27 February 2017

Cake-faced and feminist

Last night I went to see comedian (comedienne?) Michele A'Court's latest show, Stuff I Forgot to Tell My Daughter. It was at the end of an extremely busy weekend (next weekend you'll find me doing precisely nothing). Two minutes before I had to leave the house I hauled on the clothes I'd worn to last night's do, and wondered if I should put on some make-up. Alas I couldn't find it. I own some foundation, lipstick and a mascara. I haven't seen it for months and realised I no longer know where it is.

So I left the house anyway and never thought of it again.

Middle-aged woman's barefaced selfie (mine)

That is, until Michele said she forgot to tell her daughter that when you start feeling comfortable with how you look is about the same time you in fact start to look like shit (her word).

This is quite possibly true. She followed up with 'This is also when you are too tired to care'. Which is also true! Or, in my case, you think you have far more important places to expend your energy.

Cake face

She, however, did not appear to be too tired to care. She appeared to be sporting what my 13-year-old son calls a "cake face". She described putting on a face in front of her face, which at some point in the evening collapses, so she carries around her grandmother's compact to check it, which inexplicably now still contains her granny in the mirror! It was pretty funny.

And then the contradiction flew out into the audience and hit me. She started talking about feminism, and taught the audience a lot of feminist history. She also put up a photo of craggy old Leonard Cohen, barefaced, and everyone sighed in admiration. I can't remember why she put it up, but I don't think it was anything to do with feminism.

The pot accused the kettle


Not only does the feminist have to apply the mask at least once a day, and wash it off at night, she has to take the time to buy the cosmetics, spend the money on them, and be comfortable with the amount of plastic rubbish they generate. They might also contain chemicals that have dubious effects on the body (the skin absorbs so much).

And she's doing it because (she thinks) she chooses to do so, enjoys doing so, loves how it looks and how it makes her feel. Which, I suppose, is how women felt when they strapped on body-deforming corsets, or bound their broken feet still tighter. Maybe us feeling that way is the secret of the prison's success: it makes us build our own walls and valiantly defend them.

Image result for clay plate lower lip
Not my photo

I know people have been trading their goods for bone necklaces and combs since the dawn of time. They make gaping holes in their lower lips, wear so many rings around their necks that they distort their ribcages, file their teeth into points, etc. We care so much about how we look that we go to lengths that are blatantly ridiculous - but the ridiculousness is evident only to those outside the culture in which it's happening. Those inside the walls are blind to it.

I reckon it's worth thinking about the trade-off - what we could be doing in lieu of all this - since we're all feminists now and can so clearly see the myriad ways that our culture forces women into submission.

Or can we?

P.S. It's quite possible that Michele would be out of work if she wore no make-up. That's show-biz - in her industry she probably has no choice.

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