Friend Friday: Fashion, Feminism and other F Words

Us Feminist Fashion Bloggers are participating in a Fashion Beauty Friend Friday event today. Don’t be scared by all that alliteration! It really just means that I’m going to answer some burning questions about fashion and feminism, and that you should also click over and explore what other awesomely fashionable feminist bloggers have to say about all of this business.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks and I know I’ve been slacking on the nice-long-chatty-post front here, but it’s Friday, I’ve cleared some big deadlines off my plate, and the sun is shining. So I figured I’d dive in and chat away with you (at you?) for a bit.

Off we go!

1. Do you think there is an incompatibility between feminism and a love for fashion?

Not at all. That’s what I talked about in this post and also this one. We need to get away from these old-school ideas of what a feminist looks like and how a fashionista can’t look anything like that. These kinds of dichotomies pit women against each other and waste so much time and they make me very tired.

2. There is more to each of us than a love for fashion, how do you incorporate every aspect of yourself into your blog?

Well for starters, Beauty Schooled isn’t a straight-up fashion blog. It isn’t even a straight-up beauty blog. It’s where we talk about how women relate to beauty (including fashion) and why we sometimes love, love, love it and other times, it makes us want to remove our own eyeballs with a spoon. So it’s really important to me to be as honest as possible about wherever I happen to fall on that love-hate spectrum on any given day.

Take today. I am wearing my jeggings with gold ballet flats, a white three-quarter-length tee and my favorite necklace (you can see a picture of it here). There is something about this whole outfit that is making me so ridiculously happy. It’s classic pieces (jeans and a white t-shirt), it’s got a little bit of a me twist, and it just works.

All of this is making me feel warm and fuzzy towards fashion, and beauty too. But that’s today. Last night, I attempted my first DIY bikini wax. And let’s just say, I felt a little less loving towards beauty/fashion during that experience. Though I can’t deny — I love the end result. And it’s that tension between the parts we love and the parts we don’t love that fascinates me.

I don’t know if this answers the “every aspect of yourself” part of this question — I’m not sure I want to incorporate every aspect of myself into this blog. I love forming a personal connection with y’all, but I also want to stay on-topic. So I do tend to avoid sharing random facts about myself that don’t relate to the matters at hand, because I don’t want to be hyper self-indulgent or boring. Not that all personal blogs are these things! Many are not — and I get the addictive voyeurism thing. But I’m not sure I’m the right kind of writer for that project — nor do I welcome the intensely personal attacks you can get when you go that route in the blogosphere. (I once wrote about my wedding for AOL and well, lesson learned.)

I’d love to know what you guys think about this though — do you wish I was more open-book? I mean, I just told you I DIY’ed a bikini wax last night, so I don’t think my boundaries are overly enforced. But do you really care how many pets I have (three cats) or what color we painted our garden furniture last weekend (red) or what I’m eating for dinner tonight (pancakes)?

3. With the fashion industry still being a male-dominated profession, how do you think it would differ if women played a larger role?

WELL. Now we’re in my wheelhouse!

The great irony of the fashion and beauty industries is that women already play a huge role, by making up the vast majority of fashion models and salon workers. The face of both industries is decidedly female. And yet — only a small percentage of that female workforce achieves the kind of fame, professional validation and prosperity that we associate with “glamour” jobs like model and hair stylist. Plus, the majority of company CEOs, board members and even top fashion designers are male. John Paul DeJoria, co-founder of Paul Mitchell, one of the biggest chains of hair products, salons and beauty schools, has a net worth of $4 billion. While the women who cut hair in his salons and teach in his schools earn $413 per week.

If we had more women in the top jobs, those numbers would change and that would be a good thing for everybody. But whether the cultural standards perpetuated by these industries would change — well, I’m not so sure. Beauty standards have a lot to do with pleasing men, but they also have a lot to do with pitting women against each other. See Question #1 re: fashionistas and feminists for the most obvious case in point. If women really controlled these industries, would we be able to work towards a broader and more accepting definition of beauty? I really want that answer to be yes. But I’m not so sure.

4. How is your self-image and the way you carry yourself informed by your beliefs?

I can honestly say that I start out from a really nice place of self-acceptance when it comes to self-image — and I definitely credit a good feminist upbringing with that, because those beliefs in gender equality have given me a pretty unshakable sense of self-worth. And I know not every woman starts out from a place of automatic self-acceptance, and I’m truly grateful for that.

At the same time: Of course, I struggle with negative feelings about my body, face, clothes, hair, etc. I’m human. I get inundated by all of the same be thinner-younger-sexier messages as everyone else. And sometimes, I have a hard time admitting that I’m feeling insecure because I’m so used to thinking of myself as secure — and because, I talk all the time about the importance of a positive body image, so I feel like a giant hypocrite when I have a negative body image day. Or week.

But I’m working on remembering that it’s not my job to be the poster child for positive body image. It’s my job to be honest about my experience — good, bad, ugly, pretty — because we’re only going to build that broader definition of beauty if we face up to how the current definition doesn’t work. I went into a lot more detail about this over here and here.

5. Do you think clothing/makeup/hair helps communicate the truth about yourself or are those things superfluous add-ons?

Absolutely not superfluous.

Though they may communicate a truth that I am sometimes a little superfluous. And I’m completely fine with that.

Happy Friday, Friends! xx



Filed under Fashion, Fashionable Feminist

6 responses to “Friend Friday: Fashion, Feminism and other F Words

  1. Honestly, one of, if not the best response to this week’s FBFF.

    “…those beliefs in gender equality have given me a pretty unshakable sense of self-worth. ” So important. I feel like this statement was so necessary because if feminism doesn’t start within, then is its purpose truly fulfilled.

    Your answer to #5 was also perfection. I don’t think I have a problem with being “a little superfluous” either.

    Excellent read!


  2. I’m so intrigued by the tension you describe–loving the outcome of a beauty ritual but not loving the process. And I think you’re right that fashion (and appearance in general) can be used to pit women against each other; this isn’t inherent, and has much to do with economic power (in particular who is in power, and so often, as you point out, it is men). I find this stuff fascinating.

    As far as your level of disclosure, I like that you tell funny and personal (and painful–DIY waxing sounds scary!) anecdotes. But you’ve never been so self-indulgent that you are boring. And you don’t prattle on (ahem, I know something about that problem), so you always keep my attention.

  3. “But I’m working on remembering that it’s not my job to be the poster child for positive body image.”

    I just want to say YES all over that. And this whole post.

  4. Pingback: Baby Botox and Virgin Waxing | Beauty Schooled

  5. Pingback: [Fashionable Feminist] Friend Friday: Rules of Engagement | Beauty Schooled

  6. I really like your site. Good work

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