I have to admit. Sometimes it’s hard being a feminist. It’s not difficult to proclaim myself a feminist, to learn about it, to believe in it – but it’s something that I have to actively and consciously think about when I make day to day decisions. There is no perfect feminist, but as Bell Hooks emphasizes in her book “Feminism is for Everybody,” there is only one feminism and we all must stand behind it if we are to make real change.
I think I wanted to write this article sharing a few of my struggles and personal set-backs to just have a conversation about it. What is feminism to you? How do you overcome the hardships? How do you work to not conform to incorrect standards in society?
Every morning when I wake up, I’ll spend 30 minutes to an hour doing my makeup. Actually, if you give me an allotted time to get ready, I will take every last second in front of the mirror making myself “pretty.” Some people when you give them time would probably take a longer, more relaxing shower. I’ll instead take quick cold showers and then spend 10 minutes perfecting my eyeliner. I can understand that the idea of putting on makeup and hiding my acne and flaws is just something that I’ve been socially trained to think I need to do. However, it’s my biggest issue trying to break. But the thing is, even though I’m a feminist, I don’t know that I want to break this habit. I love getting dolled up. I love finding the perfect pair of shoes to go with an outfit. I love when a perfect shade of red lipstick makes me feel like I can conquer the world. Each morning, I have to remind myself, though, that I am just contributing to these harsh and stupid societal standards.
Relationships are the big one. I’ve only had one relationship in my life and if you’ve read my other posts pertaining to that, you’ll know that things did not go or end well. It was definitely a trigger to become more involved in feminist dialogue and the greater movement. My problem now, however, is that I’m terrified to be in another relationship. Half of this comes from personal setbacks and problems I’m still dealing with from my last partner, but the rest comes from feminism. Every time I start to like someone, I convince myself that it would be no good. When it comes to love and intimacy, I’m starting to become bitter. I know, “technically,” that there is someone out there for me. but more and more these days it’s seeming like a better prospect to marry my career. I like someone, he’s too patriarchal. I like someone, he wouldn’t let me be independent. I like someone, I can’t trust him with what I have been through. I like someone, his jokes are too inappropriate. And here, unlike my more superficial struggles with makeup, I don’t know the answer. I’m totally lost.
Since I was little, it has been my dream to work in publishing. I love everything about magazines. The glossy pages, the colors, the designs – all of it. Give me a magazine and I can tell you what’s special about it. Want to know the typeface? I love NYLON magazine so much that I’ve studied it cover to cover. I literally know the hexadecimal HTML color codes that NYLON uses in each issue. I’ve spent my whole life preparing for a career in magazines, even this semester interned for Cosmopolitan, but I know that as a feminist I walk a thin line. The morals and ethics are so blurry for me here. I’ve loved my career path long before I was a feminist and it’s not something that I can give up. I don’t want to say that I contribute to something that makes women (or men) feel worse about themselves. I don’t want to say that I am a part of something that upholds strict, patriarchal, ridiculous beliefs. I make exceptions for myself because I know that I would never write something negative like that. But the passion I have for design, and web development, and content strategy makes me still want to be a part of this world. It’s always on my mind. A huge internal struggle.
I know that when I make decisions day to day, I have to be conscientious about the decisions I am making and why I’m making them. I think we all have to make justifications for our actions and figure out what we are comfortable with. In my life, I have been making strides to become more educated on the movement, have a stronger voice for myself, and I’ve connected with others who share the same goals and ideals as me. I am a feminist. But I’m not a perfect feminist. I’m still working on things and for now, I think that’s okay.