Sunday, May 18, 2014

OPRESSED BY A LIPSTICK, PRESSED POWDER, AND SMOKY EYESHASDOW PALETTE




I’m mostly comfortable with my position of the Counseling, Adult, and Higher Education Department’s pain in the ass, but as a very social person who puts a great deal of importance on friendships and community, I’m also trying (believe me or not) to choose my battles and not be a pain in the ass about EVERYTHING. Just about things that are, you know, important (to me, anyway).

Which is why I restrained myself from commenting on an article shared a while ago by a classmate on Facebook, because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings and figured that I will have plenty of opportunities in the future to let the world how I feel about the subject.

I swear that by now I forgot both who wrote it and who shared it. It didn’t annoy as much as amused me, because the title promised a fight against the oppression of women in our country, yet when I clicked on it, it was all about Target. Long story short, the author went shopping to Target, noticed some ads in the cosmetics department, and got struck by an epiphany: The cosmetics department in Target was “the most oppressive” place for women that can be! The rest of the article was dedicated to planning how to fight this terrible form of oppression.

Well. I might have mentioned in some of my previous columns that one of the reasons why gender equality is an area where I’m at odds with not only most of my classmates but even some of our professors (as much as I normally adore them) is that my operational definition of the word “oppression” tends to differ from the counseling majority. You see, when I hear the term “oppression of women,” I tend to picture trivial events like, say, the abduction of 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria; while multiculturally sensitive counselors focus on the real shit, like for example cosmetics ads that oppress women by sending the message that women are supposed be pretty. And we all know that wanting to be pretty is a big no-no, because it makes us chicks sexual objects!

Ugh. Well, I didn’t comment on the article but the thoughts hasn’t left my brain; when I was thinking about what to write about this weekend, it all came back to me (quite possible because I visited Ulta a couple of days ago and allowed the society to oppress me by buying a new lip gloss).
But I didn’t save the link to the original article, which was a bummer. Frustrated, I went on-line and out of curiosity typed into my search engine “cosmetics ads are oppressive.” Well, let’s just say that I got more than I wished for…

It’s not that I can’t see why makeup could become a symbol of oppression for many chicks out there! It totally can – just like everything else. I spent most of my adult life on frozen dinners and/or tomato salads because I categorically refused to learn how to cook. Based on my experience when I was growing up, cooking was what housewives did and I felt obligated to convince everybody, myself included, that I would better be dead than a housewife. Cooking became a symbol of oppression and it took me several years to reach the conclusion that I could be an independent, liberated, strong woman and still cook for myself – and even for my boyfriend every now and then, back when I still had one!

I believe that the whole fuss about cosmetics is based on the same principle. If a woman decides that she is tired of the pressure to look beautified at all times and quits, I’m the first one to applaud her. However, once she decides that her experience is so empowering that ALL WOMEN should start following in her footsteps, we have a problem.

For example this aquaeyes77 chick, who feels so strongly about the whole business that she named her article “Makeup is Opression - End of Story” (just in case you were thinking about arguing with her), and who is not shy with using the plural: Makeup is an addiction fed on insecurity – we keep buying and wearing because we get used to our "makeup face" and begin to think the way we look without out it on is inferior to the way we look in dolled up form. Which is mentally unhealthy when you think about it - we're rejecting our true appearance.”

Why does she feel the need to apply her experience to ALL female population is beyond me, but that’s humankind for you – always full of mysteries. P. S. I don’t believe that my naked face is “inferior” to my made-up one, but guess what? I still like using makeup and having fun with it!

Seriously, people, why is it necessary always make such a cultural war out of everything?! Last time when I was in Target, I didn’t notice a guy with a machine gun patrolling the premises and threatening to shoot every woman who doesn’t purchase at least one cosmetic product! Yes, the ads are stupid, but that’s advertisement: Ads for cosmetics try to convince you that you will be more beautiful if you buy the product, just like ads for Honda Accord Coupe try to persuade you that you would be way cooler in this car than in any other, and ads for Viagra – well, you get the message. That’s what advertising does! I’m not saying that I don’t get irritated by it (in fact, commercials are the main reason why I haven’t had a TV for most of my adult life and intend to keep it that way), but neither do I feel the need to make a bigger deal out of it than it deserves. Or do you, dear reader, truly believe that our society doesn’t have bigger issues than whether chicks should be allowed to decide for themselves whether they want to wear lipstick?!

