Girls want to be pretty. Said it! I know, there are some fierce ones who would rather dress up as Spiderman and that's awesome, but I'm talking about the majority of girls who seem to be organically drawn to things covered in pink sparkles. I'm raising three girls who are, well, girly. They want to be princesses. When they get older, they will want to be desirable and attractive. I hope they also will want good careers and will seize all their opportunities. I hope those opportunities exist and their hard work gains them the edge in life. In short, I'd like my daughters to be feminist. Problematic, however, is the insane connotation that feminists are ugly.
No little girl wants to be ugly. Perpetuating the idea that feminists are ugly is a way to keep girls from embracing feminist ideals and thus, from achieving positions of power. I'm afraid the new disturbing message keeping girls from envisioning dynamic futures is, "Men like attractive women. Feminists are not attractive. Be the opposite of feminist. Be pretty. Don't achieve."
Man-hating ugly feminist trope v. the actual, beautiful Sandra Fluke
As I read through a Tumblr gaining in disturbing popularity, Women Against Feminism, I saw a sad picture developing - one where young, beautiful girls and women are disavowing feminism seemingly based on aesthetic implications, while ironically spouting actual feminist principles. Are girls distancing themselves from feminism because they want to be wanted by boys? Because they want to get married and have babies and be pretty and they think they can't have all that if they are feminist? It seems bizarre to me, but I don't get the appeal of Angry Birds either.
Being feminist is not making girls into boys. It's not turning women "into" men. Likewise, when men do "women's work" they are frustrated they don't command as much respect as when they are in a traditionally male role. Why? Because we as a society don't respect work traditionally done by women. When boys are insulted, they are called girls. This is why we need feminism.
Let's celebrate and respect what women do and offer. You run like a girl? Great. That's not an insult. As a matter of fact, doing anything "like a girl" be it making it pink or giving it frills or birthing it out of your body is awesome. Feminism isn't out to shame girls for being girly. Shaming women for inherent women things is (groan, do I have to use this word?) patriarchy.
Of course being pretty or wanted isn't everything in life. I teach that to my girls. Still, feminism has an image problem in attracting these little she people. To the younger generation of girls coming up, it seems to embody unpopularity. Grossness. Hairiness.
Let's straighten this out. Feminists are not angry people who hate men. Feminists are not just ugly women who want revenge on the world. We are people who think women are people. Seriously, have we learned nothing from Beyonce? Pretty and strong is a winning combo.
As a stay-at-home mom myself who is 99% devoted to my family and 1% devoted to eyeliner, I do my best to guide my girls into the best future possible while avoiding the feminist stereotype. I'm not sure I'm enough though. I can't be a one-woman sales pitch for feminism.
I realized this morning I need back up, so I called upon them. Please enjoy this gallery of successful, happy, beautiful feminists. In just two hours I had this gorgeous line-up. Eat your heart out, world.
(If you'd like your happy mug included in this montage, email it to HighGlossChicago@gmail.com. Feel free to tweet this and/or your hot, happy pics using the hashtag #HotFeminists.)
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