There’s a new feminism in the air — you can call it something between “third-wave” and “I do what I want.” This brand of feminism doesn’t eschew makeup, or new hairstyles, or even plastic surgery: It’s all about women expressing their identities through beauty. While mainstream magazines have traditionally offered a very prescribed, pigeon-holed version of what’s beautiful, a new generation of bloggers and editors is redefining what beauty means — offering a wider diversity of perspectives. Plus-sized women, women of color, women with piercings and tattoos, and everyone in-between can feel comfortable — and beautiful — in this blogosphere.
I interviewed three women who are on the forefront of feminist beauty. Ahead are some highlights of what they had to say about the changes they are making in the industry.
Autumn Whitefield-Madrano, author of The Beheld blog, book author, and freelance writer, says that while beauty rituals shouldn’t feel like a duty, they often do — even to her as a committed feminist. As a feminist who still gets bikini waxes on a regular basis, she feels that she can choose which “society-sanctioned” rituals to undergo, and which to drop.
Annie Tomlin, digital beauty director at Lucky magazine, and author of The Glowhow blog, talked about the Golden Age of the blog being behind us, which she laments. She says blogs expose readers to different perspectives; to women who may not be models or fit a mold of standard beauty, but have a beauty identity of their own that makes them powerful. However, with the rise of Instagram and Snapchat, many “bloggers” actually don’t have blogs at all these days — they bypass the written medium in favor of visual ones. She says she worries about this: It inevitably makes young girls feel like they have to look as perfect as the Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat stars.
Tashira Halyard, author of the Politics & Fashion blog, is also a lawyer and a social justice activist who works at a nonprofit with D.C. kids who are living in poverty. She says her blog combines her two passions, and she is unapologetic about loving both. She discussed the double standards women of color experience when it comes to beauty, as well as cultural appropriation in the beauty and fashion industries (I had to cut this part out for length). For example, the models at a recent Marc Jacobs show wore a hairstyle that some bloggers mistakenly called “twisted buns.” However, in reality, the style is called “bantu knots,” and has its origins in Africa. Halyard discussed the importance of acknowledging your sources of inspiration — whether it’s in fashion, beauty, or music. (She mentioned Justin Bieber as someone who appropriates black mens’ swagger, but hasn’t actually lived through the realities black men experience.)