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October 30, 2013 11:00 PM   Subscribe

Caroline Heldman on The Sexy Lie
In the 5 minutes that I've been giving this talk, on average the women in this audience have engaged in habitual body monitoring 10 times. That is every 30 seconds...It simply takes up mental space that can be better used completing math tests, completing your homework. It just sucks our cognitive functioning.
posted by hindmost (78 comments total) 50 users marked this as a favorite

 
[A couple of comments deleted. Maybe read/engage with the links rather than talking about something unrelated or making a quick snark? Thanks.]
posted by taz at 11:53 PM on October 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Fun related activity: When a man cat calls you, respond with an extended laugh and declare, “I don’t exist for you!”

I think it's the "extended laugh" part of the direction that makes me love it so much.

Women Laughing With Salads, Mocking Their Harassers.
posted by book 'em dano at 12:37 AM on October 31, 2013 [5 favorites]


Related fun activity: .... eating in a decidedly non-ladylike fashion is also great fun. Burp and fart without apology. Adjust your breasts when necessary. Unapologetically take up space.

I get this...but is being completely obnoxious the way to really overturn the harms of sexual objectification?

She had me a "not worrying about what you look like."

Great post in general.
posted by man down under at 12:58 AM on October 31, 2013 [5 favorites]


Women are damned if they do and damned if they don't. If you engage in the behaviors discussed, you're vain, you're self-centered--and you're condemned for that. You're a shallow bitch, which should be read to mean "dumb woman I want to demean and fuck". If you don't, though, you're penalized for not performing your gender correctly. Congratulations: now you're a fat dyke, which should be read to mean "dumb woman I want to demean and maybe fuck". Either of these things is often enough to disqualify you from the hallowed halls of Those Whose Opinions Are Worth Hearing.

Women who wear makeup are viewed as more competent, friendlier, and trustworthy--I don't think that it's a big stretch to imagine that other aspects of body monitoring engender similar feelings. But like everything else, you have to balance it perfectly--too much makeup, and those happy fuzzy feelings mentioned go right down the tubes. You're trying too hard, see. But no makeup isn't trying hard enough. Obviously.

I want to favorite the idea of decoupling our self worth from our sexual value to heterosexual men about a million times--but it seems disingenuous to say "This is a great thing we should do!" without also acknowledging that heterosexual men are still disproportionately the gatekeepers of the world, and that your self presentation, especially as you get older, isn't just about how you want others to see you, but is also about presenting yourself in a way that will get you past whatever metaphorical gates it is you need to be getting past.

I found it very telling, really, that Heldman gave this talk wearing a tailored jacket, high heels, and a blouse with a ruffle over her breasts. That, though she wiped it off at the end, she went onto the stage and gave the bulk of her presentation with full makeup, including false eyelashes. That her hair is, from the looks of it, dyed, and carefully styled to give the illusion of artful casualness. I don't fault her for these things, mind, but I don't think that it's unfair of me to point out that regardless of what her personal self might be like, her professional self is carefully produced and monitored--because if a woman went onto the stage, wearing a shapeless suit, her hair tidy but unstyled, her face bare, the entire talk would be dismissed because, well, a woman like that--she's probably just jealous, you know?

In my personal life, I've made a point of not having mirrors in my house. I don't wear makeup, and I wear whatever clothing smells ok and covers the relevant bits. But if I'm doing anything that requires the goodwill of others--flying, applying for a job, taking my child to the doctor, asking the butcher to debone my chicken thighs, arguing with my child's school about something--I drag out my eyeliner and my "girl clothes", and, yeah, spend thirty minutes or so pulling my shit together and making myself as "presentable" as I can. Not because I especially want to, but because the potential costs of not doing so are more than I'm willing to pay.
posted by MeghanC at 1:17 AM on October 31, 2013 [130 favorites]


This is one of those areas where I'd like to see where the standards expected of men are raised, rather than those of women lowered.

A society where we all dress in slankets, have bad breath and burp and fart without apology just seems... distasteful.

Habitual body monitoring for all, I say, for all!
posted by modernnomad at 1:57 AM on October 31, 2013 [18 favorites]


We should be climbing things, leaping over things, pushing and pulling things, shaking things, dancing frantically, even if people are looking.

Amen.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 2:07 AM on October 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Subjects are sexual, while objects are sexy.Pop culture sells women and girls a hurtful lie: that their value lies in how sexy they appear to others, and they learn at a very young age that their sexuality is for others. At the same time, being sexual, is stigmatized in women but encouraged in men.

That's an excellent point. I've never seen that distinction made and its so true. I find myself despairing at least once a day about how girls are being brought up in a society where they are expected to be sex objects even more than the one I grew up in, and I can't fathom how we went backwards. I re-watched Twin Peaks recently and what I couldn't get over is that even in the brothel scenes the women were all basically fully dressed. Compare that to TV shows now where you have to look past the naked tits to see the action. And some of those ads in the first link made me feel physically sick. Open for business? Christ.

I disagree with some things, though.
"many of us are addicted to this self-hatred, inspecting our bodies first thing as we hop out of bed to see what sleep has done to our waistline, and habitually monitoring our bodies throughout the day."

Really? Some of us walk a happy line between an image we would like to aspire to and not giving a shit.
Some of us can read trashy magazines and know they're full of crap but enjoy them anyway as mindless entertainment the way we can watch the news and also reality fluff.

"We secretly feel happy when our female friends gain weight. We criticize other women’s hair, clothing, and other appearance choices. We flirt with other women’s boyfriends to get attention, even if we’re not romantically interested in them."
Um, no we don't necessarily, thanks. I wish this wasnt such a common assumption. My experience is that women are actually bloody lovely to each other and I think men love to seize on this "women don't like pretty women, such bitches" fallacy. Head into the bathroom at said party and you might see women - strangers to each other - complimenting each other on outfits, having a laugh, giving unsolicited relationship advice for the good of the sisterhood "dump the bastard, you're too good for him!" etc.

I also hate to be told that my love of cosmetics is anti-feminist, or that I'm being duped by beauty culture and when I wear makeup it's to attract the male gaze. Nope. I love makeup. I knew I was a feminist before my (old skool) mum allowed me to even wear makeup but I still couldn't wait. I love the textures, the colours, the ritual, the time applying it which is my time for me. I actually trained and worked as a makeup artist and I loved it. It's art, to me, but just because its an art normally confined to women, (or gay men etc) it's not valid in its own right. My brain and my makeup bag do not cancel each other out.