This is how I see it: If you don’t like it, don’t wear it! End of story.



10 comments:

Luke T. said...

My internet "friends" often refer to these types as modern day puritans. They have a strict morality which they want to impose on the rest of us. They are much more dangerous, because they have more power, than your average religious politician.

Global Chick said...

Well, I'm not entirely sure how to measure THAT (I would say that it sort of depends WHERE you are, maybe?), but overall, I agree! Every form of zealotry is dangerous (or at least really, really annoying). The world would be SO much better if people just learned to live and let live...

Luke T. said...

The left in America is driven by these types. The right merely pays lip service to those people.

theexfundie said...

I see it from both sides. I agree women shouldn't be telling other women not to wear make up.

But, I also understand the girl's epiphany. Advertisements aside, society as a whole does tell women that it is their responsibility to look a certain way and if they don't, they are not valuable.

No, it's not as oppressing as someone that is forced to buy lipsticks by threat of machine guns. But, it is still telling women that they should be a certain way, which is oppressing because it teaches women that it is wrong to have any indivduality.

I am one of those women that almost completely refuses to wear make up. I say almost because I do wear it a few times a year for special occasions..so I am a hypocrite in that regard. But, I have received a lot of comments from people on that, basically telling me that I should wear make up, or informing me that I don't wear make up because I have a low self esteem and don't feel like I have enough value to look pretty...wtf?

Global Chick said...

Well, that's not okay in my books either! And I'm very glad that you shared this, Theexfundie, because I was going to attack the assumption "the society is telling women that they should be a certain way," in one of my next posts because I happen to have many female friends who never wear makeup and eschew fashion, and never seem to have ANY issues over it. So I was getting to the conclusion that maybe it's not so much the society, but something women BELIEVE it's true... But now when you are telling me that you actually had negative feedback like that, I need to reconsider! P.S. So let me get this straight: If I DO use makeup, it's a sign of low self-esteem, and if you DON'T use makeup, it's also sign of low self-esteem!? Yes, WTF seems to be the appropriate response...

Luke T. said...

Using the word "oppressing" to describe marketing appears either disingenuous or ignorant. The word implies force. Using it to describe people sharing unsolicited opinions is not much better and simply distorts the meaning of the word. Oppression is the cops telling Rosa Parks to get to the back or go to jail. It is not some jerk telling you you would look pretty in make up and why don't you want to look pretty. Jerks are not oppressors. People who lump this behavior in with oppression often want to move on to prosecuting "oppressors." This is why I mentioned the sway this crowd holds over the left.

Luke T. said...

Sorry Margaret for the multipost.

Global Chick said...

No problem, Luke, I got rid of it! And yes, I agree completely. I'm starting to have a problem with people who are throwing around the word "oppression" so often that they basically devalue its true meaning. (It's partially the reason why I stopped identifying myself as a feminist, because I got tired of them to convince me how "oppressed" I was.) While on personal level I sympathize with Theexfundie, because I can imagine how people poking their noses into her personal business would be irritating, I still can't quite bring myself to perceive it as "oppression," leave alone "war on women" on general level.

Roy said...

A sense of perspective is undervalued as a reasoning or problem solving technique, and its every bit as important as analytical and creative skills.

Your article provides an excellent description of how batty (lipstick ads as oppression) some thinking can get without a proper sense of perspective. The good thing is that keeping things in perspective is a skill, a skill that any of us can work on and improve.

Global Chick said...

Roy - very true! Except that I have a suspicion that most people don't feel the need to improve their keeping-things-in-perspective skills...