Feminism and Botox – the Oxymoron

 

Can you be a ‘Botoxed Bra Burner’? Can you be filled with the outrage of gender inequality as well as a syringe of dermal filler?

At the heart of examining these apparent oxymoron’s is the principle that to be a “good feminist” you have to strip yourself of makeup, razors and aesthetic procedures. However, female empowerment should not be about demonising femininity and associated cosmetic enhancements. Being a feminist should not have to be journey towards androgyny, I would argue quite the opposite. Feminism is about celebrating our gender differences and the freedom and joy they bring. Lipstick Feminism is a new movement which seeks to embrace the traditional concepts of femininity, including the sexual power of women, alongside feminist ideas.

On a personal level, feminism, to me, is drive, success, financial independence, self assurance, confidence and choice. There are two key figures who have shaped my perspective on feminism. The first is Legally Blonde’s Elle Woods. She is strong, independent, intelligent and unashamedly pink and fluffy – why must these character traits be juxtaposed? For me, the two can work in harmony to epitomise women’s autonomy and freedom. I enjoy making the transformation from dentist in scrubs to a dress and heels for my facial aesthetics role.

Why feel you must shed your makeup or refuse facial enhancements because you harbour feelings of guilt, to what positive end does this inner conflict yield? Strength and confidence can be gleaned from making the active choice to have cosmetic treatments and not answering to anyone. The fact that men didn’t take Elle seriously was their problem and underestimating her skills as a lawyer was at their peril. She refused to change her pink scented paper or bejewelled stilettos for anyone and I admire that.

My second feminist role model is the past headmistress of The Cheltenham Ladies College – Vicky Tuck. She is a delicately blended balance of girliness and grit.

She is a woman to be admired – strong, capable and quick witted. She is also the epitome of elegance, the clip of expensive heels would reverberate around the princess hall as she walked onto the stage to talk to the students each morning. Her graduation gown swept effortlessly over the pristine pleats of her glamorous dress. She empowered and inspired generations of young women, making them believe that anything was possible.

I will never forget a quote from her on my first day at the school. A teacher bustled past me with bright pink hair, a patchwork coat and luminous tights. Mrs tuck smiled and simply said “One of our more colourful members of staff.” Feminism is about equality, fairness and most importantly acceptance, not about forcing people to conform, whether that be to enjoy the effects of wrinkle smoothing treatments or not.

I don’t want my clients to feel as if their Botox is a naughty little secret and somehow makes them a victim of societal and social media pressures. I also refuse to be made to feel like the wicked witch with a needle wand, preying on downtrodden women seeking self worth. I take pride in being highly trained to deliver an expert service which makes women look and feel fabulous. It is up to each individual to decide how the beauty and cosmetic industries shape their lives and to what extent they partake.
I do acknowledge and agree that increased pressures from Instagram and other social media has placed undue emphasis on physical perfection. Once we accept that the #flawless lifestyle someone portrays is not reality and simply enjoy the glamorous and captivating images for what they really are, they become far less influential and damaging.

I like to think, in some small way, that the aesthetics industry actually fights back against gender disparity and inflicts its own “pink tax rebate” by charging men more for their Botox to compensate for their stronger facial muscles. This may only go a small way towards balancing up against the increased cost of female clothes, cosmetics and feminine care products but every little helps.

I love women – everything about them. They are the most amazing creatures and I feel privileged to be in an industry where I get to touch so many of their lives in such a personal and intimate way.

Ultimately, the fact that I wrote this article on a pink laptop and I was unable to furrow my brown, in thought, as I did so, doesn’t make me any less of a feminist.