Still, interesting stuff and I wish young girls were challenged more about what is expected of them. But what I'd also add is that I think young boys are now starting to face some of the same pressures about body image, so I'm not sure it's good that we all body-monitor. Young men have high rates of anorexia these days too. Boy bands are being presented more sexually. So if you're 13 and you're looking at Men's Health and despairing that the girls want a six-pack, it's no less harmful than the 13 year old girl worrying about a flat chest. We need to teach all kids - all people - to tune out the need to conform to ideals of body perfection as decreed by advertising executives.
posted by billiebee at 2:25 AM on October 31, 2013 [52 favorites]


Some of us can read trashy magazines and know they're full of crap but enjoy them anyway as mindless entertainment the way we can watch the news and also reality fluff.

My own relationship with fashion has improved since I began considering it as a spectator sport.
posted by sukeban at 3:29 AM on October 31, 2013 [12 favorites]


on average the women in this audience have engaged in habitual body monitoring 10 times. That is every 30 seconds.

This is simply not true. The only link in these pieces to such a conclusion is to a 2008 study of "138 European American heterosexual women ranging in age from 40 to 87 years old." The study itself did not determine the percentage and frequency of "habitual body monitoring" in women, but rather assessed the relationship between age, body image, self-objectification, and feminist attitudes in older adult women.

Sure, nobody (women or men) should obsess about appearance. But ... attempting to generalize from this tiny brief study makes me doubt the the conclusions and advocacy here.
posted by miss tea at 4:05 AM on October 31, 2013 [14 favorites]


My daughter, who just turned 6, recently announced that she didn't like Barbie because "Barbie doesn't teach me anything about the world, it only teaches me about being a girly-girl." Which made me want to cheer for her now and weep for what she will run into down the line.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:11 AM on October 31, 2013 [24 favorites]


I read the "habits we should stop" and the "habits we should start" links, and thought maybe I'd gotten them mixed up because I've NEVER done any of the "habits we should stop" and am much more prone to "habits we should start".

But the whole article disregards the fact that this is an outward as well as inward issue. My problem isn't that I'm too hung up on fashion and makeup, the problem is that the rest of the world thinks I should be and is viewing me negatively as a result.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:22 AM on October 31, 2013 [17 favorites]


Yeah, I'm with EmpressCallipygos on this one; I don't really do most of the "don't" stuff (except shouting at my self! I do that all the time!) and it feels a little misdirected to tell me that, almost like (at the risk of being melodramatic) blaming the victim. Telling me that the issue is that I need to stop seeking male attention kind of pisses me off, especially when the issue is in fact that I don't WANT to seek male attention (at least not through how I dress, just through how clever and hilariously funny I am, which is how I try to seek all of my attention) but I have to anyway.

Telling me the problem is that I want male attention and I have to stop that instead of that the problem is that I need to seek male attention to be taken seriously is pretty irritating.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 4:41 AM on October 31, 2013 [12 favorites]


Fun related activity: When a man cat calls you, respond with an extended laugh and declare, “I don’t exist for you!”

"Hello, who's this? Man Cat? I don't exist for you. Please don't call me again."
posted by rory at 4:55 AM on October 31, 2013 [69 favorites]


Fun related activity: When a man cat calls you, respond with an extended laugh and declare, “I don’t exist for you!”

That actually made me laugh. Mainly because she seemed to think that the man in question would be dumbfounded, maybe even angry I'd rewritten the script, as I sauntered off having well and truly put him in his place.

In reality, I imagined him just being confused, emitting a slow "O...kay?" and circling his index finger just above his ear.

But then I imagined my own personal extended laugh to sound like a loud, manic "AHAHAHA" rather than derisive amusement at his expense. Maybe I need to practice. In the meantime I'll just stick with tutting and giving him the evil eye as is traditional.
posted by billiebee at 5:07 AM on October 31, 2013


Honestly, I think dealing with all this is a huge, heartbreaking challenge to women who are attracted to men. Back when I slept with men (I'm attracted to men as well as a range of other genders) it really messed with me. I gave up pursuing men, in fact, because I realized that in order to do so successfully, I had to heavily manage every aspect of my self-presentation in ways that felt incredibly painful and inauthentic. Everything I actually liked about myself, from my comic timing* to my wide shoulders to my taste in shoes to the short haircuts that flatter my enormous head to my scholarly interests, had to be made smaller or hidden in order to succeed with men (and I'm not talking football heroes, either, I'm talking ordinary left-leaning dudes of weedy or pudgy physique). It was a huge relief to stop trying, even though it makes me sad when I meet a guy I like and get tempted to start doing the little dance of fakery in order to get over.

And I add that I do not consider myself primarily attracted to men - I think it would be a much harder situation to deal with if I had no other choice. Men are maybe the gatekeepers to power, but they're also often people you want to love and sleep with, and having to cut off parts of your personality and hide most things about your body in order to do so is very painful.



*Someone recently told me that I have great comic timing - I was shocked, but decided to believe them.
posted by Frowner at 5:33 AM on October 31, 2013 [34 favorites]


But the whole article disregards the fact that this is an outward as well as inward issue. My problem isn't that I'm too hung up on fashion and makeup, the problem is that the rest of the world thinks I should be and is viewing me negatively as a result.

It's true that a list of "Dos" that was directed at men and women both and which told us all to stop judging women based on their makeup, clothes, and hair would be a lot more effective at getting to the root of the problem. Jumping on women for caring about the things that society tells them to care about is just creating a different problem.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:34 AM on October 31, 2013 [7 favorites]


Men are maybe the gatekeepers to power, but they're also often people you want to love and sleep with, and having to cut off parts of your personality and hide most things about your body in order to do so is very painful.

Not for the right ones, you don't. I'm sorry that was your experience and I'm sure that its true for lots of women. But I also know of women who wouldn't date men because they're too short or skinny. I'm a (mostly) man-loving ladyperson with a wobbly ass, a laziness regarding shaving my legs, and a fondness for many a "non-feminine" interest, but I've never come across a man who cared enough to not want to sleep with me or hang out with me. Not to bring out the big generalisations or anything, but men who are worth your time by and large don't care about the stuff we think they care about, and assholes come in all genders.

Again, I don't think it's general men who are the issue per se, as much as the industries that tell them, and us, what we should look like. That we all buy into it is the problem.
posted by billiebee at 5:53 AM on October 31, 2013 [9 favorites]


"Stop Playing the Tapes."

And more importantly, do not play the tapes in front of your daughters.

