Feminism | Posted by Sheridan T on 10/5/2009

The Development of a Feminist

Here is my story.

When you draw a timeline, it looks pathetic. Because the majority of my life, when marked off on a timeline, has been devoted to being what every feminist is afraid of becoming. What Sarah Haskins coins, “The Perfect Woman.”

I wore lots of makeup. It caked on my face. Lining, defining, plucking, bringing out my “best features” and playing down the “less desirable ones.” But we didn’t like to talk about those.

I never stopped to think about why shampoo had so many vitamins when hair was made up of dead skin cells. Dead cells can’t absorb vitamins! Their membranes aren’t active! But ha, who needed a brain when you were pretty, right? Everything I did was a lame attempt at getting guys to like me, even if I wasn’t conscious of it. The idea of being able to attract all men, even the lame ones, was so ingrained.

My mother was the epitome of the middle-aged feminist. She gently pushed to help me make the right decisions. But I didn’t listen to her because she wasn’t like me – she was old and wrinkly and had bad hair and too much cellulite. Or so I believed…

And then it dawned on me.
My mother is a beautiful woman.

A few months ago, I read The Beauty Myth. And I cried. Because what I was living wasn’t rewarding in the least.
And then I realized that the friends I considered beautiful were also the most fucked up. They have perfect body and facial preportions, but they aren’t happy. Tons of men like them, but they’re either empty men or nice men who are projecting. I haven’t seen any “true love.” This brief period of time has been more rewarding and meaningful than all the other years combined. It was spent doing things for me, listening and loving and laughing only when I wanted to. And letting my bitch-flag fly when I felt like it.

And now, as I look back on this period of time, the only thing that has been missing are my girls. The girls in my life are all too centered on their hair or their boobs or their boyfriends to really enjoy what surrounds them.

So this is an attempt, a ranty one, but a hopefully worthwhile one, at having everyone share their stories. Community empowers women. Let’s allow that to thrive.

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  • Casey @ at 4:44 pm, October 5th, 2009

    Wow, that completely took the words out of my mouth and put them into a way that is actually understandable, if that makes any sense. Inspiring.

  • Caroline @ at 6:07 pm, October 5th, 2009

    Sheridannn.
    You’re totally my idol now :)

  • toongrrl @ at 6:25 pm, October 5th, 2009

    “And then I realized that the friends I considered beautiful were also the most fucked up. They have perfect body and facial preportions, but they aren’t happy. Tons of men like them, but they’re either empty men or nice men who are projecting. I haven’t seen any “true love.” This brief period of time has been more rewarding and meaningful than all the other years combined. It was spent doing things for me, listening and loving and laughing only when I wanted to. And letting my bitch-flag fly when I felt like it.”
    That is an amazing point you’ve made Sheridan.

  • Hannah @ at 6:26 pm, October 5th, 2009

    I was introduced to The Beauty Myth when I was 20 (over 16 years ago) and was blown away by the concept. It had just never occurred to me. It had never occurred to my mother or her mother’s mother.

    I hope it continues to occur in me and in my actions.

    I hope, I hope, I hope.

  • Anna @ at 7:39 pm, October 5th, 2009

    “Community empowers women.”

    Amen.

  • Steph @ at 8:19 pm, October 5th, 2009

    Sheridan – do you have a blog or something? Because that was AWESOME.
    And I can totally agree that often the whole societal concept of beauty (thin, pale, long hair, passive, etc…) just doesn’t work for a lot of people – people who fall between the cracks, or get ignored.

    If I think about how happy I was before I started being myself and after, I’d have to agree with you that there’s no contest.

    Let your bitch-flag fly, girl, and rock on.

  • Brittany @ at 6:00 pm, October 6th, 2009

    I have felt your pain so many times. I can’t tell you how many times I’m sick of hearing my friends brag about their boyfriends or how guys looked at them in a certain way. They almost BRAG about how they get into fights. I’m sick of girls making themselved beautiful for guys, as if we are some doll that can be painted. I sometimes think that we have degraded our self back to the victorian age, but with out the manners. I could go on and on about this, But I’m pretty sure you understand what I mean. I like the be beautiful because well, I get a joy out of it. I may sound rediculous, but I feel like putting on war paint before I go into the battle that is called life. I am the Modern day Boudica, preparing to wage war agianst well… girls that only want to be known as the ‘girlfriend’. I want to be known as a powerful person with a pair of awsome heels, and it doesn’t matter if guys like my shoes or not. Your blog is a breath of fresh air to me. I now must read The Beauty Myth. I thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! It doesn’t make me feel like I’m alone. Keep on being yourself and writing!!!

  • Roisin @ at 2:53 pm, October 8th, 2009

    I do wear make up now- I’ve been applying it daily for months whereas I never wore it previously. I’m not hunting for men – I already have a great one. I like how it feels, and I like how I look wearing it.

    That’s the great thing about being a woman nowadays. We can CHOOSE whether we want to wear make up or not, without it affecting our intelligence, life choices or hopefully confidence.

    However, my mother said to me the other day when she visited “I didn’t raise you to not shave your legs”…cripes.

  • Amy CT @ at 1:43 pm, October 9th, 2009

    I wear make-up. Only a little, though… I didn’t at all until I was sixteen (last year), and that was because my family didn’t want me to.

    But I thought, “you know what? Screw this. I’m free. I want to wear eyeliner.”

    And so, I do.

    It’s not to attract guys, it genuinly isn’t. It’s because I personally want to. And I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with that.

    The rest of this, though, I fully agree with, 110%.

    : )

  • Sheridan T @ at 10:03 pm, October 9th, 2009

    I totally agree that wearing makeup is great, as long as you’re doing it for you and not to make yourself “acceptable.” There’s a distinction :)

  • Amy CT @ at 1:13 pm, October 10th, 2009

    I know. That’s the reason why I originally didn’t – because it was what was expected of me. But I’m a “big girl” now: I should be able to choose : )

  • Stephanie @ at 1:07 pm, October 12th, 2009

    That post rocked.

  • Sarah @ at 6:32 pm, October 12th, 2009

    What a beautiful blog post. I haven’t read the Beautiful Myth, but now I intend to. And I think a lot of us young women, whether we want to or not get a little lost sometimes. We lose perspective of what’s important. I know I certainly have tried to be the “Perfect Woman” a few times in my life.

  • Marie @ at 11:58 pm, October 12th, 2009

    I have been there and felt that. But I choose choice and I choose to wear make up, no matter how I’m perceived. Just as I choose not to wear make up some days. Choice is power.
    I don’t think it’s fair however, to categorize all women who wear make up as “fucked up”. those who prescribe to different ascetics are just as likely to be “fucked up” too.

  • Amy CT @ at 12:57 pm, October 13th, 2009

    Exactly.

  • Sheridan T @ at 8:16 pm, October 13th, 2009

    Of course, I would never subscribe to labelling women who wear make up as “fucked up.”

  • Christina @ at 11:29 am, October 14th, 2009

    To be succinct, that was amazing. I’m off to read The Beautiful Myth!

  • Anji @ at 6:38 am, November 6th, 2009

    What a beautiful, beautiful post. :D

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