Last year, it seemed like feminism finally became “cool.” Obviously, I’ve always thought feminism was the tits (see: my extremely passionate second-grade campaign for Sacagawea on the dollar coin); however, in 2015, it seemed like the rest of the world finally caught on.
Of course, every time that Tina Fey called out the treatment of women in the media, or Rashida Jones opened up a dialogue around sex work, there was an advertising agency salivating in the corner over the prospect of using feminism to sell people shit. Some stuff was inarguably awesome — Always’s #LikeAGirl campaign comes immediately to mind — but some stuff was pretty pandering (Chanel, I don’t need your models to hold up signs saying they are feminists. kthxbye).
Wait..., you might be asking yourself as you slowly back away from your computer, if this article is literally about products that you use that make you a better feminist, how is that inexorably about not about marketing and consumerism?
To which I say, you’re right. But this isn’t about the products I use that are marketed as being “feminist”; this is about the stuff I slather on my face, hair, and body, that actually, for a ton of different reasons, makes me personally feel like a better feminist.
In the past, people have had a bit of a hard time understanding the inherent duality of the fact that I’m obsessed with makeup but also obsessed with Faludi’s new wave feminist critique of academic deconstruction and Dworkin’s discussion of the female body. These people are annoying, but I can kind of understand their confusion; when makeup is ostensibly meant to help women reach an unattainable patriarchal standard of “beauty,” it can be hard to see how feminism fits in.
That’s why, when I talk about these beauty products, it is important that I first explain — and not only because I don’t want people to yell at me — that these products do not represent feminism as a whole. And, although these products make me feel feminist pride and joy, they may not be inspire the same warm fuzzy feminist feeling in you.
So, without further ado, these are the beauty products that make me feel like a better feminist (because I love makeup and I don’t care what anyone else thinks).
To me, being a feminist means that I wear makeup for me. Whenever I read articles listing “beauty trends that men secretly hate,” I laugh out loud and get excited to try some cool new makeup looks.
One thing that men apparently don’t always find the cutest (because women can only ever look nice if it’s for a man’s pleasure, am I right?) is the statement lip.
Well, guess what: I love a good statement lip and to me, there’s no better man-repelling, feminist AF color than NARS Dominique. It’s purple and blue and pink toned in a way that’s almost "zombie" and almost "'90s club kid," and it looks so wrong against my pale Nordic skin that it’s just SO RIGHT.
Deborah Lippmann Nail Color in Stronger, Whatever Lola Wants, Hit Me With Your Best Shot, Miss Independent, Respect (...I could go on)
Deborah Lippmann actually names all of her polishes after songs. And, luckily for me, a ton of those songs are super-feminist. She’s a feminist, a music-lover, and she creates kick-ass nail polish. Honestly, what’s not to love?
Glossier is a company created by the beauty editors at Into The Gloss who wanted to celebrate women in all their complexity, and to create makeup that was no-frills, just awesome.
Boy Brow is hands-down my favorite brow product that I own, and it’s named Boy Brow not because full brows bring all the boys to the yard, but because gender is a spectrum and not a binary. And boys (and anyone who falls anywhere on the gender spectrum) can have thick, gorgeous brows whenever they damn please, too.
One of my favorite things about beauty is that even though some products can get very pricey, it’s fundamentally more accessible than fashion. You may not be able to afford countless outfits and bags and shoes by haute couture designers, but you can buy one YSL Lipstick and look like the bad bitch that you are, for less than three figures.
Eva Mendes, who created the Circa Beauty line, is also a believer in making quality cosmetics that are also accessible to those of us who can’t afford to buy makeup at Barney’s. A female business mogul who advocates for accessible luxury? That’s my kind of girl (oh yeah, and she’s married to Ryan Gosling, tumblr feminist hero).
Davines is one of my favorite brands. All Davines products are so natural they are made with food grade material (So you can literally eat them, though I don’t recommend it). As a company, they are committed to eco-packaging, zero impact salons, and sustainability across all products lines.
The NaturalTech line is particularly dope, as it’s specifically crafted to use technology to create innovative beauty products that lessen the ecological impact of the beauty industry. When I use the Nourishing Living Enzyme Infusion, my processed hair stays super-soft, and I am contributing to business practices that don’t eff up the environment. So, go me.
Okay, yes, so there’s another NARS product on my list. That’s because this product is so so great. It’s a) awesome, multipurpose, and made for women who don’t want to be tied to an arbitrary sense of what beauty is, and b) called G-Spot, aka a sexual term indicating a spot on the female body solely interested in a woman’s pleasure (ahem… in case anyone was still wondering… sex isn’t only defined by the male orgasm. Go get some, girl.).
I know I said I wasn’t going to talk about marketing, but to me there is something super-feminist about Clinique’s brand identity that refuses to just be about women ages 18-30. Clinique is for everyone.
It’s my mom’s favorite makeup brand because she doesn’t feel condescended to when she uses it, and — in an industry that places an unfair premium on a woman’s age —you don’t have to be young (or old!) to feel comfortable and supported buying Clinique products. So, because my badass mom raised two feminist girls, whenever I wear Clinique, I feel feminist AF.
Do you have a treasure trove of products that make you feel like Queen Bey at the 2014 VMA's? Do you think beauty products are inherently anti-feminist? Let's talk about it.