Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My Lady Grooming Habits Are About My Control Issues, Not Men

 Well I'm sick, and bored and got into a twitter um...heated discussion with @meghanemurphy about her recent article on Feminist Current. She says a lot of things that make sense like how "Make up is a product of a culture that places tremendous focus on women's appearances." Sure. Fine. That's true. But I totally disagree with her assertions that women only wear make up etc. so straight men will find us attractive. And if you say you do it for "yourself" or other women you are a liar. I'm sorry, it's way more complicated than that.

 Meghan says that what men want has seeped into our culture so much that women have internalized the male gaze and think they need it. Maybe that's true for some women, but calling anyone who says differently a liar is extreme in my views. I have always worn what made me feel attractive, and could not care less what men thought. I've had so many men tell me they like me better without make up or I don't need it or whatever. Don't care. Not that I wear a ton anyway I just wear my BB cream and lipbalm daily, but I used to do a full face in HS. And my boyfriend at the time hated it! Did not care. Still wore it every day. We are given messages about what straight men want, but we are also given messages from the fashion industry, which is run by women and gay men. There are a lot of things thrown at us that say "be this!" for all sorts of reasons and I feel a lot of women are like me, they pick through it and only keep the things that resonate with them. I like the things that I like and that's that. Did the things that I like originate somewhere? Sure. Is that somewhere always the mind of a straight man who may or may not want to fuck me? Not necessarily.

 Straight men apparently want to say they "hate make up" but really want women to put in a lot of effort with natural make up. The last time I heard this actually being true was with a boy in high school. Any guy who's actually lived with women or had a long term relationship has seen them put on make up and knows the difference. Or they just cannot tell the difference and therefore you don't even need to put in the effort. If I complain to my bf that I look like a mess when I just wake up, he says "no you look the same" (which great, I'm glad I'm out walking around looking like I just woke up!) but really they usually cannot even tell when you're wearing make up most of the time, so if you are doing it for men it's probably a waste of time.

 I am the first to admit I'm totally vain. I insist on looking a certain way at all times that's up to my standards. And guess what? Those standards are probably way higher than most men's standards! Men have hit on me in my pyjamas. Men have hit on me when I'm sick. Men have hit on me when I'm sweaty. I've seen some of the women men find attractive and been like...her? Hell I've seen some of the women in Maxim and other men's magazines and been like...her? I have of course worried that I was not attractive enough in general. But I have NEVER ever worried that I was not attractive enough for men. I have seen some really unattractive people who did not even have good personalities land some decent men. It's the way of the world. The whole thing just makes no sense. It's weird and it mildly annoys me, but whatever kind of a wildebeast you are, trust me you can get a man. And you don't need make up.

 When my skin was at it's worst I never believed my boyfriend when he said he didn't notice. Then we hung out with a friend of mine who had a huge sty near his eye. Thing was hideous. It had it's own personality and political leanings. When I finally asked my friend about it, after an hour of conversation my boyfriend said "oh...I guess you do have one." After a freaking hour of staring at this guy's face. This is what we're dealing with, ok? Anyone who's really that concerned about not impressing that baffles me. I am not perfecting my cat eye for a group of people who for the most part would not recognize a sty on someone's face. I find that idea profoundly ridiculous.

 Now other women are a different story. Of course I try to look nice for other women! Other women actually have taste. Other women will notice that I've  painstakingly matched my lipstick to one of the many colors in my dress. Men? Yeah right! Doing this for men is a huge waste of time. When I'm out in the world I don't look at men, men are boring, I look at other women. And naturally I want other women to look at me.

 The compliments from other women aside, it's mostly a control issue for me anyway. As I said in my XOJane piece, the less in control I feel in my life, the more I turn my attention to myself. Unless I'm really pressed for time, I shave everything every day. Even when I'm single (and I'm not into sex outside a relationship) because the hair on my head is not naturally black so therefore....and I find that aesthetically not pleasing. I had a boyfriend who would have liked it very much if I let it grow out down there. Nope. Cause it wasn't about him.

 I will only care if a guy (or anyone) thinks something about me is unattractive if I agree with them. The only time I cared that a guy didn't like my haircut was when I knew the hairdresser fucked it up anyway. When this guy I went for a few dates with on OKC said I should get my teeth straightened the only thing I felt was annoyed at his nerve. I like my teeth, so I did not care.

 I will acknowledge that some of the things I like are things that are considered generally attractive by men or the media or whatever, but some of them are not. Sure I like clear skin, and big boobs, and small waists, and light eyes. But I also like crooked teeth, and being pale, and ethnic looks, and all different sizes of women. I receive the same messages as everyone else about "what's attractive" to men or otherwise, and sometimes I agree with the media and sometimes I don't. I pick and choose. I'm not saying people aren't shaped by these things, but we are not ONLY shaped by these things. We have a choice. We can like wild curly hair, because our awesome cousin who we looked up to growing up had wild curly hair, we can like big noses because a pretty teacher we had in grade school had a big nose, regardless of what the media tells us. The media doesn't have the be the only thing that influences us.

 Some things about me fit what's considered attractive by society and some of them dont, but I've decided I like the way I look generally and no one is going to convince me otherwise. The only way that would change was if something that I currently like changes into something I don't like personally, even if other people like that. If I woke up tomorrow and had naturally straight hair I would be really upset. Not everyone is this way. Some people care way more about what the media says than me. That's fine, I understand why. Some people care more about what men think than me, that's fine too. But don't call me a liar because I don't.

 I certainly wasn't goth in my Long Island High School so men would find me attractive. They did anyway (I'm telling you, not very strict standards), but if they didn't I wouldn't have changed. I look the way I do because that's how I feel on the inside I guess, that's what makes me feel like myself. Make up, clothes, hair, all of it. If women only did these things for men, we would all look like Playboy Bunnies and the world would be very boring.

 Sorry for the rant, I am bored and sick and need a distraction.

I love this one dearly, but do not give a shit if he likes the lipstick I'm getting all over him!

1 comment:

  1. Excellent points here. I do think that women internalize the male gaze to such a degree that it's pretty much impossible to know where our appearance desires come from--but it's quite a step from there to "women who want to look pretty are totally brainwashed," you know? It's an underestimation of women--and it's an underestimation of men too. For like you said, I've never worried about not being attractive enough for men en masse. For individual men, yes, but men as a whole? Spare me!