Seriously, even if I'd never been exposed to mass media, I could have learned everything I needed to know about hating my body just from watching and listening to my mother get dressed and made up in the morning. The self-castigating labor always ended with the gorgeous woman I looked up to sizing herself up in the mirror and sighing, "Well, I guess you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear."

That kind of thing is really hard to unlearn, so even if you really feel it, I think it's a good idea to make sure your daughters don't see it.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:53 AM on October 31, 2013 [47 favorites]


The Underpants Monster consider yourself granted my daily allowance of favourites.
posted by billiebee at 5:57 AM on October 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have long thought that the kind of shit that this article describes must be absolutely exhausting for women. I feel really lucky that as a (white) man I can dress up if I feel like it (and generally get some positive attention for doing so) but that if I just don't have the energy nobody is going to care if I turn up in some faded slacks and a baggy old t-shirt. People will take me at least slightly seriously pretty much regardless of what I'm wearing. Hell, I wore a hot pink beard for about three months and aside from the occasional unsolicited comment (which was of the "damn man, good for you!" persuasion more often than the "woah, what were you thinking?" persuasion) it really didn't seem to affect how much respect I got in my day-to-day interactions. It's a privilege, to be sure.

This actually reminds me a lot of Conspire's excellent comment in the recent thread about status symbols, where he talks about how as a member of an ethnic minority he learned early on that he needed to carefully tailor his outward presentation to match whatever social setting he was going into, in order to be taken seriously and to minimize the amount of stereotyping that he had to endure. It strikes me that this is essentially the same sort of thing that women have to deal with regardless of their ethnicity, and that it's something that is a major part of the life of anyone who is not a member of the dominant straight-white-cisgendered-male class. Or rather, it's something that is a significant part of everyone's life, but the penalties for opting out of this weird little game are much harsher for those who aren't SWCMs.

For my own part, as someone who is a SWCM, I do my best to recognize that the people around me are all complete human beings and that their intelligence, their statements, and their overall value and worthiness of respect and attention really have nothing to do with what they're wearing. I mean sure, I could say "well but if you can't even be bothered to play the game, why should I pay attention to you?" or whatever, but that seems like a pretty lame position to take. For one, it just isn't an outlook that seems to make any kind of logical sense to me. For another, people have all kinds of reasons for not playing the game, and I have no way of knowing what they are for any given person unless they tell me.

One thing that this article has opened up for me though is a realization that I have a bit of a tendency to discount people who do play the game. Particularly with women, I have a sort of unconscious tendency to take someone less seriously if she's presenting as too "mainstream," to think of her as sort of a conformist drone. That's not cool, and I'm going to make an effort going forward to stop doing that. Shit is rough out there for women, and maybe it just makes sense to present however people expect you to present, because life's short and nobody should be expected to make some kind of like revolutionary act out of putting some fabric on their body in the morning. I need to extend my willingness to take people seriously regardless of appearance to more fully include those whose appearance matches whatever the societal norms of the day happen to be.

I appreciate this FPP for waking me up to that. It's helped me take one little step closer to being a truly compassionate person and has perhaps made me just that much better of an ally. Thanks.
posted by Scientist at 6:01 AM on October 31, 2013 [26 favorites]


Oh, I just realized that I spent that entire comment talking about clothing. Obviously the same goes for the entirety of presentation in general -- makeup, hairstyle, body posture, etc. I realize that the presentation game is about more than just dress, though dress is perhaps the most obvious aspect of it. Just wanted to clarify there.
posted by Scientist at 6:07 AM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


I remember teaching freshman rhetoric classes at 8:00 am one semester -- of the 12 young women in the class, 10 of them never showed up in anything less than full makeup and perfectly groomed hair. Three times a week. 8:00 am. For a full semester.
posted by jfwlucy at 6:11 AM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Men are maybe the gatekeepers to power, but they're also often people you want to love and sleep with, and having to cut off parts of your personality and hide most things about your body in order to do so is very painful.

Thisthisthis. Because yeah, maybe in some lefty circles not shaving your legs or armpits is cool, or a few other markers aren't necessary, but most of the world will view it as "you're a slob." Even if they would be receptive when educated, even if once they already love you they won't give a fuck, their attraction meters alter when you present one way and when you present another way.
posted by corb at 7:29 AM on October 31, 2013 [4 favorites]


But that's not confined to women is it? Picture a man in a stained t-shirt with a beer gut, BO and food between his teeth. Now picture him toned and in a nice outfit and smelling of aftershave. Are we really saying women don't judge men on outward appearance too? Slob Boy might be the nicest man on the planet. Are we swearing that he gets an equal shot in both incarnations? I'm certainly not arguing that women don't get judged more harshly, far from it. But we no longer live in a world where men don't get judged at all.
posted by billiebee at 7:38 AM on October 31, 2013 [8 favorites]


I was debating making this a separate post but I think it fits in well here. The linked post talks about being feminine in biology/ecology and how you're often seen as stupider if you wear make-up, heels, etc. Like somehow you can't do science if you can put on make-up (and on preview - Scientist is talking about exactly this attitude).

And I'm sad to see a similar kind of attitude here. I'm with billiebee - I love wearing make-up (though I love sleep more so I never wear it unless I'm going out for dinner or something). Getting to put on heels and a fancy skirt is really fun. Not because it attracts male attention or gets me better service. I'm not sure exactly why I find it fun - I like fabric and texture and seeing the conversion of my self with different shaped clothing and colours. It's like playing around with different characters. I mean, I don't think 'me' in jeans and a t-shirt is more or less authentic than 'me' in a dress. I don't slip on a pair of pajamas and think 'yes, this is exactly who I am'.

I'm in a field like the ones mentioned in the link above where, since I am wearing make-up and a pencil skirt today, I have braced myself for a lot of comments. Mostly from other women. So, I don't care that you're not wearing make-up and you don't like to perform femininity. Fine. I do. It says nothing about my interests otherwise or whether we'd get along. I don't judge you for not knowing how to put on make-up (it's really easy and I could teach you if you wanted!) but don't judge me for spending a year in junior high playing around with drug store make-up instead of reading.

and now I feel like I have to justify even that amount - it was probably less than 1 hour every month and my sister and I would often dress up as silly things (make-up bruises!) and I read constantly so it must have been pretty fun to drag me away from all those books

Guys in my field also like to pride themselves on liking women without make-up. But that's just another way to judge women. Naturally clear skin isn't bestowed on everyone.

