How can I be a confident feminist who also loves beauty and fashion?

I am a feminist. I fundamentally like myself. I love makeup. I love my hair. What gives?

I used to feel some sort of conflict between loving traditionally feminine things and feeling a desire to adorn and enjoy my appearance with being a feminist (which everyone should be) and loving myself for who I am. So how can I be a confident feminist who also loves beauty and fashion?

1) Feminism is about choice. I should be able to wear all the makeup I want, and I should never have to wear makeup if I don’t want to. I shouldn’t be fired because not wearing makeup is “unprofessional” and I shouldn’t be denigrated for loving red lipstick and outrageous eyelashes. Men should be able to wear makeup. Sometimes I hear people point to cultural norms such as a bias against men wearing makeup or skirts as proof that there’s sexism on both sides and feminism is outdated, but this only proves that anti-woman sentiment is ingrained in our culture and feminism is as needed as ever. Men aren’t supposed to wear skirts or makeup or be stay-at-home parents because these are seen as traditionally female activities, and traditionally male activities and attributes and more valued in our culture than traditionally female activities and characteristics.

2) Human beings love beauty. Show me someone who doesn’t love a beautiful sunset, a great song, or a lovely scent and I’ll show you someone in the throes of a deep depression (which I have been in the past, no judgies here) or who is dead. People love beauty. We see it in other people, in landscapes, in animals, in art, in nebulas and stars and galaxies, in cells under a microscope. Beauty is everywhere and we fucking love it. It’s an important and enjoyable part of the human experience. So why wouldn’t we want to touch and see and smell beautiful things on ourselves? I love the feel of my curly hair, the look of my red lipstick, touching my glossy nails, smelling my coconut perfume.

3) I do what I like and I don’t listen to anyone. I don’t hate anything about my appearance. Nothing. I’m 5’6″ and a size 10, really pale, and I’ll never get a Brazilian. I don’t like my body because it’s perfect according to cultural beauty standards, I like my body because it’s a human body. It’s fascinatingly complex, helps me experience the world, and constantly surprises me. I did nothing to deserve being born, I fucking lucked into it. So I’m not into beauty and fashion because I want to disguise features that I hate or conform to a cultural beauty standard. Wear shoes your boyfriend doesn’t like, get a tattoo your mom hates, play football. Whatever.

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When I was three I asked my mom to take my picture because I felt pretty that day.

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Love ya.

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