Other Women Do it Differently

I’ve seen a few posts this week that all had me thinking of the same thing – women have been extremely well trained by the patriarchy to scornfully set themselves apart from other women who perform femininity differently than they do.

The first thing that had me pondering this is a mock “beauty guru” YouTube video done by a woman who seems to be mostly a comedienne. The title of it is “Honest Everyday Makeup Tutorial”

It’s super cute and seen in the intended comedic light it’s also funny. I laughed! But there’s a different, darker undertone to it as well, especially in the commentary I’ve seen.  The undertone (Right there in the title! Does that make it an overtone?) is that THIS is an honest tutorial. Other women who do tutorials are putting us on somehow – because who actually does all that shit? Other women are lying, they’re tricking us, they’re not living “real” life like the woman in this video.  Because “real” life and “real” women don’t give a shit about anything related to this beauty claptrap, amirite? Caring about your makeup application is so stupid, you guys. Nobody “real” does that! Just slap anything on, it’s all the same! (Especially if you’re naturally gorgeous like the YouTube artist.) I don’t believe that was necessarily the intention of the artist, I think she meant to make a funny, self-deprecating video here. But the way it’s being taken doesn’t really reflect that.

I get that her experience might mirror that of many women, that she doesn’t know or care about makeup, but the implication that she’s somehow more real and honest than anyone else who talks about their makeup is nonsense. Not caring doesn’t make you more cool. You’re not winning the not-a-typical-girl contest by thinking so. Being careless isn’t better or more real, being meticulous is not better or more real. There is no competition for who ladies best, I assure you.

(Also, all the NOPEs in the world to the guy in the comments who starts out “As a guy, I think…”. If you ever find yourself starting a sentence that way, go take a time-out and think about your choices.)

Then I saw this nasty screed on Jezebel (you guys I am about done with Jezebel, for real) titled “Let’s Just Stop With the Contouring Already” and posted with a lot of photos of celebrities that the author felt were applying their makeup improperly.

Several commenters pointed out that the makeup in question was most probably stage makeup, which is not meant for close-up photos. *I* will point out that posting multiple pictures of a woman with a known drinking and drug problem and mocking her makeup application is just plain cruel.

Here’s some of the (ahem) dazzling wit from the article:

“Sure, love is a battlefield, but makeup isn’t supposed to look like war paint. Still, women are drawing stripes all over their faces and taking liberties with bronzer in an attempt to create some kind of illusion—but they simply can’t escape the cold hard reality that they look like fucking idiots.”

What is this even trying to say?  Nothing, except that other women are doing being-a-woman visually in a way that this one other woman doesn’t approve of, and she’s going to make fun of them, because that’s what sites about “feminism” should focus on, you know? What we really need in the feminist movement is a dedicated space where people can complain about womens’ looks! Because there’s really nowhere to do that, right, except THE ENTIRE REST OF THE INTERNET.


But anyway, thanks for letting us know how makeup is supposed to look in your world according to you, I will file that away in the bin of trivia about which I give no shits.

Best comment went to the lady who posted this at the writer:


Lastly was another YouTube video. This one wasn’t quite as egregious as the other two, but still, it hit me the wrong way.

This girl, she is beautiful. She fits the cultural beauty ideal in almost every way. Young, unwrinkled, slim, pale, symmetrical face, small nose, thick eyebrows, a generous, symmetrical, bow-shaped mouth – there’s not a lot of “correcting” to be done here.

So as she’s sharing her foundation routine, she makes many comments about how she doesn’t use this or that product, or doesn’t use highlighter on her nose, or doesn’t contour or whatever else, because it’s “so unnecessary.”  “you don’t need to apply tons of concealer to this part!” She doesn’t like blush, blah blah blah. And that’s well and good for her, but I don’t know that she realizes that everyone doesn’t start out looking that way? Several people in the comments praised her for her simplicity, agreeing that all these other products are “just too much” and several other were like, bitch please, you started out the way some of us want to finish up!

The thing to remember is that every woman is struggling to find her personal way through the patriarchal society we live in. The one that says caring about your looks is stupid and pretentious and yet judges us on those looks at every opportunity. That one, you recognize it? Traditional “feminine” pursuits are stupid wastes of time, real women can’t be bothered, they really have to explain how they’re not like other girls because they do things differently.

But really, no matter if you’re covered in every makeup product known to humankind or you never touch the stuff, if you spend your day in jeans or stiletto heels, if you live for NASCAR or America’s Top Model or neither of those, or both, you are JUST LIKE EVERY SINGLE OTHER GIRL. I promise you, you’re exactly like other girls – you’re a victim of a repressive set of standards that demonize us for the very things that are demanded of us. So please, find something better to do than ever, ever, criticizing another woman’s appearance-related choices. They’re none of your business, you don’t know what circumstances led her to make them, you don’t know how necessary they may be to her, or what in her life has led her to today. I know you’ve been brought up differently – you’ve been brought up to see all women as fair game in the never-ending critique parade that is our society. But let it go. You will be happier, you will feel better about yourself, and you may gain some much-needed empathy in the process.

Redirect your scorn at the society that does this to us, makes us do this to each other. Aim it away from ladies who, like you, are just struggling to get by.

5 years ago

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