Sorry, I have a lot of thoughts about this issue apparently. I will also say that I'm in a very privileged position in society generally, so much so that even at my most anti-society look, I'm still pretty mainstream. I have less privilege in my field (being female in a very male-dominated subfield) and the 'pretty /= smart' thing means that I'm getting two very different messages about my appearance. So fuck 'em, I'm wearing a skirt and make-up. And giant colourful owls on my tights.
posted by hydrobatidae at 7:42 AM on October 31, 2013 [22 favorites]


Oh, billiebee....

Here, take this helmet and body armor. You're going to need it. (It won't help.)
posted by entropicamericana at 7:42 AM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


I will take it anyway. (Does it come in pink?)
posted by billiebee at 7:48 AM on October 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am not wearing a stained t-shirt, I'm showered, I'm wearing deodorant, I've even done my hair, but I'm not wearing makeup, nor have I ever worn makeup, and I routinely get relegated to the same level of "slob" as the guy who couldn't actually bother to find a clean shirt. I get told I "ought to take better care of [my]self" and clucked at. I was told on several times when I was in school that the reason I didn't get callbacks on interviews was that I wore pantsuits, that this was seriously a legitimate reason for women to not get jobs in a professional field.

So, no. The standards are not the same. Not the same at all.
posted by Sequence at 7:50 AM on October 31, 2013 [36 favorites]


I once told my husband that I didn't believe that pop culture led to increased eating disorders, unhealthy self image, etc. He responded that the reason that I think that I'm fat is because I don't look like the people I see on TV or in magazine or movies. The first thought I had in reply was no, I am objectively fat and unattractive.

I've been thinking recently that I need to look a certain way to advance professionally. It's a whole new level of self criticism. Before I made sure to wear a suit when appropriate. Wearing a suit was a check box. Now I worry that my suits aren't nice enough or made out of the right material. And it extends to other things. Before, I would get a manicure before a job interview. I still would now but I also worry that the nail polish isn't the right color or my nails are too short or too long.

This time last year, I was wearing a size 14 in pants. I thought, yikes, I'm almost too heavy for the clothes in this store. If I don't lose weight, I'll have to start shopping in different stores. Are people going to look at me and think that I'm unprofessional because I'm overweight? I don't think I've ever looked at a heavier woman and thought, the fact that she's overweight makes her look unprofessional. But it's been proven that some people think that. I remembered the scene in The Devil Wears Prada when Meryl Streep referred to Anne Hathaway, as a size 6, as a fat girl. If she's a fat girl at size 6, what am I at size 14? I haven't been a size 6 since college.

I'm guessing that some women are more and less neurotic than I am and some men are neurotic as well. But I don't think that men appreciate or realize how exhausting and time-consuming it is worrying about how you look. It's vain but I'm not trying to find a partner or look sexy. I just want to look nice and professional (at least Monday through Friday).

I also worry because I think I want to have kids and I think I want to have a daughter but the idea of unintentionally imparting any of this on her freaks me out. My mother was morbidly obese. We used to go to the beach every summer and I wanted her to come swimming because I loved swimming. She joked that she didn't have a bathing suit because she would need to have one made by Omar the Tent Maker. It made me feel sad because I knew she liked the water but didn't have a bathing suit so that was that.

Sure, men have to deal with this too but it is nowhere near the same. This morning, while getting ready for work, I tweezed a few stray eyebrows, put on acne cream, a facial moisturizer, combed the water out of my hair and dried it with two different towels, put on face powder, blush, eye shadow, eyeliner, mascara, necklace, earrings, and made sure I had a hair tie, in addition to all of the things my husband did to get ready for work.

Sometimes all of this extra work is fun. I like how I look today. And I have anxiety so it's a little different for me. But sometimes I am legit paralyzed in the morning because I can't figure out what to wear and how to get ready. It can feel overwhelming. I've looked in the mirror and thought, people are going to judge me from the moment I leave the house until I return and I can't deal with it. It wears me down.
posted by kat518 at 7:51 AM on October 31, 2013 [6 favorites]


Guys in my field also like to pride themselves on liking women without make-up. But that's just another way to judge women. Naturally clear skin isn't bestowed on everyone.

Yep. And a lot of times when people (not just guys!) mention that women look better without makeup, what they're seeing is usually more like this.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:52 AM on October 31, 2013 [34 favorites]


I don't want to make this a rant on how Men Just Don't Understand but here are tips on achieving the "natural" look. There are eight products involved at a cost of about $192. The first step is "perfecting your skin."
posted by kat518 at 7:57 AM on October 31, 2013 [6 favorites]


The third step in kat518's link is "Conceal any flaws".

/goes looking for a paper bag
posted by casarkos at 7:59 AM on October 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was told on several times when I was in school that the reason I didn't get callbacks on interviews was that I wore pantsuits, that this was seriously a legitimate reason for women to not get jobs in a professional field.

Wow.

Let me just backtrack and say believe me I know it is not the same for men by a longshot, only that we can't say that men are never judged by women.

But I also maybe live somewhere that is not quite as image-obsessed as other places, although sadly it's getting there.
posted by billiebee at 8:01 AM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


billiebee, you remind me that men of color are also required to conform to higher standards of "hygiene", grooming, and dress in order to be taken seriously.

Cologne/scent, in my experience, is just not something that white men care about or feel the need to care about, but "smelling good" is really vital to the Mexican-American men I know who are trying to present themselves "well".
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:11 AM on October 31, 2013 [9 favorites]


I'd like to suggest a "Ritual to Start" for this woman: Quit adding to the pile-on by telling women how to fucking behave.

All I see is yet another person grandstanding to feed their own insecurities by marching to yonder imagined high ground and preaching. I'd like to suggest that the root of the problem is constantly telling women all the ways in which they are broken. How about that?

STFU, lady, and let everyone just be who they fucking are. How we get there is our business. Don't pretend to understand the variety of joys and sorrows we all face.
posted by gsh at 8:35 AM on October 31, 2013 [7 favorites]


You know, regarding makeup, I think it's important to acknowledge that some of the backlash against women who "try too hard" is from other women who would rather not wear makeup all the time. I agree that makeup can be an art form, and that it can be beautiful. I'm also aware, though, that other women wearing makeup is actively detrimental to people like me. Not because you're beautiful and I'm not and that makes things weird, but because women wearing makeup are the majority of women, and every time someone sees one of them, the idea that this is what women look like is reinforced.

