Pin Up, Polkadots, Pink Bows and the Courage to Be Yourself, My Feminine Feminist Manifesto
I am a feminist: vintage style, girlie looks, flashy accessories and all. It took a while for me to reconcile the fact that it's okay to simultaneously be a feminist and to try to look cute/pretty/sexy, and not feel apologetic for it. (Brace yourself: a feminine feminist manifesto follows below...)
I was prompted to ponder this after Caitlyn Jenner publicly transitioned to being a woman. I smiled as I read about her delight and excitement for upcoming girls' nights "'where everybody is treating you the same way. You can talk about anything you want to talk about. You can talk about outfits. You can talk about hair and makeup, anything you want. It becomes not a big deal.'"
My inner militant feminist, who read all that Second Wave Feminist Theory for her Women Studies Minor, wanted to scoff "There's more to womanhood than that." Of course there is. I know that and Caitlyn Jenner knows that in an observational way and will start knowing it firsthand. There's more to being a woman than the frilly, fun, girlie stuff, but that doesn't mean we can't relish and CELEBRATE that frilly, fun, girlie stuff.
The Feminine IS Strong
At some point, I realized that denigrating girlie-ness was anti-feminist. To say pink, purple, and polka dots are weak/lesser/unimportant, is to say that things we feminize are weak/lesser/unimportant (pink, purple and polka dots are not feminine by nature, of course), and, as such, to accept the collective mindset that what's feminine is weak/lesser/unimportant. And I refuse to accept this.
I have been and always will be a girlie girl. I am proud of this. It is my nature to love wearing my clothes as an expression of style and personality. It is my nature to be good at doing my hair, applying my make up, and coordinating my accessories. I have a proclivity for it, I consider it part of my artistic expression, and it fills me with joy to do it. Just because at one point that was the sphere in which (privileged, upper-class) women were confined to express themselves, doesn't mean wanting to continue enjoying those things is some sort of regression in female equality.
Cutting off a person's desire to like what they like, and be who they want to be, is the most restrictive thing for them. It's evidenced in the extreme with a person who is transgender. It's evidenced in the subtlest but still personally quite important way for a modern day post-70s feminist. For the longest time, I didn't allow myself to like what I like without apology. No more, though.
Embrace Your Pickish Purplish Girliness, If It Makes You Happy
Yes, I'm a feminist, but I don't want to go bra-less, style-less, and makeup-less. I want to wear a fully supportive undergarment. I want to wear an eye-catching dress. And I want my pale features, which would otherwise seem non-existent, to be noticeable thanks to a couple tricks with the cosmetic kit.
It's very empowering to embrace your inner pinkish-purple-ness and share it unabashedly. And gaining power from the freedom to be who you are is exactly the whole point: of feminism, of democracy, of being.