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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

Help me articulate my reasons for New Year's Resolution

20 replies

MountainDew · 05/01/2011 13:48

Hello,

My New Years Resolution is to stop 'preening'. No shaving, plucking, waxing etc. No make up. Just soap, shampoo and Vasaline for my poor dried out lips.

I am doing this because:
a)Why shouldn't I? I am 24 and have never seen myself in a 'natural state'.
b) I think preening is ridiculous really. It feels sexist and anti-woman. Like I have no worth unless I look right.
c) I am beautiful in many ways, and don't need to conform to a prescribed idea of beauty.

As you can see my reasoning is not well worded!

Everyone I tell pulls faces and says 'but WHY??!!', immediately followed by 'what does DP think!??'.

What does it matter what he thinks!!??

I feel like I need to be able to explain my feelings better.

I say 'there is pressure for women to look a certain way. I don't want to look like that.'
Responses:

There is no pressure! Women choose to look that way because it is nicer. Just choose it too. Go on. Choose to look the same. No pressure, but if you dont then you won't look nice. No one likes people who don't look nice. Go on. It's not pressure. (etc etc)

or

Ewww. That's minging. I don't want to see your armpit/leg/pubic hair. What if my child sees it and asks me what it is?! (this was an online response I saw, not a rl one! But it made me laugh it is SO idiotic.)


The biggest issue is I am a bridesmaid later in the year. Mwahahaaa. My friend (bride) is unlikely to take it well. I haven't told her yet. It will be a big challenege to me to stick to my values in the face of bridemaid related pressure. I am looking forard to it, in an evil kind of way. Grin Not big on weddings.

So any advice? I am new to having my own mind! Becoing a mother has changed me a lot! How do you deal with ignorance and nastiness?

Thanks!

OP posts:
singingcat · 05/01/2011 13:53

Your reasons are fine as they are and you can do what you want, but it seems like you are expecting people to agree with you or back you up. Well, most won't (in RL, not on here). The idea of how women should look is very deeply ingrained and you will probably get negative comments. People can be very cruel to those who don't conform.

Also, it sounds like you don't really want to be a bridesmaid and are looking forward to scuppering things, so maybe you should tell your friend to find someone else.

Consuela39 · 05/01/2011 13:54

Mountaindew,

though I am not much of a preener myself and have little time for plucking or shaving, I feel that your friends' responses are more relevant to the motives you are displaying for this act than for the act itself.

If you can see what I mean, you are doing it deliberately and actively rather than passively without a fuss. You are making it clear that you will do this no matter what others think, so it comes across as rather aggressive.

If you just did it without making such a hoo ha about it, I doubt anyone would even notice. But you are making such an issue of it, so they may feel attacked, or as though you are angry with them/your boyfriend in order to make such a big deal of it, and thus wonder what they/he has done to upset you and what he thinks about it.

Do you see what I mean? I have never made much of a thing over it, not since I was 14 or so anyway, and nobody has commented on it becasue really it's fairly normal on the spectrum of disorderly grooming, not to take that much care over shaving your legs.

I don't wear make up either apart from a bit of blusher so I don't look dead.

Consuela39 · 05/01/2011 13:55

Yes and quit the bridesmaid job NOW or yes, she will get upset with you for seemingly enjoying making an example of yourself.

That part of the plan is just being a tit tbh.

Consuela39 · 05/01/2011 14:03

Sorry, that was a bit rude of me - I'm sure you never thought about it as being anything other than a bit renegade.

I'm talking to my teenage self here though, you must understand - my brand of militant feminism was misguided and the antithesis of the values I really wanted to hold.

Someone pointed out to me that it was not a crime to wear make up and groom oneself, and it really was a revelation to me that I was actually coming across as not a very pleasant person by judging others on what was to them a routine and ritual they had been brought up with and which hurt no one.

You can make your own clear choices without upsetting people, if you go about it in the right way.

Good luck.

dittany · 05/01/2011 14:25

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Mumi · 05/01/2011 14:28

You'll still "conform to a prescribed idea of beauty" - just one prescribed by yourself, not others.

