Last year was the first I heard of International Women’s Day — several colleagues confirmed it’s relatively unknown in the U.S.. This year, when #internationalwomensday started trending a few days ago, I clicked.
Of course, hashtags are only an indication of what people are talking about on Twitter, but based on that hashtag, I learned International Women’s Day is about celebrating women’s “beauty” with selfies — particularly makeup/no makeup selfies.
*grumble* *grumble* *grumble*
Intellectually, I understand celebrating body diversity and encouraging body acceptance and positivity are important parts of larger efforts for equality. I understand selfies can be empowering (and for the purposes of concession, I’m going to ignore the many disparate political and semantic interpretations of “empowerment”).
But good god… there were so many… SO MANY SELFIES.
Selfies with accompanying text: “beautiful with or without makeup,” “beautiful even with natural hair,” “beauty at any age/size/color/type,” “beautiful with no filters,” “beauty is what’s on the inside,” etc. (ad infinitum).
Intellectually, I get it. But emotionally (and maybe spiritually), I felt like putting my my fist through a wall.
Is acceptance and celebration of appearance what we find most empowering? Is there anything else? I’m sure there is, but I didn’t see much evidence in the avalanche of selfies.
I saw a few mentions of strength, fewer mentions of intelligence, but little else. Those characteristics and attributes (some seemingly natural talents, others hard fought and won) are important, but they’re what women are, not what women do.
Yes, women, you are beautiful. But what about what you do?
What about the diploma you earned? the garden you planted? the child you raised? the bread you baked? the book you finished? the finish line you crossed? the math test you passed? the poem you wrote? the scarf you knitted? the guitar you play? the meal you made? the art you created? the problem you solved? the product you developed?
It’s maddening that the few vague mentions of talent or achievement were merely contributing factors to what makes a woman beautiful. While beauty is semantically flexible, it seems reductive and counterproductive to describe everything in terms largely connotative of aesthetic standards. Can’t we use special, or important, or valuable instead?
A woman’s qualities and characteristics are important unto themselves — not simply in support of what makes her beautiful. More than that, her qualities and characteristics are important not simply because they make her who she is, but also, because of what she does with them.
Post published courtesy of my grumpy inner feminist, who wants to remind you: