Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Is it feminist to... let your child wear make-up?

After listening to an old Stuff Mom Never Told You podcast on the right age to start wearing make-up I began thinking about this ridiculous question.  Make-up is not inherently bad, good or sexy.  That last one is the most important here because that is the whole issue.

First. things. first.  NOBODY needs to wear make-up.  Nobody.  It does not mean you are a more valid or respectable or attractive human being if you wear it and if someone tells you different then you have my permission to head-butt them.  Okay maybe not, no violence.  But it's true.

Despite not needing it to survive, a lot of people do wear make-up and for many different reasons.  Women often wear it so they feel more ready for the day, more 'put-together'; it's the war paint, the face we show the world.  It's partly ritual too.  If I am going on a night out that is part of the routine.  For many people, including myself, it's fun.  It's creative and enjoyable to paint your face and make it look how you want that day.  I covet certain make-up items for their beauty and ability to brighten up my face and my day,  I get excited by certain lipsticks and eye shadow palettes.  I love the different finishes and the myriad of colours available.  And I don't ever, not once, give a flying monkey's bum what anyone else thinks of my make-up.  I don't care what anyone else says 'suits' me or thinks is inappropriate.  Unless I am working, then I conform, or don't wear it at all, girls gotta earn.

Now we have the purpose of make-up all straightened out, is it okay to put it on a child?  Well, allergies aside, why not?  I don't wear it because I feel like I must to look nice, pretty, sexy, beautiful, presentable, not tired, not hideous.  I wear it because I feel like it that day and I enjoy it.  So why can't kids put make-up on for fun, if they choose too.  My almost two-year-old son already loves watching me put my make-up on and touching anything I'll let him get his hands on.  He loves how the brushes feel on his skin and copying what his mummy does by putting blusher on  his cheek.  Why should that be any different for a little girl too?  So long as you are not telling them it makes them look pretty (as that implies prettier) then what's the harm?  Emphasise the fun and creativity of it and you can't go wrong.  Let them experiment as they grow up, whether boy or girl, and if they are in no way interested in it then don't tell them they need it.  Because they don't.





















The real problem with make-up comes when we say things like "Mummy needs to put her face on" or "I can't go out like this!" or "I need it to make me look nice".  We all feel that way sometimes but, in our current pressure cooker of a society, our little girls (especially) don't need another person telling them that they need make-up to be respected and liked.  They need to know that their face is fine and that how they look is irrelevant in most circumstances.  If you emphasise how you look to your kids they will think how they look is really important too.  It's no good spouting off self-loathing diatribes about being fat and ugly then telling them they don't need diets or make-up.  That doesn't make sense to young, growing minds.  Be the best example of loving yourself and they will love themselves too.  Make-up is not evil.  The patriarchal society that tells girls they must be attractive to be valid is evil.

The history of make-up might relate to make-up making women appear more sexually attractive but it doesn't need to mean that now.  It can just be fun, like dressing up.  We need to get away from the idea that women must attract men to have a full and worthwhile life.  That starts with make-up, wear it, don't wear it.  It doesn't matter.  But don't tell kids that it's a grown-up thing because then that automatically links it to sex, which is ridiculous.  It's a vicious cycle that many teenage girls find distressing: wear make-up-attract-boys-be-validated-sleep-with-boy-be-vilified.  They don't need boys or make-up and linking one to the other is damaging.  We need to tell our children that wearing make-up does not make you more or less likely to attract a mate and there are more important things to worry about that attracting a mate any way.

To conclude, there is no 'right age' to start wearing make-up because it is for frivolity, creativity and amusement - not to make yourself attractive to the opposite sex.*

Fem Love - Danielle

*Very hetero-normative, but that seems to be where the problem is

What do you think?  Do you let your child put on make-up?  Do you think there is a 'right age'?

Comment below or email me at myfeministlife@gmail.com






   He also likes to try on my shoes - so cute!

