Ever since I was 11 years old, I’ve always been femme, to some extent. The extent of my femme depends really on my overall well-being. The better I feel, the more femme I am. The more makeup I put on, the better clothes I wear, the more I take care of my hair.
I remember when I first started getting interested in feminism, when I was about 15, I was going through a really tough period of my life. I was depressed and was at my least femme. At that point, I also thought that beauty and fashion were patriarchal constructs designed to subordinate women and I stayed as far away from looking femme as I possibly could. I became angry and would always think to myself “why don’t men have to put on makeup and do their nails to be considered sexy?” While this is something I still grapple with, I don’t think being femme has to mean being oppressed. You can be feminine and enjoy makeup and clothing and glitter and nail art and still be a fearless feminist!
How you choose to express yourself is just that: a choice. It doesn’t define you as a person nor your identity as a feminist. You can wear sweatpants and a ponytail everyday or high heels and lipstick and either way and it just means you're presenting yourself the way that makes you feel the most comfortable. And you should always be true to who you are. Beauty doesn’t have to be an oppressive force.
Don't get me wrong -- I still believe the beauty industry can have a lot of negative effects on society and women (and increasingly men). It tells them they aren’t good enough and aren’t worthy as they are, that they have to change in some way. This message is obviously crap, but the way you do and feel about beauty doesn’t have to be. If you are critical about the media and society's messages to women about beauty and do it for yourself, then you are golden. It’s really about just being femme for you, because you enjoy it and find it fun and you feel that you are being the best possible version of yourself, not because you are trying to cover up flaws or because you think that’s how you are supposed to dress or look. And if you are doing that, give society the middle finger and DO YOU! Express yourself the way you want to, femme or not.
So with that being said, I’ve learned to embrace my femme. It makes me who I am and I love how I feel when I express myself in that way. It feels the most….me. I fully embrace it now, without shame. I just always try to not judge myself or others for how they chose to express themselves. I think that is really the key. To let everyone be themselves without letting society get in the way. Learn how to embrace each other instead of tear one another down. Femme or not, everyone is beautiful the way they are.
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