Plenty of people "preen" themselves in ways they know and accept others will dislike. It does sound as if you'll enjoy being challenged for stopping while at the same time enjoying challenging others for carrying on.

Why do you feel the need to make it a new year's resolution? Do you think it is something you'd find difficult to do otherwise?

What do you think about men using anything beyond shampoo, soap and lip balm?

Consuela39 · 05/01/2011 14:29

That's true Dittany. It does make people think. I just reckon it's important not to present yourself in a bad light at the same time because that can be really counterproductive to the cause - which I am in favour of, though I don't give it a lot of thought in everyday life. I just don't bother with make up etc, iyswim - I don't see it as a campaign.

dittany · 05/01/2011 14:33

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MountainDew · 05/01/2011 14:47

Thanks for the responses. :)

You are right to point out that I shouldnt be
aggressive or militant about it. Like I say I am new to having an opinion. Wink

I haven't been going round shouting about it. Just when people have asked if I have any resolutions I have told them.

I'm not angry about anything either, but I appriciate that online things can come across that way...



Mumi - it is a resolution for that exact reason. This is very unlike me, and I will find it hard to stick to. I am doing it for the challenge - like you say to challenge myself and others. But I don't think everyone should do it! I just want to myself. I think men can do whatever they want, but there isn't the same kind of pressure on them to HAVE to. My oh uses more than just soap etc, that's his choice.

Re the bridesmaid thing - I don't want to do it anyway. This is a massive separate issue-I don't know what to do about it. I need to just tell her I am quitting. Ok. I am being a tit. Bah. Thanks for the reality check guys.

(I hate writing on boards sometimes, I feel so exposed! Thanks for being constructive and supportive, and honest. Thanks for the book recommendation dittany . I will take a look.)

OP posts:
MountainDew · 05/01/2011 14:51

And thanks for saying I am doing something powerful dittany. That is the intention really. I don't want to make people feel attacked, but I do want to attack their opinion iysim. Challenge. Not attack. Challenge.:)

OP posts:
FakePlasticTrees · 05/01/2011 15:02

Tell your friend you don't want to be a formal bridesmaid, but if she needs help on the day/run up to the wedding, you are happy to help out (assuming you are)

Perhaps when you are saying "there's pressure to look a certain way, i don't want to look that way" other woman hear "I don't want to look like you, there's something wrong with the way you look".

Anyway, it's 5th January, give it another week and people won't ask you about your new years resolution, then it'll be comments if peole notice you're not doing X, Y, & Z, you can just say "I dont bother with that." After that, they might ask you 'why' and you can go back with 'why not?' they then have to justify their position. If it's that they consider it to be ugly/unfeminine, you can say you don't agree, you love your appearance etc.

Mumi · 05/01/2011 15:03

By "more than soap/shampoo/lip balm" I would include removing facial hair, and I seem to know more men than women who follow through on any pressure - perceived or otherwise - to remove it (obviously they're very different kinds of hair but it's the closest similarity I can think of).
I have no idea if the decisions of those I know are generally representative though.

I've no problem with making as much of a song and dance about it as you like, as is your right. I just wonder whether it's more effective to quietly get on with it and, when people may eventually notice you've been doing this for some time, for them to realise the sky hasn't fallen down as a result Grin but then I don't usually discuss my personal maintenance choices as it's no-one else's business, which I feel is a key message in itself.

alexpolismum · 05/01/2011 16:16

MountainDew - I am always like what you describe. I never wear make up, I do not remove pubic hair. And guess what, I was bridesmaid for my sister in my hairy state when I was about 22. (Am in my 30s now)

My sister chose floor length dresses anyway for the bridesmaids, but I don't think it had anything to do with a desire to hide my leghair - that's her sort of style anyway. My armpits were fully visible though, and you know what? Nobody cared. Why would they.

If people ask me about it, I turn it back on them, eg
"Why don't you shave your legs?"
"Why do you do it? I like my hair."

"Why don't you wear make up?"
"Why do you wear it? / Why would I want to?"
"To look beautiful/attractive."
"Are you trying to say I'm not beautiful/ attractive?"