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Gingers

Just a week after saying how much I love dying my hair crazy colours I have decided (with some help from my mum) to get my hair back to it's natural colour.  Well, as close as possible to my natural colour because my natural colour is a darkened-strawberry-blonde so not the easiest to replicate but I will need to cover the blonde when the blue fades as white hair does not suit my complexion.

This brings me back to the other version of individuality I have felt when it comes to my hair colour and that is the 'being a ginger' individuality.  Gingers suffer.  They suffer in the sun, they suffer in school and they suffer trying to find pale enough foundation.  My hair was bright ginger when I was wee and has dulled down to the aforementioned colour as I have become an adult.  I personally did not suffer the ridicule that many do as children and teenagers, probably because it wasn't as bright as some others and also because I have never really cared about my hair, or anyone else's opinion.  But.  If anyone ever tries to tell me I'm not ginger when I am plainly sporting my natural colour I go booloo.  I like being part of that club; I am on the less obvious end of the scale but I still have freckles all over my body, have to wear factor 50, cover up and sit in the shade when it's sunny and have hair that would be coloured-in orange if were ever made into a cartoon.  All the hair on my body is ginger, from my head, eyebrows, legs, underarms and pubic hair.  In fact, it is the less visible hair that remains bright orange.  I love it.  I love the colour, I love the fact that I am part of a small section of the population with this shade of hair.  I love the freckles on my eyelids and knees.  It's part of who I am.

The weird thing about being ginger as a female is that overall we get an easier deal than males of the same species.  Being different, unusual and colourful as a man is not as desirable when you are male as when you are female, it seems.  Things seem to have changed recently with famous male gingers such as Rupert Grint and Ed Sheeran and projects like the Red Hot 100 which aim to change the image of gingers in society.  Of course, part of the teasing that happens occurs purely because kids are mean and anyone different is ridiculed at that age but it is still worse if you're a boy.  The reason for that could just be that males of the species very often use teasing, even as adults, to bond with each other and they will find anything to pick on each other for; if you're ginger it's just to easy not to use that.

A downside of being a ginger girl is that it is just another reason for perverts to fetishise you.  As if being a woman isn't enough, we have to be classified by hair colour or other parts of our bodies and how big or small they are.  Blergh.  I have encountered these creeps and I have also heard the phrase 'red heads are best in bed' which just makes me shudder, as if having a red/orange tinged hair means that our personality is affected by a socially constructed idea about what the arbitrarily assigned colour 'red' has.  IT'S MADNESS PEOPLE, MADNESS.

So, in short, ginger hair is great, not weird or overly special.  Just a hair colour.  If the same percentage of people with ginger hair had brown hair then they would have the piss taken out of them too.  Except you probably wouldn't call the brown-haired people night-walkers because they wouldn't get burnt just looking at the sun from indoors.


Sunday, 17 April 2016

Blurple hair and men in women's spaces.




I've been away for some time and now I'm back... let's not wang on about it.  Time to make this blog what it should be - about my life as a big ol' raging feminist - yay!

I have recently moved back home to Essex, specifically to a little village near the big town that we're from.  I am already in love with village life; there is loads going on for grown-ups and kids alike and the people are just so welcoming.  I can't even count the amount of times people on the street have said "Hello" and "Welcome to Hobbiton*not actual village name*" when they learn we are new here.  I do miss my amazing mummy friends from our previous town a lot, but I'm still keeping in contact with them - not letting those beauties go!

Since we moved to this little slice of heaven 3 weeks ago, I have been dying my hair again.  This time I thought I would try the blue/purple (blurple, natch) that I had coveted from the start.  It was mostly a success but it's still a little patchy.  Amateur hair dressing aside, a lot of people might wonder why I have this hair-dying hobby; I had to bleach my hair to begin with, causing damage to my hair, it's a lot of upkeep, and many (mostly) women consider it a brave and therefore risky thing to do.  Head hair is the prized possession of many women and they wouldn't want to risk it 'going wrong'.   I don't really care about that sort of thing and even if I have to shave it off I would consider it an exciting new change and a chance to get into head-wear (England not being the warmest of climes...).

