Then in college, I ran headlong into feminism. Picture one of those scenes in the movies with the two people running across the field of flowers into each other’s embrace, only in this scene, it’s me and feminism. Ah, finally, a whole academic body of knowledge that confirms my own sense of the world! That gives me a perfectly legitimate reason not to shave my legs, or wear makeup, or pay to get my haircut. Because parts of me didn’t really want to be doing any of those things in the first place. But now I had a reason besides laziness for not doing them.
Looking back on college, I see that my biggest fashion influence was, in fact, my college boyfriend. I wore his Birkenstocks, bought his flannel, long sleeve shirts, and had a sweater that was almost exactly like the sweater he wore without ceasing during the season that passes for winter in Mississippi.
And as a sociologist, I started to question what real freedom is, anyway. As a college student, I thought I was being really original and unique by wearing the same t-shirt for two weeks straight. But who was I kidding? We contain inside our heads many conflicting messages about the way we should live and who we should be. Very rarely, if ever, are we inventing something completely different. Mostly, we’re just making choices among all the options that our culture makes available to us. But feminism came to be more about the ability to critically make those choices more than it was about dictating what I should wear.
|Me in a salwar kameez|
|Mendhi and another
At its best, something like a pedicure celebrates our bodies. Let us treat them as something worthy of attention, labor and money. Let us take them seriously. Let us take a moment to enjoy the sensations our bodies gives us and the way our bodies looks. That’s neither feminine nor masculine, but just a good thing. Certainly different people might have different preferences for exactly how they’d like to enjoy being in their body. My mother is not particularly interested in celebrating her feet. But what does that have to do with gender? Not much.
So, I’ll admit, I did pick pink as my toenail color. It didn’t look as pink in the bottle as it does on my toes, and the die-hard, college feminist inside of me is not particularly happy. But I think my feet are.
I think I know one of your grad school friends who was encouraging of the jewelry and shoe shopping! 😉
Another fun post, Robyn. Love the photo of you in the shalwar kameez. I've often thought they would be fun & breezy to wear in the summer heat.
On the flip side of things, my husband is a proud wearer of various sarongs when we travel to the Caribbean. He lounges and walks the beach in them. But he calls them lava-lavas after the South Paficic islander usage, not sarongs.
I still have a lot of hangups about feminism and body image. I still can't get my head wrapped around the idea of someone administering to my feet for thirty some minutes, though my bff is a fervent advocate of it.
I did just buy a pink purse last month, which surprised the hell out of a lot of people I know…
Thanks for the post. I'm bookmarking it….
Great post! It's interesting, isn't it, how there are strains of feminism that feel that being a feminist means rejecting stereotypical feminist traits. I'm guilty of it myself. I often catch myself inwardly sneering at something “girly” for no good reason. I'm trying to get myself to stop!
Pedicure are fantastic. The first time I had one was when I was a bridesmaid for the first time, and it felt so good I completely forgot to be weirded out by a stranger touching my feet. I don't get them that often, but that's more for money reasons. I've gone back to painting my toes, although never with pink. I'm still not a big fan of that color 🙂
Thanks for sharing!