Beauty & Feminism

Is having a beauty category on a feminist website wrong, inconsistent, or hypocritical? HELL NO!

Beauty and feminism seem to have this odd way of opposing one another. But for many, it is the complete opposite. Those who call out feminists for wearing “too much” makeup or caring about their appearance are not as much concerned with feminism as they are with judging other women. Feminism is not about shutting down all society standards or only focusing on women breaking down boundaries, it is about women’s freedom to choose for themselves.

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Those who continue to bash the beauty industry for telling women they need fixing may have a point, but it is human nature to have insecurities. And using beauty products to enhance our features or hide flaws we do not love only strengthens our confidence. Whether you choose to dye your hair for fun, cover greys, wear makeup to hide your acne, or let your creative side shine, none of these things take away your feminism.

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Yes, brands telling women they need to lose weight and magazines photoshopping women are not sending the best or most empowering message by any means. But just as we have to remain aware of Facetune on Instagram, it is up to us to acknowledge this. We choose which beauty products we use, and how we use them. And that is what makes beauty feminist.

Feminism is not about bringing women higher than men. Nor is it about modesty or a sole focus on internal beauty. Rather it is about women having the liberation and freedom to do, say, and wear what she wants. A feminist is a CEO. A feminist is a stay at home mom. A feminist wears no makeup and prudish clothing. A feminist glams up her makeup and wears a short skirt. A feminist is anything she chooses to be. So having a love, passion, or interest in beauty only offers women another opportunity to make her own decisions. As author, Autumn Whitefield Madrano said in an interview with ELLE, “beauty and feminism coexist in me and in you and in any woman who is a feminist and does any kind of beauty work.” What makes something like beauty feminist is claimed by the woman herself, not anyone else.

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Sadly some women still choose to use beauty as a way to shame feminists. Or use feminism to shame women who care about beauty. But that argument becomes moot when the true meaning of feminism is at the forefront. When Emma Watson was shamed for showing cleavage in a magazine, many people were outraged that she still had the audacity to consider herself a feminist. But as she slapped back, what does her cleavage have to do with anything?
The idea that women only show cleavage, wear makeup, or worry about their appearances to attract men, be seen as attractive, or to make a statement is shocking to me. Just as teenagers are sent home from school for exposing their shoulders, this is not due to the woman’s choice, but rather how men, society, or non feminists view women. Any women or man who is truly a feminist would look at the picture above and see a beautiful woman wearing what she wants, not a woman wearing slinky clothes to lessen how women are viewed or promote the depiction of women as sexual objects.

And whether a woman applies makeup, shows cleavage, or gets a spray tan to receive attention, impress their peers, and feel more confident when looking in the mirror — so what? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so if you use beauty to alter someone’s perception of you, it is your choice. You are the beholder of your own beauty. A woman defines her own version of beauty and that is what makes beauty feminist.

Just as fashion is not one size fits all. And foundation is not one shade fits all. Beauty and feminism are not one idea fits all. All feminists, all women, and all people do not have to agree. And without agreement, you can still have support, or at the very least tolerance. Women are women, and that is a beautiful thing.

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Care about beauty or have it be the furthest thing from your mind, either way it is your choice, and that is the most beautiful and feminist thing there is.



Photo Credit: cover photo via, first photo via, second photo via, third photo via, and fourth photo via @RamonaForGirls

Samantha AnnComment