I recently read "Can Lipstick Give you Super Powers?", in Glamour. It was super interesting because it addresses how society values women through the male gaze and compares our experimentation with fashion and beauty to personal empowerment and sense of self while examining the false tension that exist between beauty and feminism. The writer calls out that, "most things that are coded as female are dismissed as frivolous or lacking value...So much of what girls and women have been taught about our bodies and the way we look is a reflection of the male gaze. But it's up to every woman to wade through what that connection - how they feel and look to the world - means for them." It's a wonderful way to articulate the lens and limitations placed on women because of the patriarchal nature of our society.
The things the world has told men about a woman's intelligence, beauty and source of self-esteem are the same values and derivations we teach to girls about themselves to discredit their natural and socialized interest...like fashion for example! Historically, the mainstream narrative around beauty and fashion was that they cannot coexist with intellect and innovation, but I'm hopefully that the world is starting to see that these thing are not mutually exclusive. Models aren't dumb because they are beautiful, designers can be both creative and business savvy, and not only have we learned that women can excel in math and science - but these disciplines are necessary to innovate in the fashion space! It's a strange conundrum I am still working to illustrate well, but I've come to understand through my personal experiences - whether it's reading the skepticism on faces when I come to a product development meeting in full makeup (red lipstick and all) and Louboutin's or the confusion felt in conversations when I try to explain to people what I do - but there is a gap between the perception around the things we value as women like makeup, skincare, fashion and beauty and the understanding that these are large multi-billion dollar industries that cater to women, but run by men.
The article ends reinforcing the idea that women have to define for themselves a new lens through which men can and should view us. Societies long standing tradition of telling us how to feel beautiful and to strive for the approval and affection of men is dated and coming to a close for women who are woke. The next step is to take control of the disciplines, industries and spaces that support our new ideaology.