What Feminism Means To Me

I consider myself a feminist.  I used to hate the term and the stigma surrounding it, and I still sometimes find myself doubting the adjective, as much as I hate to admit it.  It’s not that I don’t feel that women – and everyone else, for that matter – are equal to men. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s simply because of the social stigma and negative connotations surrounding feminism and feminist beliefs.

When I was younger, it never really occurred to me that women may be inferior to men.  I’ve grown up in a family full of strong, independent, and powerful women, many of whom I’ve watched firsthand go through Hell and back with a smile on their face.  So, even as a young girl, I felt that I, as a woman (or budding woman, I should say), was just as powerful and capable as a man.  However, looking back, I realize that I always felt I should be more of a tomboyish girl, that people won’t like a feminine girl or taker her seriously.  I went through a phase where I didn’t wear earrings (or jewelry at all, for that matter), and dresses and skirts were  completely out of the question, even though I’d often find myself longing for the freedom I felt in a skirt and envying the girls who would wear dresses to school.  As you can probably tell, I’ve always been a jumble of contradictions.

It wasn’t until I was about 13 years old that I began to experiment with fashion (as is evident in my beyond cringe-worthy school photos), which was also when I started educating myself on feminist philosophy.  Coincidence?  Probably not. Learning about feminism was so freeing.  It wasn’t until I began educating myself on the topic that I began to accept the fact that I am, in fact, a female, and that is more than okay to be a woman.  Teen Vogue certainly helped me to find women outside of my family to look up to as role models, along with helping me to find my style and learning how fashion and feminism can work in harmony.  One of my favorite articles, which I have hanging on my bedroom wall right above my workspace, is by Arabelle Sicardi.  It’s called “Hair? Don’t Care”*, and it talks about body hair and the fact that women do have it, and that’s it is your choice as a person to do whatever you want with it.  One of my favorite quotes of hers, which she said while discussing the time she started shaving, reads: “not for my own comfort but so they wouldn’t look at me like I failed girlhood.”  That one really struck home for me, and made me analyze the way I dress and take care of myself hygienically.  Did I do things because I wanted to, or because it was what I was “supposed” to do?

Since reading that article, I wear dresses without shame and am unafraid to rock pink hair. I usually like to shave, but I sure as Hell don’t do it for anyone other than my own personal comfort.  And, I’m not ashamed to say that my signature scent is men’s deodorant and a knock-off version of Viktor & Rolf’s Flower Bomb perfume.  Why? Because there are no rules to being a woman.  And if you take anything at all from this article, let it be just that.

* Sicardi, Arabelle. “Hair? Don’t Care.” Teen Vogue Apr. 2016: 64. Print.

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