I've just read this post by comedian and writer Mark Watson, whose thoughts on women wearing make up got me thinking. My relationship with my appearance has been an ongoing conversation over the last 15 years. In that time I've had 47 different hair colours and styles (just approximately), been at least 5 different dress sizes and have gone for periods of time where I wear make up every day and other times where I don't wear any for months.
I have an ex-boyfriend who argues that all make up is deception and you can't trust a woman who wears it because you're essentially being presented with a lie. We disagreed on this. Massively. At the moment I'm pretty happy with my appearance, not massive amounts of make up but it's there just the same. Am I giving people a false impression of who I am as a person, a professional, a friend or a girlfriend, because I'm wearing eyeliner and mascara?
When I was at school, we had very strict rules about the make up that could be worn (ie none) and the girls who did plaster it on were referred to as 'cake girls', because it looked like they'd caked it on with a shovel. I judged them for it then, much in the same way that I still today am exasperated by the women who plaster it on. It upsets me the amount of time and money women spend on their appearance. The one line I particularly liked from Mark Watson's piece was this: If all the women who spend half an hour "making up" every morning did something else with that half-hour, the results would be startling. In a society where 24 hours is not enough to fit everything in, does this time spent on our appearances have greater knock-on effects? If women spent half an hour reading the papers everyday, or a book, or talking with their families, or whatever, would we be closer to equality?
I have younger twin cousins, one of whom was suspended from school for wearing too much make up on a regular basis. I spoke to her then about how beautiful she is, and how she doesn't need to wear it every day. During these discussions she asked me how I could be a feminist and wear make up? She was under the impression that this would leave me in massive conflict, which leads me to today's topic of discussion: does wearing make up make you any less of a feminist?
At the moment, I choose to wear make up on a regular basis. It makes me feel more confident (I hate the word empower, but I suppose that is what it does), and means that my appearance is something I don't have to worry about. Maybe because I don't wear a lot of it, I don't obsess over it, but I do question why I feel the need to wear it, or why it makes me more confident. Does it change my views on fighting for equality? Not in the slightest.