If someone goes about their day, and over the course of that day, 95% of the women they see are wearing makeup and have consciously spent time on their appearance, it further normalizes the idea for them that "what women look like" = "makeup, done hair, etc". It means that people who choose not to wear makeup, or who choose not to shave, or whatever other gender performance thing people are not engaging in, is that much more anomalous and stands out that much more. So some of my mild bitterness towards people who wear makeup isn't because I perceive them as [whatever], but rather because I'm aware that their right to make personal choices regarding their appearance makes it more difficult for me to navigate the world making the personal choices that I feel are right for me. It's not their fault, mind, but that doesn't make it less problematic for me.

Your personal choices do not happen in a vacuum. For every person who finds X empowering, there's someone else who finds it demeaning or oppressive, and doing [culturally approved performance of gender], however liberating and fulfilling you find it, contributes to upholding a standard that is then used against other people. I would argue that every single woman in the world is, on a daily basis, doing something that she personally finds fulfilling but also is used against other women. It's a game that's literally impossible to win.

Also, re: judging men: Men do not, as a rule, get told things like "you could be so pretty if only you [lost weight/put on makeup/did your hair]"--nor are they told that they need to do these things if they want "people" to take them seriously. These are all things that I've been told repeatedly, first by parents/teachers and then later by colleagues and bosses. Sure, men get judged for being actively sloppy--stained clothing, BO, etc--but women get judged for presenting themselves in a nice, clean, but not explicitly feminine way.
posted by MeghanC at 8:56 AM on October 31, 2013 [32 favorites]


My life as an American female would have been much different if, as a child and as a teenager, I had internalized the sense that I was *enough* rather than a perpetual suspicion that I wasn't.
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:56 AM on October 31, 2013 [6 favorites]


women get judged for presenting themselves in a nice, clean, but not explicitly feminine way.

Oh, god, yes. And the funny thing is, I really want to be feminine, but I lack the personality or appearance of a lady. I grew up with a very tomboyish mother, which is fine, I can clean a lawnmower and yell at sports on tv with the best of 'em, but that also means that I didn't experiment with clothes or makeup at all until pretty recently (I was mistaken for a boy a lot as a kid). Human female clothes and makeup are a real challenge but I need to master them if I want to be taken seriously.

I find myself often wishing there was a class I could take in performing femininity, because I missed the experimental stage that many girls have in adolescence. It's a huge setback in places where it shouldn't matter, but it does.
posted by troika at 9:07 AM on October 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was hoping that, along with wiping off the makeup, she would have pulled off that wig, stepped out of the heels, closed up the neck of that ruffly blouse and walked off the stage.
posted by Tullyogallaghan at 9:16 AM on October 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


billiebee, your point isn't wrong but it's also not really the subject of discussion here. As I see it, the starting premise for this conversation is something like "while both men and women are judged for their presentation, women are unfairly held to a much higher and more difficult standard, and the consequences to them for not living up to the standard are more severe." Taken from that view, your point above doesn't really advance the discussion -- it just restates the premise and, if one wanted to be uncharitable (which I don't, I'm just pointing out that this may be an interpetation that others might have) could be viewed as espousing a false equivalence between standards of presentation in men and women, and the consequences of violating those standards. No one is arguing that there aren't standards for both genders, just that the female standard is much more difficult and dangerous.

That latter position is what I see as being under discussion here.
posted by Scientist at 9:21 AM on October 31, 2013 [8 favorites]


...but because women wearing makeup are the majority of women, and every time someone sees one of them, the idea that this is what women look like is reinforced. If someone goes about their day, and over the course of that day, 95% of the women they see are wearing makeup and have consciously spent time on their appearance, it further normalizes the idea for them that "what women look like" = "makeup, done hair, etc".

But this isn't true everywhere. It my everyday sphere, I'm in the minority when I wear make-up.

And also, as I said, I look mainstream enough without make-up that people probably think I consciously spend a lot of time on my looks beyond getting a hair cut every year or so.

Judging either way is really unhelpful.
posted by hydrobatidae at 9:23 AM on October 31, 2013 [6 favorites]


Some time back, there was one of those ridiculous "Celebrities without Makeup!" things on the internet featuring a picture of (I think it was) Mila Kunis without makeup on. I think it was on Reddit or something and the caption was something like "You'll never believe who this is!"

I barely know who she is, but I recognized her right away. And it was shocking to me how many people didn't. How many people actually have no idea what women might look like without makeup. Men are especially bad about that in my experience. I've had a dude I know literally fail to recognize me because he showed up unannounced one day when I had the flu. (I almost hope I gave it to him.)

And for humans who live in human societies, it can be very difficult to stop conforming to standards that we've been held to all our lives. For a lot of women, just going out without makeup on is a really scary thing to do, at least at first. So if they need to get mad about it first, and if they need a little encouragement like this, good for that.

That said, I'm a little disturbed by the underlying assumption that I see in a lot of gender related topics that the default male way of doing things is aspirational. Because oh, good grief, no, let's not all start burping and farting and hocking up loogies and taking up too much space and otherwise acting in a totally unselfconscious way out in public.

Some guy did the loogie thing on my lawn just this morning as he was walking by. Where is the TedX Talk telling that guy how to be more ladylike?
posted by ernielundquist at 9:24 AM on October 31, 2013 [12 favorites]


All of this makes me glad that I'm an artist-y person who almost always works from home.

At comics events, I get points for making any effort at all; in my day-to-day, I may get embarrassed to be walking around with a giant pimple on my chin or terrible morning hair, but the cats and my roommate don't actually care very much.

But I'll admit that threads like this one (and the talk about signifiers in this thread from the other day) make me wonder how many opportunities I've lost, how many times I've been looked over, how many interviews and first-impressions I've unknowingly torpedoed, by not being more savvy about fashion and makeup and the secret visual language of I'm Worth Your Attention.

I grew up in a wealthy-ish community in the Northeast and I absorbed many things just by marinating in that culture, but my mom was too busy and too easily distracted to teach me very much about how to present myself (other than Don't Be Fat, Shave Your Legs and Wear Clothes That Fit You) and my tiny group of friends were all giant nerds.

So now I'm a 32-year-old woman who has no idea how to do "natural" makeup and who makes decisions about nylons and stockings entirely based on how cold it is outside.

Usually I'm fine with that, but sometimes I wonder if I'm making my own life harder than it has to be.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 9:34 AM on October 31, 2013 [7 favorites]


No one is arguing that there aren't standards for both genders, just that the female standard is much more difficult and dangerous.

