Feminist Beauty Blogger

One evening while on the phone with my older sister about fourteen years ago when I was 10-years-old, we stumbled into the topic of feminism.

“Well, what is a feminist?” I asked.

“A feminist is someone who believes men and women should have equal rights,” she informed me. I immediately adopted the title and never looked back.

It’s time to examine the connection between my two selves: A Champion of Equality Who Also Loves Makeup.

Raising Hell

Earlier this week, I read No Man’s Land on The Citizen Rosebud. She questioned why there aren’t more bloggers examining fashion through a feminist lens. I felt compelled to begin to answer this question as someone.

As a teenager, I was a tough girl who read Sylvia Plath and listened to Ani DiFranco. A girl who spoke out at Catholic school about a woman’s right to choose and the importance of being a vegetarian. I still am that, but my interests have expanded from being a label to influencing true social change. Over a year ago, I fell in love with makeup after my friend applied brown liner to my lids. I felt confident and creative. A deeply creative person, I see makeup as another way to express myself.

Being a beauty blogger doesn’t make me any less of a feminist.

Feminism is constantly evolving to include a diverse range of social justice issues such as racial tensions, access to higher education and raising the minimum wage. These are all issues we deal with not only as women but as a society. To me, feminism always has been about equality in all facets of life, not what’s just in a fashion magazine.

Social Justice and Beauty

The following is a list of articles I’ve written that tackle critical issues related to beauty.

So tell me, are you a feminist?

About Courtney Mirenzi

Courtney Mirenzi is the voice behind Those Graces. She has been named one of the 50 Most Fashionable People in Boston, one of The Boston Globe's Top Bloggers and favorite human of one of her cats. She loves red lipstick, hiking and traveling. Find out more.

If you like what you've read here, consider following on Twitter and Facebook.

    Comment to share your thoughts

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  1. Cynthia Summers says:

    I get that make-up can make people feel beautiful but it can also make people feel lots of different (positive) ways for lots of different reasons – like fashion. I’m a feminist. You can, in fact, be a fashionist (lol) and a feminist. I even wrote feminist blog.

  2. This is a fantastic thread! I love the dialog and how, despite differing opinions, people are respectful and open to others’ ideas.

    I’m a feminist. And unapologetic about it. I don’t mention it often, but it’s part of who I am. I’m a brand new blogger, so I haven’t had a lot of opportunity to write about fashion and beauty through a feminist lens, but it’s a great idea.

    I enjoy fashion and I don’t think being a “creative fashion type” precludes one from feminist ideals. I’ve never thought of the two as mutually exclusive, although I do think about fashion and how it’s related to the messages we send and how fashion advertising shapes our thinking. I’d like to think most of us are smarter than the ads we see.

    • It was a very respectful conversation that spurred many other blog posts so I was quite inspired by what happened as a result of this post.

      I think you should give the lens a go! See where it goes and if you like it.

      I think as consumers, we have to start being smarter about what we see. I refuse to be a victim of advertising just because I don’t know any better.

  3. Haha,

    I’m a feminist. I don’t know why but people seem to be turned off from the fact that I love being independent and happy to be on my own. I don’t think that’s necessarily feminism but according to some people I know if you open your own doors and carry your own things you’re suddenly “independent”. I think its silly, but whatever. I think its better to be a feminist than have to answer to someone else. Do you ever feel irritated by the label?

    ~newscutouts

    • My blog ate my comment back to you! Here we go again:

      Thank you for commenting :)

      Sometimes I get irritated about the label because I very much own being a feminist and am proud of the word. I get irritated when people I would consider feminists don’t consider THEMSELVES feminists.

  4. Great post. I’ve long been bother by people who act like my love and fashion and other “girly things” makes me somehow a conformist to the way society expects women to act. I happen to love fashion, sewing, knitting, cooking — things generally associated with home economics, etc. But I do those things because I like them, not because I’m a woman and should stay in the kitchen.

  5. Hi! I stumbled upon your blog when I saw you were included in the links a la mode for this week (as am I, PSYCHED!). I am absolutely super interested in a view on fashion that is more embedded in an intellectual approach, be it feminism, anti consumerism, anti racism or whatever else. On one hand, fashion is just fashion, but on the other it has very wide implications and it’s also a symptome of certain negative aspects of our culture.
    I like branching out in my posts to include the way I think in the way I dress. I did a post on why fashion helps me express myself as a person, and how I will never let anyone influence the way I dress just because I’m expected to look a certain way, unless I want to give them that right myself. I own my life.

    Sort of feminist, no? :D

    • Congrats on LALM!

      I think there’s definitely a lot of controversy about this topic of “Is fashion political?” I don’t think it’s going to be resolved ever.

      I’ll have to check out your blog and see those posts.

      I’m glad you enjoyed :)!

