Wednesday, 22 October 2014

On Putting your Best Face forward

'If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say nothing at all'

Thumper said it. And if I can't trust the advice of a large-eyed, animated rabbit, then quite frankly who can I trust? 

Unfortunately, Thumper lived in a simple world. His best friend was a deer and he skated on icy ponds on his tummy. True, there was always the slight fear of IMMINENT DEATH at the hands of callous hunters or starvation*. But he never had to make a living in the rough, tough world of digital journalism. And, come to think of it, he wasn't a human. Humans have an instinctive feeling that nasty sells. Short term, it's easier to tear holes in something than to add more bricks. Partly because you don't have to find the cement first. 

And here's a nice example of the kind of thing that would make Thumper blush. So that you don't have to click on over, and hand more wood to the nasty firestarters, there follows a brief synopsis. Basically, there's a lady on Youtube making videos. Mostly, these videos are about putting on make-up but she talks about some other things too. The lady in question (Zoella) has gained lots of success with her Youtube videos and now does other things too (including writing books and putting her name to a beauty range). This is grand. Since I mostly watch videos of cats jumping into boxes and the Strange Charm song on Youtube, I can't say I'm overly familiar with her work but it makes lots of people happy and does so with a minimal amount of Jeremy Clarkson. With that in mind, I'm a fan. Or at least generally well-disposed to her. The lady who wrote the article linked above is not a fan. She's not blowing hot and cold, she's not even tepid. She does NOT approve of Zoella's smoky-eye tutorials, or in fact her large eyes full stop. She is very cross about the fact that Zoella has said that young girls should worry less about the way they look and then shown them how to put on lipstick. Instead of lipstick, why not lectures on feminism?

But she misses a few key points. There's nothing wrong with wearing make-up, no matter what you keep in your nethers. But no-one should be pressured into wearing make-up, regardless of nether-and -gender-status. Just like there's nothing wrong with playing World of Warcraft, but no-one should be chained to a computer and forced to choose an avatar. There's nothing wrong with surfboarding, but any activity which involves a wetsuit should be strictly voluntary. There's nothing wrong with wearing high heels, but I will not be held responsible for my actions if I'm essentially forced to walk about on tiptoe all day. Different pain thresholds, and different strokes for different folks.

The application of different coloured goos to your face doesn't change what's inside your skull, it just makes your face a bit more colourful. If you want to paint the world in general, and your face specifically with glitter, that's fine. What's on my face (glitter, eyeliner, strawberry jam) does not make a spot of difference to what comes out of my mouth. Apart from the occasional 'Oh crap, I've laughed my eyeliner off again' or 'But I don't even eat strawberry jam!'.

Wanting to share the things that make us happy: that's what makes us human. Posting videos about how you do your make up is not analogous to going out on midnight guerilla raids with mac lipsticks. People do not wake up in the morning, dazed and confused and with a beautiful scarlet lip that makes their eyes pop. There is no breaking and entering involved, not even into people's heads. They're just videos.

I love me a good feminist chat / rant / role model. But, let's be honest, if the only thing we talk about is feminism then things will become very boring very quickly. Feminism is not just endless self-referential talk but also people going out in the world and being successful on their own terms. It's as least as productive to use the mirror to perfect your contouring as it is to talk to yourself in the mirror about hot political potatoes. Both are valid ways to spend your time. You keep on doing you. Glitter is optional but sparkle is mandatory bay-bay!

*Bambi, on reflection, was quite a hard-hitting cute-creatures romp.

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