Apologies, and I do agree with that. I suppose I got a bit sidetracked and I really didn't mean to stall the discussion. I guess I see the issue of the sexualisation of young women - the ads in the first link really shocked me, and there are no real equivalents for men - on another level than ideas around "presentation" (clothes etc) which may be slightly more universal. Though of course they are on the same continuum, and the consequences for women not conforming are much harsher.
posted by billiebee at 9:45 AM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Usually I'm fine with that, but sometimes I wonder if I'm making my own life harder than it has to be.

No, you're just choosing for it to be harder in certain ways than in others. Because that presentation you're opting out of is really exhausting and time consuming.
posted by like_a_friend at 9:58 AM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


The makeup thing is interesting. Here in Portland (Maine), I know very few women who wear substantial makeup, or at least anything noticeable, including lipstick. Maybe they wear some sort of foundation, but if so, it's impossible to tell. This includes many female attorneys, business owners, & other professionals. It may be a location-oriented issue?
posted by miss tea at 10:04 AM on October 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


ideas around "presentation" (clothes etc) which may be slightly more universal.

It's really hard to explain the degree to which the typical experiences of men and women (particularly white men) are very different when it comes to the matter of how you present yourself.

My roommate can wake up, run his fingers through his hair, pull on a pair of jeans and a random tee shirt, and stroll out of the house. In that mode, he presents as a handsome and vaguely hipstery thirty-something. If he hasn't shaved in a few days, that actually just makes him look more charmingly roguish. If he puts a jacket on, he's basically good to go for a low-key professional event.

In that exact same outfit, I am at best invisible and at worst kind of a schlub, depending on how carefully I've selected my jeans and tee shirt and how nice my shoes are. Wearing makeup and having taken a little time with my hair will graduate me to "normal-looking woman who's in kind of junky clothes while running errands." If I'm going to an event, particularly a professional event of any kind, it takes me between 45 and 90 minutes to get myself ready. Note that I'm not a particularly fashionable woman and I do not spend much time on makeup.

I can see why all of this might not seem like a huge deal, but knowing that you HAVE to spend an hour getting ready if you want to be taken seriously just....wears on you after a while.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:06 AM on October 31, 2013 [21 favorites]


Funny, I was just having the brain-space conversation with someone. He wistfully began the conversation "The other day I thought 'if I could choose between looks and smarts, which would I choose?'" and, in a moment of revelation, I said "I have had to choose between looks and smarts. They both suck. When I chose smarts I became a lonely social pariah. When I chose looks people became attracted to me but I spent so much time worrying about how I looked that I did not have the CPU to 'waste' on the type of engaging dialogue that I love. For girls, anyway, it's a lose-lose situation."

I hope, against all hope, that we can find a middle-ground because lord knows I do like a boy who cares for his appearance, but I would really prefer to leave a good amount of my hard drive open for information I actually care about.

Also, I am so glad that some external, authoritative voice is verifying what I had, up until now, simply intuited: that the objectification of women has kicked into super-overdrive recently. We very nearly reached a point where third-wave feminism was becoming acceptable, we were *so close* to moving beyond gender, then the big-dog capitalist forces felt their grip slipping and intensified their campaign to anesthetize society against detection of cruelty and subjugation.

Gaaah I'm going to go live on an island.
posted by Mooseli at 10:20 AM on October 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'd like to suggest a "Ritual to Start" for this woman: Quit adding to the pile-on by telling women how to fucking behave.

I am male. Halfway through watching this, I thought, "This is on me."

I don't think she was addressing this only to women, or even to women as a majority of the audience.

I am left with the impression that women cannot solve this problem alone. I think this presenter is pretty smart.
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 10:33 AM on October 31, 2013 [6 favorites]


Maybe they wear some sort of foundation, but if so, it's impossible to tell. This includes many female attorneys, business owners, & other professionals. It may be a location-oriented issue?

There is a big difference between absolutely no makeup, the "no-makeup look," and a full face of evening makeup. The no-makeup look is what many people are wearing, and is basically made up of light foundation and concealer under the eyes, and maybe a little eyebrow pencil to fill in the lighter areas. So if these professional women have a clear-looking complexion and no undereye bags, then they are probably doing the no-makeup look rather than an actual total absence of any makeup.
posted by elizardbits at 10:54 AM on October 31, 2013 [8 favorites]


I think in Maine (I'm in Maine too), they really aren't wearing make-up. Just lip balm.
posted by hydrobatidae at 10:57 AM on October 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wow. I really liked her message. So much so I linked it on my facebook page so my über hetero-normative, slut-shaming sister can see it. :)
posted by luckynerd at 11:05 AM on October 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm fortunate to have relatively clear skin, and I habitually don't wear makeup, or in the winter only wear lip gloss (because my lips get chapped otherwise). Sometimes my skin looks kind of weird (usually if I've slept badly) and then I have this liquid foundation stuff I put on, and that's about it, unless it's a special occasion. Other than checking my skin to see if I "need" foundation or not that day, I don't worry too much about make-up, although I spend what I think of as a lot of time on grooming in other ways (tweezing, shaving, elaborately washing and conditioning and sometimes styling my hair, cutting and filing my nails) - probably about a half hour to an hour a day.

I know for an absolute fact that I have missed career opportunities by opting out of more elaborate presentation, but I just don't have the energy or mindspace for it. Part of it is that I was raised in a culture that was pretty relaxed (Nova Scotia, working in the arts community) and have moved to a culture that is highly staged (Tennessee, working in healthcare), but part of it is just that I can't make myself care, because I have other priorities and I just can't. I get mad about it sometimes, but seriously I have a full-time job and run a business in my spare time, I don't have more than an hour a day to waste on other people's problem with my perfectly tidy and clean self. I resent that I have to spend even that much time. It's so irritating, but there it is.


I find myself often wishing there was a class I could take in performing femininity
posted by troika at 11:07 AM on October 31


There are actually classes! I took two last year from a transwoman who had had to learn this stuff as an adult and was really great about breaking it down and not assuming that we already knew terminology or anything, really, about product. She was at Frolicon, but I'm sure there are other places you can take similar things - I'd look for events that have classes/panels/similar and are likely to attract people interested in costuming. Fashion is really just cosplay anyway.
posted by joannemerriam at 11:58 AM on October 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've been staring at the links in this post, not quite daring to click on them. All I can think is "oh god don't I know it" and "this could mess me up real bad". As a trans woman with loads of passing privilege, but also depression and fatigue that's lasted for decades... this post is like the curtain I've tried very carefully not to look behind.