  6. Not only is this a great post, and an excellent response to the question of where are feminists in fashion, I am stoked to see that it made links ala mode! Congrats. Here’s to the start of some very interesting conversations. You rock.

  7. I would say absolutely! My femininity, interests and lifestyle choices should never interfere with equality between genders. I expected to be treated for what I bring to each situation not for whether I’m wearing gender neutral pants or a pink frilly dress and lipstick. I live my life accordingly. I can outride most people on my snowboard, I’ve changed brakes on a car and I can knit and sew. My life, my choices. Good food for thought, Courtney. Glad to see your post made in the round-up.

  8. Hi Courtney,

    I just found your blog today through the IFB (you left your link as a possible submission for the 3rd, you should def get in!)
    Just wanted to say I really enjoyed this post as well as the following comments. I wont say anymore on that as im not as passionate about the topic of feminism as yourself or claire,(not that I dont care!)
    I also scrolled through a few of your last posts and I enjoy your style of writing immensely! Looking forward to reading more from you and hopefully see you linked in Thursday’s weekly roundup x

    • Thank you for all your kind compliments–you’re so sweet! I’m glad you enjoyed my blog and hope you’ll come back soon. Please feel free to comment on things you find interesting!

  9. Truth is, feminism is a lot more and complex than just equality between the sexes. I was a hardcore feminist once. I even wrote feminist blog. But I once I started studying feminism, gender and patriarchy as a subject, I no longer wish to label myself as a “feminist”. Not that I despise the term and it makes me look like a man-hating bitch. I have issues with the way feminism is approached, with the movement and the term itself. I won’t say my views are changed. My views are evolved now.

    • Aurpera–I have to say that on some level I am disheartened when I hear “I no longer consider myself a feminist.” I think words are powerful and, even more, the ways we define them for ourselves. There’s a lot of things I don’t agree with about the current wave of feminists, but that doesn’t stop me from calling myself a feminist and holding myself to standards I believe in. As far as terms, I think it’s important for people to define their identity for themselves not only in opposition to others. For example, someone who considers himself/herself a liberal may have totally different views than someone else who also uses the same term.

      • I absolutely agree with your disappointment Courtney. While I have issues with some of her opinions, I do think Caitlan Moran was spot on in “How To Be A Woman” when she stressed how vital it was that we not let the word feminism be tainted, taken away from us. Just because I’m not like a lot of other women doesn’t mean I’ll stop calling myself a woman, and just because I don’t agree with a lot of feminists does not mean I will take my support away from that either. It’s too important.

        • That’s a great point! Words are so powerful and it’s important to always keep in mind when people basically try to hijack them and change their meanings, which is what’s happened to feminism I think

  10. I think the only potential problem I have with what you say is that you draw make-up directly under ‘beauty’. Striving for beauty’s not a bad goal, but then again it’s a very loaded, interpretable word and the ‘beauty industry’ has done and still plays a lot of harmful tricks. I’ve not visited your blog before so I don’t know how you frame it but I guess I just have a problem with the term “fashion & beauty”. Fashion’s something that gets put on, but “beauty”.. it’s a much heavier term that can and often does relate directly to a person’s unchangeable, physical body. I get that make-up can make people feel beautiful but it can also make people feel lots of different (positive) ways for lots of different reasons – like fashion. Putting them all under beauty, meaning ‘make-up’ when you say ‘beauty’, it suggests a kind of undefined homogenous pressure that seems, to me, to be rooted in some of the more unfriendly, nonfeminist areas of modern make-up’s history.

    I certainly don’t think you can’t be into make-up AND be a feminist – I DO think that it’s just as hard to do that well as it is to avoid internalised sexism and familiar patriarchy-built habits in any other area of life. How hard? Very! Good on you for being public about trying.

    • >>I think the only potential problem I have with what you say is that you draw make-up directly under ‘beauty’. Striving for beauty’s not a bad goal, but then again it’s a very loaded, interpretable word and the ‘beauty industry’ has done and still plays a lot of harmful tricks.< <

      I totally agree! I was taking the word "beauty" and applying it rather superficially to my own realm, though it definitely warrants a wider cultural interpretation. You're right, the beauty industry is huge and needs to be more defined in the future.

      >>. I’ve not visited your blog before so I don’t know how you frame it but I guess I just have a problem with the term “fashion & beauty”. <<

      I think it’s hard for bloggers sometimes because we get stuck in our community, so to speak. When I said “fashion and beauty,” I did it with the frame of reference for my blogging community, which is often labeled “fashion and beauty.” I’ll do a better job at being more critical of sweeping terms like that in the future. You make extremely good points that warrant more thought on my end.

      I would love to see your take on this topic! It sounds like you’ve done some research and have strong opinions. Link me to the post if you decide to do your take on it.

      • I’m glad you didn’t take my comment as hostile or snooty! I was a bit worried you might, this is a hard topic to talk around. It’s groovy to hear that you took my opinions on semantics seriously, I really believe that language is one of the most important fronts in the many fights against bigotry and inequality.