Sooo many people tell me they love my hair - random strangers in pub toilets have requested to touch it, cashiers at the Tesco petrol station shout "love the hair" as I leave, even men compliment my 'do - but it's not the attention I crave: it's the individuality ( individual being a loose term: I know brightly coloured hair is a bit of a fad at the moment so I'm not the only one doing it, but I'm definitely unusual round these parts).  When you become a mother you do lose some of yourself because there just is not enough room for all that is you and all that is them at the same time.  I have changed in so many ways for the better since giving birth to my son but as you get to grips with this whole child-wrangling business, you start to want some of yourself back, some of what made you an individual rather than a care-giver.  So, my hair is my hobby.  Also, I currently don't have employers to dictate the way I look so best to do these things while you have the chance!

The other topic of this entry is the one of men being all up in women's spaces.  The fact that they were present in those spaces was not the problem, the problem was...

Firstly, I have been going to a lot of new parent and toddler groups locally to meet new people and as usual they involve 99.9% women when it comes to the adults.  At one of the groups there was 1 dad, noticeable in his singularity.  He seemed totally un-phased by his alien status - unlike mine and other male partners who refuse to go to any 'mum and baby' groups alone if they happen to be off in the week.  It is so sad that men feel that way - intimidated by a space that should welcome all parents and children.  And they do, welcome them, but it's society at large that creates the problem for men here.  They feel intimidated because they do not see people like them doing these activities - it's the old adage of 'you can't be what you can't see', which is usually used in reference to women and high-powered jobs.  But, as vital as it is for young women to see females having a variety of successful careers, it is also vital for young men to see males as carers, caring and able to care for children.  Men need to feel as if they are allowed to care for children without it being considered unmanly, weak or even weird.

The next, mainly female, space in which there was a lone man was at a mindfulness and meditation class I attended.  I am looking for ways to take care of myself mentally and improve my stress management because I do struggle with mental health issues and I would like to stop taking pills for it eventually.  There are many reasons to learn the art of mindfulness and how to meditate but all of it relates to self-care in some way.  There was 1 man out of 10 people in the class.  I have not got as much experience of classes like this as I have of parent and toddler groups but it was interesting to note the inequality present here and it lead me to wonder if men are encouraged to look after themselves as much as women are.  Is it acceptable for men to acknowledge that they need help with their mental fortitude?  Are they just expected to 'get on with it'?  The male suicide rates certainly would confirm that attitude within our society as they are consistently higher than that of females.  It seems an injustice that men do not feel that they are as worthy of self-care as women are.

Lastly, the final female dominated area in which men were present this week was the comments of a Feminist News Facebook post.  This picture appeared on my timeline -
I commented below the picture "I love to leave blood trailing all around me. It feels far more civilised than facial stubble- that's for sure!" just to be humorous, really.  I rarely get involved in these things online but I thought this was a fairly obvious and inoffensive comment, anyone with logical thoughts would agree... Other people started commenting in response, mainly women joining in with the witty banter, but then along came the men.  I won't bother quoting them but the gist was that shaving your face every day is as bad as, if not worse, than having periods.  I didn't respond to these men as they simply don't deserve my energy and I just couldn't be bothered.  Anyone who does not have a vagina that bleeds regularly does not get a vote.  Women don't specifically shave their faces but they are required to remove hair from other (more extensive) parts of their bodies in order to be deemed acceptable for public consumption.  Stubble and beards on men are actually deemed quite attractive, for the most part.  Lady beards are not generally given the same admiration.  I'm not sure why I'm telling you guys this stuff because you all know this, it's obvious.  But not to some, and those people, once again, should stay out of it until they have had a good old bleed out of their bums once a month.  Men are always welcome in feminist discussions, but only if they're not being twats.

Thoughts and comments welcome, what do you think of these topics?  Comment below or drop me a line at myfeministlife@gmail.com

Love and stuff, Danielle