a gabby schulz & ken dahl internet repository
Updated: January 27, 2016 by gabby
I actually came almost full circle on my thinking on this.
I always thought of makeup as something forced upon women – by society in general, if not by men, then by marketing, peer pressure, capitalism etc.
While I still definitely see a large element of that (as with everything), I’ve come around to the idea that it can also an be an empowering tool for women, and something that we don’t necessarily have to understand or pass judgement on.
The real sad thing is that, without noticing, I had this undercurrent of “she’s wearing [too much] [the wrong] [obvious] makeup” judgement, that in hindsight perpetuates underlying issues just as much as an undercurrent of “she should wear makeup”. The problem comes from the idea that people are wearing (or not wearing!) makeup to satisfy our gaze… a thoroughly embedded idea I think.
Not that most of the beauty industry shouldn’t be burnt to the ground, but I feel like we’ve hit this awkward middle ground now where women are expected to break down their stereotypes/ not shave etc, but at the same time, still subconsciously expected to look like women look on TV or in magazines. I’m sure it takes some people longer to put on makeup now, because not only do they have to look good, they also have to look like they’re not wearing any!
In the last few years I’ve been around a few strong women who couldn’t give a fuck what I (or anyone else) think about the makeup they put on! It’s been a bit of an eye-opener to have my high-horse get crushed under their heeled feet. But definitely good for me!
But not everyone’s situation is the same. I know millions of women are forced into uncomfortable clothing and weird ritual face-balming that nobody wants to have to do…
Anyway, oops, this ISN’T to find fault with your feelings in this comic, I just ran with my thoughts for a bit there! Cheers for another possibly inadvertently thought-provoking one ;)
Yeah i pretty much go through that same thought process whenever i draw something like this. Clearly it’s none of my business, and i’m not trying to tell women what to wear or not wear on their face; i just think makeup looks way, way more uncomfortable, limiting and toxic than anything i ever put on my body before work.
And i also know women who consider their pro-makeup choices empowering, & i have nothing bad to say about that (not that anyone’s asking me).
What weirds me out personally about the social status of Western women’s makeup styling (besides how uncomfortable & expensive it looks) is the way it demonstrates that patriarchy is very much setting the limits on how we define “empowered” or “independent” or “free,” even among feminist social strata. And let’s not even get into how it defines “deserving of affection” — or, for that matter, gender! Sometimes it’s hard for me to see how empowerment that comes from within these boundaries can be revolutionary & not just cosmetic — its main function seems just to be further streamlining & empowering the legitimacy, or at least the indestructibility, of patriarchy, white supremacy, & industrial civilization. Not that that erases anyone’s specific, personal good experiences using makeup; after all, NOTHING in life presently happens outside the boundaries of patriarchy. But if the discussion stops there, patriarchy & co. thrive all the more for it.
But again, i wouldn’t interject those unpopular opinions into any discussion more public than my own diary comics, unless prompted.
Good chat, team!
the “awkward middle ground” that you refer to, simon, is nothing new. it’s the moving goal posts of patriarchy. no matter what a woman does, how successful she is at being “correct”, patriarchal spectacle can always find her errors, even if the errors need to be made up on the spot. it’s as old as patriarchy.
it’s a nice notion that women *can* be empowered by wearing facial armor, but it’s completely delineated by patriarchy. as long as that’s the case, it’s a performance for patriarchy. i don’t see what’s so empowering about that. that said, i also fall under this delineation by being a human recognized as a woman, one who doesn’t put much effort in feminine performance.
i don’t buy the choice feminism garbage that when a woman chooses *of her own free will* to participate in fucked up beauty standards, she is exercising power. what it means is she’s just playing the game to get by in overlapping layers of oppression. i’m cool with doing what you need to do, but it’s bogus to say that it’s somehow liberating to fall in line with the expectations of a misogynistic mass society. our “free will” is an illusion that keeps us putting one foot in front of the other, stepping on those below us, and being stepped on by those above.
it’s also interesting that we use the word empowerment a helluva lot to talk about women’s choices. having power, being powerful… attributes much admired by patriarchy. i get pretty sick of being called a badass or a strong woman or other such shit. i know what it means to be praised for my so-called masculine qualities. it doesn’t make the meritocracy real, and it doesn’t change how much our culture hates women.
I need to reconsider my use of words like “empowered”, interesting, thanks. But I don’t really see me changing my mind (if you were trying to address that?) re. not passing judgement either way, and trying not to see a woman’s appearance as a performance (or lack of) for me to pass judgement upon. So I wont see you not wearing makeup as doing so just because you’re trying to do the opposite of what the patriarchy expects of you, and I’ll extend the same courtesy the other way.
Mainly because I’m a guy, and as far as I can tell any input from me on what a woman should look like (telling them they should be more adorned, less adorned) is exercising a privilege that I don’t feel comfortable with.
I think that as a woman you’re in a situation where it’s ok for you to make some kind of judgement, including what you think other women should do or how they should act and respond to the system (especially if you’re trying to achieve change together). But I don’t feel comfortable doing that.
oh my, no! certainly not encouraging you to judge women for their choices! i’m super glad you brought up your thoughts on this, and it seems like you have a healthy recognition of your privilege. i was really only addressing that first paragraph to you; sorry that it sounds like the whole ramble was for you.
it’s a difficult topic for me, because i wrestle with What It All Means. sometimes i want to conform to femininity, because it might be fun, or it makes me less self-conscious in certain situations, or there is abundant praise (it never fails that people who know me coo over my appearance when i have a feminine presentation). however, it would be misguided & probably dangerous to conflate the social rewards for an increase in my agency or autonomy. i struggle to share this opinion with women i know who are extremely invested in being feminine & feminist.
i get that my usual frumpy-comfy, neutered manner of dress is also a performance within patriarchy, and it’s crazy-making trying to figure out where to draw the lines, but it strikes me as important to participate in this dialogue wherever i feel safe. i often find that here.
that’s all. just offering my ideas and not particularly trying to persuade anyone of anything.
Very glad you shared your thoughts too, they already made me think about things a bit differently :)
Who’s the chick in the second panel? She’s HOT!
Hahahhaah so good “when do i get to eat or touch my face” hahhahha
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