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Creating a Passion for Goodness: Challenging Vanity

Challenging Vanity

I have worn many hats in my life. I am/ have been a Student, Waitress, Girl Scout, Outdoors Woman, Sorority Girl, Coach, Lifeguard, Instructor, Athlete and In each one, feminism played part in my experience. I work hard in all that I do because I have the privilege to do so. Being a girl has been on the helping and hurting side of all of these experiences.

I just went on a 5 day backpacking and climbing trip where I didn't shower for 5 days and the temperature dipped below 30. On this trip the topic of challenging vanity came up. I brought up the topic of going a full year without wearing makeup. Immediately I got a ton of support from my friends. The thought of challenging my vanity seemed like a great way to take my self confidence to the next level. I thought about the year ahead and realized my graduation will be this year and I will need to look nice for it. When I said that I got a response saying "You're only going to wear it for a picture right?" and I don't know the answer to that. My parents spent a lot of money on me to go to school, so for me to look like i just rolled out of bed might not be the best idea, especially since I have a set past of doing glamorous hair and makeup for big events. I mean, Hey I may never have a wedding so this could be my last big ceremony for a while. I also know my parents support me in my efforts to be true to myself so there is a slight pause on this answer.

This decision has been at the front of my mind since the trip. I brought it up with many friends and even got to discuss the topic with 10 of my old sailing friends who are now women in the coast guard academy, the core, and athletes. I stumbled upon REI's videos on the topic that you should watch here and here. here are my main thoughts after all of these perspectives.

  • I don't wear makeup because I hate myself or I don't think I'm pretty enough. Some people might feel that way, but I do not. I simply enjoy the art of makeup. It's like wearing fun clothes, listening to my music a little too loud or any other form of self expression. On the flip side, sometimes I hate it and I will go weeks without it. It really depends on what I feel like doing.
  • My makeup does not affect my ability. I can climb just as hard with makeup on as I can with out.
  • Look good feel good? maybe?? It can be one less thing to worry about, but only if you worry about it. Sometimes I think it is a choice to worry about it. Placing your self-worth and self confidence in things other than your appearance is absolutely crucial.
  • I don't need to be a tom-boy to do tom-boy things. I am often judged and I shock people when they see me in the dirt, long boarding, or camping or climbing because they expect me to fit into my appearance. (Think looks like young Reece Witherspoon with a personality similar to Jennifer Lawrence)
  • It's ok to be a girl. Being "just as good as the boys" or "one of the guys" feels like an outdated concept. Just be your best self, for yourself.
  • what am I really sacrificing when I challenge my vanity? I haven't figured this one out yet.
  • If I am not true to myself am I making It harder on the next girl? I enjoy wearing makeup and being in my sorority and doing girly things but who says I cant have both worlds? I often joke that I am having an identity crisis. Longboarding with a Tory Burch tote is a weird merge of my worlds

In our outdoor program my boss once said that she did not want our best climbers photographed for marketing. She did not want people to feel like they have to be tall lean and ripped to climb with us. So how would I be setting an example for other girls who want to wear makeup AND climb? I stopped wearing makeup to work because someone told me that I intimidated them when I had my hair and makeup done at work. THATS NUTS! It freaked me out and I felt out of place. But when do I cross the line of conforming to other people's idea of what climbers should look like? Why can't I still wear my makeup and be part of the community? I don't have to be a tom-boy to do tom-boy things? climbing isn't even a tom-boy thing?! I am still figuring this one out too.

In high school I remember saying "Feminism is stupid. we already have equal rights." My dad corrected me very quickly and told me that lots of women fought very hard to have the rights I have now and that people are still fighting to preserve those rights and to bring equality beyond laws. That resonated with me and I think about that often. Now, many years later, I consider myself a feminist and back then I would have too if I understood what it meant. People seem to have a differing opinion of the definition. I like this one "Feminists advocate social, political, economic, and intellectual equality for women and men." I hope I contribute nothing but good to this movement.

Back story on my life: I grew up in semi-conservative Texas suburbia with an older and younger brother and my parents. My brothers "humbled" me as my mom says. The kept me and my ego in check for sure. They taught me resiliency, the importance of self confidence, and that I CAN keep up with the boys. We got into a few arguments over my abilities as a girl. My favorite resulted in 10 year old AbbyD screaming at an RC car track "JUST BECAUSE I AM A GIRL DOES'NT MEAN THAT I CAN'T DO WHAT YOU CAN DO" after my older brother told me that I could not drive the RC car because I was a girl. It was the first time I can remember being told that I was not capable of something because I was a girl. This was also during a sensitive time in my life because it was around the time of "the talk" about changes that women go through. I had interpreted it as women are broken. The concept of a woman going through such drastic changes was so uncomfortable to me (and still is) Today, I am still coming to terms with a lot of things that make me feminine.

Being a girl is cool, and I am so so so glad (and privileged) that I can say that.

"Using feminine wiles to get what

you want. Trading on your looks.

Exploiting men's weakness for sex.

Read a book, sister. That passive-

aggressive crap went out in the

seventies. Chicks like you give

Women a bad name."

-Batgirl (Batman & Robin 1997)

My final thought is to do what ever the heck I want for myself.

Update 4 weeks later: I wore mascara once on Christmas.