Making yourself up

By Jen Thorpe

I recently had the (dis)pleasure of being in a photoshoot for a magazine article on My First Time.  Part of this experience involved being made up by a wonderful make-up artist who spent at least 25 minutes making me up. She tried her best to console me that this was normal, and the many many layers were not a result of what was wrong with my face, but that they were necessary to make me look natural in the photograph (bless her patient soul).

Now, I don’t wear makeup. At most, and at a push, I wear mascara. But most often this just ends up a) hurting my eyelashes which aren’t used to being hardened and curled and b) being smudged on my face or pillow. Make-up makes me feel made up, inauthentic and strange. It makes me feel like my eyes are looking out of a face that isn’t mine. It makes me feel like a hypocrite and sell out. Perhaps you have a different experience?

In any event it really got me thinking about the way we view other women in the media, how we expect them to look and feel. Perhaps this is more heightened for women in entertainment who are cast before our eyes in magazines, television, in film? How do we begin to know what they really look like, and how does this affect how we feel that we look?

How do we treat women who write, sing, perform and dance? Watching Black Swan earlier this year really made me think about the way we treat our bodies as objects often – when they don’t look the way we want to we become frustrated with them, as though they are not part of us; when they don’t perform (run, swim, dance, sing) how we expect them to, again we feel alienated as though they don’t want to listen to us. But they are us. We are our bodies. We are inseparable from them. I think Abra Fortune Chernik says it incredibly well below.

As young feminists we must place unconditional acceptance of our bodies at the top of our political agenda. We must claim our bodies as our own to love and honour in their infinite shapes and sizes. Fat, thin, soft, hard, puckered, smooth, our bodies are our homes. By nourishing our bodies, we care for and love ourselves on the most basic level. When we deny ourselves physical food, we go hungry emotionally, psychologically, spiritually and politically. We must challenge ourselves to eat and digest, and allow society to call us too big. We will understand their message to mean too powerful. Abra Fortune Chernik – Listen Up: Voices of the Next Feminist Generation.

So in April I hope that we can all reflect on how amazing women in entertainment are; how their bodies are powerful and allow them to do the things they want to. But I also hope we can reflect back on the ways that women in entertainment play into the idea of post-feminism, and what this means for the way we see ourselves reflected in them.

p.s. photos to follow as soon as I get them.


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