Maybe later.
posted by tigrrrlily at 12:04 PM on October 31, 2013 [6 favorites]


The slight epression of distaste on some men's faces when they're introduced to me -- when I was a butch woman and not a transman -- was very difficult to live with. It's like being told I'm unworthy of life. And it makes passing as male and the better service I get wearing the same clothes intensely creepy. Can't win.
posted by blnkfrnk at 12:31 PM on October 31, 2013 [15 favorites]


No worries, billiebee! It happens, and I appreciate where you were coming from. I'm glad that you got my point and don't seem to have been offended by it. It may not have translated well into text, but I said it with love. :-)
posted by Scientist at 1:16 PM on October 31, 2013 [2 favorites]



But that's not confined to women is it? Picture a man in a stained t-shirt with a beer gut, BO and food between his teeth. Now picture him toned and in a nice outfit and smelling of aftershave.


I find it really hilarious (or actually, hilariously distressing) that "I don't want to have to do enormous amounts of body maintenance which have to be attended to throughout the day, and I'd prefer not to have to worry that you'll find me unattractively intelligent, and I'd like to be able to have a haircut that I actually like" is pretty much the equivalent of "I'd like to hit on girls while wearing a stained teeshirt and not brushing my teeth".

First off, it does prove my point really well - baseline for women is ten times what it is for men.

Second, I think there's some structural homophobia underlying this. Because listen, billybee, I get over just fine with the ladies. When you're all "well, guys don't like you because you let yourself look ugly", does that mean that lesbians are ugly? (I mean, I don't identify specifically as a lesbian, but...) The general trope is "men need you to do body homework because otherwise you're ugly, if you give up on attracting men that's because you're ugly and women don't care if you're ugly so you can still attract them" - just in case you need it spelled out for you.
posted by Frowner at 1:32 PM on October 31, 2013 [13 favorites]


It's an incredibly frustrating thing. How to speak about my discomfort wearing makeup and other femme stuff and how I am treated differently when I do put those things on without coming across as insulting to those who happily embrace femme accoutrements? The deck is stacked against all of us who have to face these issues.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 1:32 PM on October 31, 2013 [4 favorites]


There is a big difference between absolutely no makeup, the "no-makeup look," and a full face of evening makeup.

Yeah, that was what I meant, as stated:[m]aybe they wear some sort of foundation, but if so, it's impossible to tell.

Many female Mainers, if they wear makeup, probably spend about 1 minute, including the application of concealer and lip balm and/or a light foundation.

That's not what Heldman is referencing. She is referencing circumstances where women feel obligated to wear visible makeup, and stating that such, along with other actions, serve as forms of sexual objectification, a lead-in to mental health issues.

My first comment above related to her point about "habitual body monitoring" and how the reference was incorrect and the study unreliable, undermining her theory as presented.

My second comment was solely an anecdote, subsequently also reiterated by hydrobatidae, supporting a statement that different subcultures within the US may have different standards, based on my experience here in Maine.
posted by miss tea at 1:32 PM on October 31, 2013


When you're all "well, guys don't like you because you let yourself look ugly"

I'm sorry if it seemed like that's what I was saying, because it absolutely wasn't my intention. I was just trying to say that we can't say men are never judged on appearance. But of course the bar is set much higher for women. I'm a cis woman who has had acne and weight issues. I'm aware of the pressures. I just think all men are not The Man. Patriarchy hurts everyone, and all. I also know I go into work some days (ok, often) with unwashed hair and no makeup and yesterday's clothes and neither I nor anyone else there of any gender gives a shit, but maybe I just work in a cool place. I don't think anyone should be judged on their outsides, no matter what they choose to do or not do with them.
posted by billiebee at 1:55 PM on October 31, 2013


Not sure why you're getting defensive when the entire purpose of my comment was to elaborate on the statement you made, not refute it.
posted by elizardbits at 1:58 PM on October 31, 2013


I can see why all of this might not seem like a huge deal, but knowing that you HAVE to spend an hour getting ready if you want to be taken seriously just....wears on you after a while.

Yeah, Narrative Priorities, I think you're totally right about this AND ALSO it sucks that then you've got that gross stereotype of "women are high maintenance and take forever to go anywhere". I don't WANT to take forever to go anywhere! I want to get out of bed and put on a bra so it doesn't hurt when I walk and then leave the house like that (not always, but it'd be nice), but if there's any sort of Event like a job interview or a wedding or an actual work function or whatever, you actually do need to take that long and I hate being stereotyped as high maintenance for doing stuff I don't even want to do!*

*I should note that my husband, who is awesome, never does this and is very understanding and thoughtful, I just mean in a general way. Also, I often DON'T wear makeup or anything because I don't feel like it and I currently have a job where that's not a problem but there are plenty of times I do have to dress up and it's exhausting and it takes forever and it's expensive and stuff smudges and then ha-ha, stupid women, always taking so long to get ready! Those superficial ladies just care so much about how they look but we love 'em anyway, huh?
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 2:03 PM on October 31, 2013 [7 favorites]


For me, it's not even so much about the routine and the makeup and how I present myself as it is being reminded all the time that I'm supposed to be conscious of how others are perceiving me.

I was always a "pretty girl," and as I get older and wiser and funnier and more knowledgeable, I also find that certain people are actually listening to me less, especially when I'm sloppy and busy. There's this look I get sometimes, this, "Ugh, what are you on about?" sort of look, particularly common in young men, that lets me know that people are literally not hearing what I'm saying to them, and at the same time, it lets me know that, back when people did pay attention to me, it wasn't because I was saying something they found interesting or valuable in any way, but because I had sexual capital or something. There have been so many times I've just wanted to say, "Yeah, I don't want to fuck you, either, bro. You still have to get me a pound of provolone."

It's easy enough to say to women, "Yeah, go ahead and do your own thing and be comfortable in your skin," but that sort of thing comes at a cost. Women are regularly dismissed and passed over and ignored and even demeaned when we don't perform femininity to someone else's standards.

So I'm not about to get on women who choose to doll themselves up or those who don't. Hell, I don't have a consistent team myself.

