This one's for the girls
The world of beauty, through the looking glass
Two weeks ago, on that hallowed Monday night before the first day of classes, I found myself pondering a question which has plagued many an intelligent, modern female Cavalier: “What will this outfit say about me?” After all, we’d be lying to ourselves if we said that our “first day” outfits weren’t still a priority.
While I’m certain males, particularly those at our university, experience some of the same insecurities about their appearances, no one can deny girls are forced into a much harsher spotlight. The media, the University, the men themselves and even our fellow women hold us to higher expectations.
We’ve been taught that our primary duties are to accommodate and impress — and despite recent decades’ efforts to demolish this way of thinking, an internal desire to appear visually appealing remains hidden, however deeply, within every woman. It’s an age-old problem for every female: we strive to look good, but we shudder at the thought of anyone discovering us in the attempt.
But attempt we do — with a little help from Sally Hansen, Charlotte Russe and those saintly beings at Victoria’s Secret. Many girls spend at least $20 every month on the perfect makeup that will give them that effortlessly cool blend of suggestive and classy.
And our clothes? How much do we shell out monthly in order to maintain an updated representation of how society defines “femininity?” Take, for instance, the recently lauded blazer — a piece the fashion world has convinced us will remind men we are both their equals AND attractive objects of sexual desire. I’ll be the first to admit I have bought this load of crap society sells to us — just like I bought $30 worth of half-price blazers online mere hours ago.
Worse than our makeup and clothing woes, though, is the fact that girls are collectively required to find every square millimeter of hair on their bodies and tweeze, shave or wax it immediately. Why can’t we just be a little hairy? What is so wrong with hair?
In the words of dearly departed Ned Stark, “Winter is coming.” It’s about to get real cold up in this city, and, speaking as someone whose internal temperature is always 97.6 degrees, I would appreciate every little bit of extra warmth I can get. Thank God for Lily’s Collins, because my Fangorn Forest eyebrows are finally starting to resemble normal.
So, let us recap: I’m running out of money because I spend so much on beauty products, I have razor burn on the back of my thigh and my internal compass is more off-kilter than Jack Sparrow’s in the “Pirates” sequel. Why? Because not getting dolled up makes me feel like less of a woman to men, but dolling myself up expressly for the purpose of impressing men makes me feel like less of a woman in general. It makes me feel like I’m betraying the thousands of women who burned their bras and walked in parades in the name of feminism.
All this brings us back to the Monday before the first day of classes. I spent at least an hour picking out the perfect skirt, whose perfectly pretty blue flowers matched the perfect little necklace I’d wear over my perfectly tight — but not too revealing — lace camisole.
But that first Tuesday, I didn’t wear the outfit I’d decided on the night before. Instead, I woke up and threw on the first tank top and shorts I saw. And the world did not end. In those 40 minutes before my Media Studies lecture, brewing a cup of coffee became my unequivocal priority, not the state of my dress.
There are so many more important things than being beautiful. I don’t want to solely impress people with my looks. I want to impress them because I got an A in that really difficult class, or because I always pick up litter on the street, or because I can eat 1.8 pizzas without feeling sick.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look beautiful, but we shouldn’t do it to impress that unbelievably fine guy who sits behind us in our lecture. Don’t do it to impress him. Do it to impress yourself.
Be more than your skirt. Be more than your eyebrows and your perfectly coifed hair and your silly, overpriced shoes. Be more than the mirror. Be what is actually standing — imperfections and all — in front of it.