I need to firstly to point out I am not ripping off the divine and frankly goddess like being that is Caitlin Moran. This woman, who I’ll admit have recently fallen in lust with (not in a sexual way – but in the “I’d like to sit down with a pint and have a natter with” way) is possibly my new heroine. She talks sense, proper grown up sense and after laughing my way through her book, I’ve been recommending it to all my girlfriends, whether they want to hear it or not. If I had my way, “How to be a woman” should be taught to all girls as soon as they hit 11 years old and start to become aware of their burgeoning bodies (not to mention spending power).
I’ve never been what could be termed as a “girly” girl – I was never enamoured with the colour pink, it was forbidden for me to wear make up until I was about 16, I had to get good grades in my GCSE’s before I could have my ears pierced and as for wearing skirts and/or dresses – did my standard issue rolled up school skirt count? I didn’t think so. As I went through puberty I realised I was not like most girls my age. I wasn’t interested in make up although I had a bizarre and incongruous addiction to nail polish. I didn’t want to wear girlie clothes and was happiest mucking about in a pair of leggings and a t-shirt, preferably surrounded by horses. For that I think my parents were quite relieved.
Things really haven’t changed much in terms of my preferred attire and if I didn’t have to work to pay the rent then I’d still be happier if I was in leggings and mucking out some horses…but I digress. As girls grow up and eventually into women we are sold more and more what it is to be a woman. A woman, apparently, must be sold beauty, must be sold “thin”, must be sold hairless and above all must never ever be sold “natural”. Apparently, being unmade up when you pop to the shops for a pint of milk is something that one should be ashamed of, because god forbid you bump into someone you went to school with, or the neighbour or worse an object of an insane lust who probably doesn’t even know you exist.
After a conversation with some friends around the subject of the beauty routine in the morning and being told that I was “butch” (incidentally, I’m not – I’m barely able to call myself a tomboy) by one of the said friend’s Greek fiancé, I was a bit irked. Was I really not feminine because I am happy and comfortable to throw on a t-shirt and pair of cords to take a walk over to see my friends? I had been for a short but hard and fast run just before so I threw myself in the shower and scrubbed up, washed my hair and was clean and sweet (not sweat) smelling. My hair is naturally wavy/curly and it was warm so why bother blow drying and straightening it? I don’t know…but either way I felt good. I’m very much all woman; hips and breasts, a bum that I’ve worked hard to improve, strong legs and arms and a gentle curve to my tummy that in my eyes screams “FEMININE” at roughly 200 decibel.
Walking home later, the comment was scratching away at me and I realised that while I’m not the most girly girl in the world, by heck am I a feminine woman. I own the required dresses that when needed I will shimmy into and get my groove on. I own make up products, hair straighteners and serum to tame the fluff. I wax my legs on a fairly regular basis (but then I’ve already ranted about women and body hair…if you’re feeling brave you can have a look back) and I love the reaction I get from friends and family when I do make a huge effort and I look so very different from my everyday capable and sensible look. The reaction, I find hilarious, because underneath the paint and pretty clothes I’m the same woman as I was the day before.
I conducted a straw poll on Facebook to see if I was genuinely in the minority of my female friends – maybe I did need to start slapping on the war paint? As I expected not a huge response but those that did gave a surprising result. Out of the 13 responses, 11 came from women (thanks boys but if you want to wear mascara I’m right behind you). Only one admitted to wearing make-up everyday and identified with not being able to go without make up. No one said they wore it for work which would be one of my times to wear it, meetings etc. 8 women said they only wore make up and did their hair “properly” for a special occasion only and 2 women admitted they never wore make up because they either didn’t like it or feel like they needed it. I think it’s safe to assume that I’d be in the special occasion section – and this makes me smile. Femininity doesn’t come in a tube or bottle.
Take it from me, femininity comes from within and not from the MAC counter. Sorry MAC.
p.s. Caitlin, if you happen to read this, thank you.