I put the blame on the gender police, not the policed gender. It's on everyone, men and women, to check their behaviors and their attitudes toward women, and start treating all of us with the respect we deserve.
posted by ernielundquist at 2:04 PM on October 31, 2013 [18 favorites]


The unease of performing femininity for me is exactly that--yes people pay more attention to me, but at a cost. I've figured out how to navigate a lot of that, but I would get frustrated with my hetero dude ex because he could not see any of these things. Some of the people he chose to be friends with would treat me this way and when I would express my discomfort to him later, he would dismiss it. And it's something that really cut the core of my being.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 2:24 PM on October 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


That just wasn't clear to me, elizardbits, so I felt I should clarify.
posted by miss tea at 2:40 PM on October 31, 2013


Ah yes, the pernicious "no makeup-look" canard, trotted out every single time this topic arises. Why is it so hard to accept that some women really aren't wearing makeup? Professional women, who get promotions and are powerful and who have partners and get catcalled and are truly only wearing chapstick. Why this insistence that they probably are really, you just can't tell? I don't get it.
posted by goo at 3:45 PM on October 31, 2013 [5 favorites]


If you want to be invisible, don't stop wearing makeup. Instead, get old. I'm in my 60s. I wore little or no makeup when I was young, and have never worn heavy makeup, but when I was in my teens and twenties it was harder to get guys to leave me alone than to attract them. Around my mid-50s (and I'm in great shape, an athlete, and I do wear light makeup) it was as if a switch was flipped. Nothing made it clearer to me that a woman's worth is judged by her performance of youthful femininity than that.

Now, mind you, I don't much mind. I am married, so it's not as if I'm looking. But it's downright goofy.
posted by Peach at 3:58 PM on October 31, 2013 [8 favorites]


If you want to be invisible, don't stop wearing makeup. Instead, get old

God, yeah, nevermind makeup - let us all worship at the altar of Botox and never see another line again! Let's all inject fillers in our face so we may have plump cheeks forever! Terrifying.

Weirdly, the age thing gets ingrained really early. I remember when my sister and I played with Barbies (aged about 7 and 9) we used to spend more time arguing about who got to be the younger character than actually acting out whatever scenario we were planning. Down to "Ok, fine, we're twins - but I'm the youngest one." How sad is that?
posted by billiebee at 4:49 PM on October 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


At the school where I teach, many of the mothers are anxiously Botoxed, dieted, made-up, bleached, enhanced, and chopped . . . and in their anxious, careful girlishness, they look older than I ever have. There's age and then there's age.
posted by Peach at 5:31 PM on October 31, 2013 [5 favorites]


This is the sort of thing that I really don't want to fall into. Yes, I don't get the whole botox/fillers/heavily done up thing. But fuck, do I really want to judge them the same way? The whole damn game is rigged.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 10:57 PM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why this insistence that they probably are really, you just can't tell?

Because the handful of real women who have made it without make-up--and I am sure they exist--are a pittance compared to the tons and tons and tons of women who are wearing some degree of cosmetics. "But it's just a little concealer and lip gloss" is still makeup. "But it's just some tinted moisturizer and some mascara because my eyelashes are so fair" still counts. It's all still time spent in front of the mirror trying to do things to your face to be basically socially respectable that very few men would ever even consider engaging in. It's still a bunch of products that men aren't expected to pay for, and that the overwhelming majority of women feel they have to engage in because so many women who don't are marginalized.

Of course the number's not zero, but they are very few and far between, and that's the problem.
posted by Sequence at 12:51 AM on November 1, 2013 [11 favorites]


It seems to me that the question isn't "Are there women out there who really don't wear makeup?" Of course there are. I'm one of them most of the time; even the hypoallergenic stuff is too much for my sensitive skin to wear it every day. It's only for special occasions.

I think that the relevant question is, do people who say they prefer women to wear no makeup actually know when they're seeing a woman with no makeup and when they aren't?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:06 AM on November 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


You know, it really doesn't take all that long to apply makeup in my experience. I use a toner, cream, tinted moisturizer, eye shadow, eye liner, mascara, blush, and lipstick, and it takes maybe five minutes including washing my face first. But then I also don't wash/blow dry my hair every day. Am I missing something, or should this all take me an hour?
posted by Peach at 4:59 PM on November 1, 2013


I'm the one who trotted out that canard, and 95% of the time I don't wear makeup. Literally, zero product on my face. But I also have a super-quick "no makeup" look that involves brow powder, the lightest mascara formula I can buy, and a sheer lip tint that's a shade or two darker than my lips' natural color. When I do this, I don't look like I'm wearing makeup, but I do look noticeably better: brighter-eyed, less puffy and pasty, more pulled together. With a little extra effort, I can add tinted moisturizer, very subtle and carefully contoured neutral eyeshadow, and some goo to spackle over my pores, and look even more polished while still looking like I'm not wearing makeup.

Part of the reason I don't wear makeup anymore is laziness. But another part of it is that I'd rather present my undone face as the default than put on the minimal makeup that nobody notices until you go without it. The last time I regularly wore subtle makeup, I did get "are you sick?" the day I skipped it.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:47 PM on November 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think that the relevant question is, do people who say they prefer women to wear no makeup actually know when they're seeing a woman with no makeup and when they aren't?

Well, I think the relevant question is more why does it matter? It just reinforces the notion that women need to be painted in order to be taken seriously, even if it is light and subtle, when that is simply not true.
posted by goo at 3:51 AM on November 2, 2013


But that's not confined to women is it? Picture a man in a stained t-shirt with a beer gut, BO and food between his teeth. Now picture him toned and in a nice outfit and smelling of aftershave. Are we really saying women don't judge men on outward appearance too?

I don't know, I see a lot of slobby guys who clearly do not take care of themselves on various levels walking around with gorgeous women who are dressed, groomed, and gymmed to the nines.

I really don't think it's equivalent, at all. I actually think men are encouraged to be casual and low-maintenance and even sloppy. I even think that women are encouraged to be attracted to such men, because the alternative would be "shallow".
posted by Sara C. at 4:48 PM on November 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have always worn foundation and eye liner because people ask me if I am ill when I don't and it hides the psoriasis I have. It turns out I was wearing sunblock as part of that foundation and now I suffer lots less sun damage than many of my friends. As to doing it to get a man to like me, never really occurred to me to do it for that reason (and I have a relatively large bosoms...) The makeup is never more than a 2minute process. As to what society expects, I suppose I have gone along with that because I have clients so I did not want to be a distraction. I never could do the ultimate beauty queen routine like some of my children and friends do before I went out the door...so count me as doing enough to keep society from frowning....does that make me complicit in the sexism?
posted by OhSusannah at 6:44 PM on November 2, 2013


My daughter, who did a stint as a "professional patient" (the people who play-act illnesses as part of a certification test for foreign doctors, to see how well they do the process of diagnosis), used to play someone who is getting, I think, blood clots. The patients are carefully trained to present the correct symptoms, and it is up to the doctor to figure out what is going on. She told me that the days she didn't wear makeup, she was more likely to be diagnosed as being an abused woman.
posted by Peach at 4:47 AM on November 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


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