I am someone who, since a young age, LOVED being very feminine, and a “girly-girl”, if you will. I love make-up, I love clothes, and I LOVE style. Home videos of a four-year-old me show me trying on lipstick and high-heels! Unfortunately, make-up and certain clothes can cause stares, rolling eyes, and snickers, from both men and women. In some cultures, like mine, this means that a girl should restrict herself, and hide her personality from the world in order to dodge those “bad glares”.
My parents are from the Middle East. Slut-shaming is very engrained not only to their society, but ours in the United States as well. “Oh my god she has a face full of make up and her legs are showing, she must be seeking attention from a man.” Absolutely NOT! If one wanted to wear a full face up make-up, or a crop-top, we should be allowed to do so without judgement and harassment! We are not living in the 1700’s anymore…. we can show a little skin if we want! Crop tops and booty shorts should not be the type of clothing associated with being a “slut” or “whore”.
In our society, judging can come from a source of jealousy, insecurity, and competition from both men and women. With the rise of social media, our society tends to judge women very harshly based on appearances. In my parents’ cultures, this is simply not the case. The judgement of women is mostly originated from men, in particular, dads and husbands. A women must be covered up head to toe, meanwhile a man can have fun with 10 wives??? I do not mean to get into politics, religion, or offend anyone, because I respect all people and all cultures. I am simply describing the reality that my parents grew up in, and the thoughts that were engraved into their heads.
When I was fourteen years old and freshly entered in high-school, my “girliness” became obvious to my parents, and other family members. I would go to school, and go to family events in short skirts, lots of make-up, and high-heels! No.. not because I am a SLUT, because I am a women and I can do what I want and wear what I want!
Unfortunately, my family did not agree with this and I was the victim of dirty looks and comments like “pull that shirt up!” and “don’t wear so much make-up, you look old and improper!”. This led to one of the longest conversations of my life. It was with my uncle, seven years ago, and it lasted from eight o’clock at night to three o’clock in the morning. My uncle blabbered on and on about how I should not wear short skirts or make-up, as these “acts” will attract men and boys, and god forbid I talk to any men or boys, I will be a slut…….
Let’s dive in a little deeper….
My family’s cultures have taught them that a woman is NOT respectable, unless she is fully clothed (no skin showing!) and only in relations with one man her entire life…(her husband!) God forbid a women has a boyfriend..or two.. or wear a skirt! She would be frowned upon by society FOREVER. Sounds like a joke, right?! That is the saddest part… this is the reality.
The roots of these issues lead back to sexism in the Middle East. The Middle Eastern world has a problem of misogyny. Culturally engrained sexism is existent and REAL. A woman cannot attend public events, such as soccer games, or even go to school in some cases. This is why many women try to flee Middle Eastern countries in hopes of a better life. This could honestly be a whole other topic for discussion.
For years and years, I lived with the thoughts my uncle engraved in my mind. I always covered myself up, did not wear make-up, and really started to hide my true self from the world to make my family happy. It was not until I came to college and began to find myself again. I met a world of new people, and took women and gender classes that opened up my eyes to the root of my family saying these things to me… sexism and inequality.
Luckily, for me, I was able to go home and express my new learnings to my parents. I opened their eyes up to a new world as well. My parents were very open-minded with the information I brought home to them. My parents now hate sexism as much as I do.. if not more! They yearn to see a change back home and equality between men and women.
Women are considered “sluts” if we engage in casual sex. Hooking up with a guy now and then, and wearing clothes and make-up does not make you a bad person, it makes you human. To sum things up, there is NOTHING wrong with women making their own decisions and living their lives the way that they want. Women should be allowed to feel comfortable in any society, without judgement.