interest in different looks. SuicideGirls is a response to that – It’s for an audience that prefer dyed hair and tattos rather than bodies like marble.

    It could be the lack of diversity in styles in models is a relfection of the lack of diversity in our opinions.

    The shaming part – look how fat that girl is! – is crossing the line. It’s no longer delivering a product, but throwing a person to a pit of wolves.

  4. I love this post, I literally cannot disagree with a single word you’ve written. Personally, I think you can be a feminist and still be a part of the beauty industry, I mean being yourself is one of the most important ideals of identifying as a feminist, right? To me, feminism is about equality between sexes and you shouldn’t have to sacrifice what you enjoy so you can fit into a society driven stereotype – surely that is the very thing that feminism is fighting?

  5. I self-identify as a femme Muslim feminist of color. I suffer from anxiety and I have working class roots though I am very much middle-class in my life right now. For me, being interested in the beauty industry and running my own fashion blog is a way to counter all the prescriptive and narrow-minded views of what is considered beautiful, acceptable and worthy of love.
    So much of the beauty and fashion industry remains unchallenged whether it is heteronormativity (lots of people find that their sexuality is fluid and do not fit in a single category which will remain stagnant their whole lives), the issue of racial/ethnic diversity (so. many. white. faces.) , the complete ignorance of class politics (who can afford to buy things and why) etc etc. There is so much to investigate but at the end of the day, I DO ME and doing me means being interested in politics and lipstick! keep doing you girl. it’s important to question these things so good on you! xo

  6. What a great topic to start a discussion about! I agree – there are all kinds of issues with the beauty and fashion industry, but that doesn’t mean that wearing makeup and being a feminist are mutually exclusive. I don’t think its hypocritical at all. Remember, there was a time when “nice” women didn’t have the freedom to wear makeup. Feminism is all about women having choices. I appreciate being able to choose to wear makeup if I feel like it 🙂

  7. Hiya, Indeed great post! As a feminist myself (we all are, right?) we have to consider feminism as it exists in modern, 21st century society and as mentioned above, feminism is about both women and men having equal opportunities and the same choices open to them. I have written about (modern) feminism on my blog & certainly touch upon it regularly, ultimately modern feminism is no one thing and it can’t be categorised into a movement i.e. 2nd wave etc. it’s just modern. The modern woman takes great pride in her appearance, is career focused and is kind of in control of her own life and spending. I think absolutely there are issues with the beauty industry but I love how we can invest in it for ourselves and have fun with it (i.e. blogging) 🙂 x

  8. Hi hun, I always love reading your thought posts. I totally think you can be a feminist and part of the industry, the same goes for making yourself look pretty or dressing up. I just can’t stand all this pigeon-holin’ that goes on – Like, do what you want to do, and believe what you want to believe (In general not you!).

    Maybe it’s my age..I dunno.

    Catia xx

  9. Love this post! I find myself defending my decisions to work in the beauty/fashion industry all the time. Some people say it’s shallow, or like you say anti-feminist, but I see make-up and fashion like an art form. It’s creative, fun and forever changing. I think to be able to wear make-up and be feminine, yet be an independent & strong career woman is fantastic. Like someone above said, it’s all about the freedom and choice to be able to do and be whatever you want to be, whether that’s never wearing make-up at all, or wearing it everyday. I think us women are our own worst enemies – judging each other and criticizing each other for our decisions.

  10. Oh this can open a serious can of worms… the meaning of feminism has become so out of wack lately and the last few decades that it actually makes me insane. I read a book called “wonder woman” It is essentially about how Women are expected to wear every hat including business family etc, and still be perfect. Feminism is supposed to be about equality. To me equality equates to being equal to men, but it is unlikely that this will ever happen, because in reality there will always be more expected of women than men, and that’s okay. Biologically women are better multitaskers than men. Beauty for me is about feeling good and being creative. So I would say no it isn’t anti-feminist… no more anti feminist than say … eating ice cream for breakfast. If it feels good do it. Everyone over thinks these things!

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