Growing up I was a serious tomboy. I thought girls were lame, hated pink, and preferred getting dirty with the boys. By the time puberty was on my doorstep, deep down I wanted to feel pretty, but for whatever reason I felt like wanting to be and feel pretty was a bad thing. Frivolous. High Maintenance. Silly. I wanted my hair to look cute (oh what a struggle with my big, fluffy, untamable curls). I wanted to wear makeup and feel fancy, but I also was afraid that if I wore makeup it would mean that if a boy liked me, he wasn't liking me for ME, but for the made-up version of me. I wanted to wear cute outfits, but they never felt quite right on me, so I stuck to tee shirts, jeans, and skater shoes all through high school.
It wasn't until college that I was able to slough off all that weird baggage and start to enjoy expressing myself visually. I fell in love with Amy Winehouse and rocked giant winged eyeliner and beehive hair. I had a David Lee Roth Phase and teased my hair out and wore shiny spandex to class. Playing around with hair, makeup, and style became fun.
Growing up in a church I got the message that if I wore a bunch of makeup, dyed my hair crazy colors, got tattoos, or even dressed a certain way, that I was rejecting the body that God perfectly designed for me. Along the way I realized that inside the body God made for me, he made a brain for me too and that brain is creative and independent and that I have ownership of my body and I get to decide what I want to do with it. While I don't ascribe to organized religion anymore, sometimes I still feel like certain parts of traditional femininity (having fun with makeup, wanting to feel beautiful, etc) are frivolous and not worth pursuing. I have a lingering sense of shame when I put on fancy-ish makeup (i.e. more than just fixing yesterday's smudged eyeliner) for a day where I'm probably not going to leave the house. The inner monologue tells me that it's silly to want to feel pretty for myself, and the underlying message there is that my beauty is only for other people's enjoyment.
And that's bullshit. My beauty is for my enjoyment. I have to live in this body every day for the rest of my life so I can damn well enjoy the hell out of it while I can. I can put on fake lashes when all I'm doing all day is going to the grocery store to pick up toilet paper. I can dye my hair green and get a full sleeve of tattoos. And I don't care anymore what other people think is acceptably beautiful because they don't have to look in the mirror and see my face, my body every day. I do. I don't care if some men think women who have lots of tattoos are gross. I think they are beautiful. I don't care if people are put off by crazy colored hair. I think it's fun and pretty.
No one else gets to infiltrate my mind with expectations of how I should look or be. No one gets to tell me feeling beautiful is frivolous and that things that are traditionally feminine are less valuable than traditionally masculine things. I'm so over the insidious misogynistic messages that tell women that things they like are stupid or petty. Put the makeup on. Do your hair. Wear the outfit. And then go out and run the world-- whether that's your family, your business, your schoolwork, your hobbies, your relationships. Whatever. Don't let anyone tell you you can't. #whoruntheworld #girls