"What does you DH think about it?"
"I'm sure he thinks the same as I think about his failure to shave his legs/ wear makeup. Does your DH not love you just as you are?"

JessinAvalon · 05/01/2011 21:29

I have to say that I'm quite impressed with your resolution, Mountain Dew! I consider myself to be a mouthy feminist and yet I conform to the preening. I find myself even putting on makeup sometimes to walk the dog, to my shame! Although I do try to give myself at least one makeup free day at the weekend.

I feel that it's a confidence thing with me. The one time I didn't wear makeup to work I got asked by a number of people if I was ok because I looked ill...! I do try not to wear it if I'm just going shopping at the weekend though.

I do find it a bit odd that women are expected (and I confess that I am guilty of judging other women for this) to slap a load of gunk on their face every day and yet men are not 'allowed' to do this at all. It is considered totally unmasculine to wear any type of makeup and unfeminine to not wear any. However, guys I know don't seem to care if a woman is wearing makeup or not anyway. So as for where the pressure is coming from...I think we are indoctrinated by the industry and then end up judging each other. (This is why I hate glossy magazines and newspapers like The Times which constantly feature articles about how to make yourself look better - if you are a woman.)

I realised a while back that people I know who don't wear makeup and don't even think about it (which I find a little odd, in my little world of having to wear eyeliner to take the dog out) are more feminist in a way than I am as I am conforming to a very narrow image of feminity with my long, straightened hair, high heels and made up face. I'm not sure quite what to do about this but it definitely made me think more about how notions of gender are socially constructed. Apparently a few centuries ago it was men who wore the fancy clothes, the make up and the wigs - like peacocks to impress the peahens!

I guessed that you were giving the response to people who asked you about your NY resolution. As for the bridesmaid thing...I'm with you on this one although it is going to be difficult to pull out of it, I imagine. Sometimes we just have to do things we don't want to do.

AlexPolisMum - love your responses!

roseability · 06/01/2011 14:05

MountainDew why don't you write a blog about your experiences? People's reaction to your lack of grooming female and male etc? How it makes you feel?

snowflake69 · 06/01/2011 14:10

I wear mascara and eyeliner some days but not that frequently. I never shave my legs/pubes etc. I have never shaved my legs in my life.

I use conditioner/shampoo and only straighten or use a hair dryer on my hair on nights out. That is all all I do, and I peronally (in a non modest way soz) think I look lush all the time.

I dont think I need all that stuff to look pretty. That isnt a new years resolution either I have always thought that.

wukter · 06/01/2011 14:13

Most people don't think they look great au naturel though Snowflake. They think they need all the help they can get. If you didn't think you were naturally pretty or you had heavy dark hair on your legs would you do all that stuff, do you think?

snowflake69 · 06/01/2011 14:18

No cause I met my husband with a yellow swimming cap on my head, I was in the forces and was covered in camoflage cream, had bogeys streaming down my face from CS gas testing etc. That was the first few times we met. I just talked to him and he couldnt get enough.

I was always like that and always have been. I just think people will like cause once they get to know me they will love me, and they nearly always do. I dont think stuff like that is important and I dont need it personally.

It has served me quite well thinking like that I have always had friends, boyfriends, my husband loves it about me, cause I dont care and he thinks that is the most attractive thing about me, and told me so when we met.

Also my leg hair is quite light but it is loooonnggg and I mean long lol. I just make a joke of it Wink

alexpolismum · 06/01/2011 19:56

wukter - I also think I look gorgeous au naturel. I know I am a stunning beauty, why would I wear make up? And I have very dark hair on my legs (think mediterranean looking). I don't see why that would detract from my beauty? I have heard women say they want to look attractive to the opposite sex, but men aren't one homogenous group. I have been married for a while now, but long before I met my DH, I never had any trouble finding partners. None of them were remotely interested in how much hair I had on my legs.

wukter · 07/01/2011 20:54

That's a great outlook to have.
Unfortunately not many girls and women are as confident as you, I don't think. Thinking of my sister and closest friends here as well as women in general.

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