        Hahaha you’re the second person in blogworld to say I have “strong opinions”, Amy @ CoaFE being the first! I have a ‘strong opinions’ tag on my blog now, as a matter of fact..

        I think it’d be hard to me to write an essay-post asking ‘can you be pro-fashion & pro-woman’ because for me it’s a given that you can and I don’t think I personally could find anything to say on the base question that wouldn’t just further the idea that it’s a question that needs to be asked. If you see what I mean? I think that anything I have to say about feminism within fashion/style/etc will have to come out on specific points, like.. well, at the start of the month I wrote about why I had such a hard time with the idea of carrying “a handbag”, f’rex.

        I’m enjoying the current posts on can you/can’t you – I think that the point that you totally CAN be a fashion feminist is being covered well enough by y’all!

        • Grrl, I’ve been pissing people off for too many years to take any comment poorly! As a writer and researcher, one has to take criticism to become better. I 100% agree that language, in any argument, is key and that’s it’s important to flush out opinions.

          >>I think it’d be hard to me to write an essay-post asking ‘can you be pro-fashion & pro-woman’ because for me it’s a given that you can and I don’t think I personally could find anything to say on the base question that wouldn’t just further the idea that it’s a question that needs to be asked. <<

          I see your point! Like asking a rhetorical question. I think as bloggers and as people we need to represent our beliefs in the actions we take and the ideas we put out into the world.

    • You may be interested in this post as well: http://www.confessionsofafashioneditor.co.uk/

  11. Amy (Confessions of a Fashion Editor) says:

    I just wrote a post about feminism and the fashion industry, and one of my readers linked me this.

    I’m so glad she did – I love your blog, and I agree wholeheartedly with you. If you’re JUST a feminist, you become nothing more than a stereotype. If you’re a stereotype, no one will take you seriously. As a human being, you naturally have wide-ranging interests, and saying categorically that one contradicts another is craziness.

    I’m a feminist; I believe in equality. But I’m also a fashion writer; I wear what I want for ME, not for anyone else. That’s what matters.

    • Oh was that Leia? I saw that on twitter! I’m so glad the article inspired you to write something similar. I just pulled it up and can’t wait to read it.

      Thank you so much for your kind compliments! I totally agree that they are not in conflict. You can, in fact, be a fashionist (lol) and a feminist.

      I’ll leave the rest of my thoughts on your blog :)

  12. Yes I am.

    You should get Katy to push for making this a Friend Friday topic (I’m getting a little bored of more questions about the business of blogging – I feel like I’m answering the same questions all the time!)

  13. Hmm… such an interesting topic. Makes me want to blog on the topic too.

    I consider myself a feminist, although not in the crazy burn bras type of way. And I don’t think a love for fashion and beauty in any way negates feminism. We want to carry ourselves in such a way that says I am strong, powerful, confident. And sometimes the right skirt, dress, or suit with the touch of makeup helps convey that message. By caring about fashion and applying makeup daily I am not asking to be objectified but rather I’m asking people to take notice that I am confident and courageous, that I live my life based on the values I espouse and not what someone else tells me.

    At the same time, I think it is interesting that you and Bella wonder where all the feminist bloggers are. We are out there, but I don’t think we need to be throwing the word feminism around in order to be recognized as such. We lead by example showing through out blogs the way we live our lives.

    Anyway… just my random thoughts on the subject… I seriously might need to flesh this out into a post. – Katy

    • You definitely should share your thoughts on the subject. I think a lot of people assume that because one likes fashion and beauty means they aren’t a feminist. Not true!

      I think what you said about fashion in makeup is very powerful. They’re tools to enhance, not cover up, your personality.

      I’m wish you on the last comment you made–a lot of us our feminists, but you would never know it. On a similar note, I’ll repeat what I said below by saying that I actually don’t liek feminist blogs, which could be why I don’t write a feminist blog.

  14. People who think fashion and feminism are mutually exclusive must be very confused indeed. To me fashion represents the greatest opportunity to advance women’s rights. To me, Chanel was the ultimate feminist not just because she was a confident businesswoman but because she gave women clothes they could actually move in. Her influence on the advancement of women is unparalleled but because she is a fashion designer she is not recognized as such in the history books. I took several courses in feminist history and theory in university–why was Chanel not taught to me?

    Sometimes, I think women who take care of their appearance are taken less seriously. Look at Angelina Jolie: the woman is a saint and takes a truly feminist approach to her craft by playing strong women in films that challenge the way women are treated. Yet people don’t trust her and I think it’s because she’s good looking.

    P.S. I have that book Bitchfest!

    • Such an interesting subject here!

      That’s so interesting what you wrote about Chanel. I don’t know much about her other than the basics, but Coco Before Chanel just arrived from Netflix yesterday so I’ll have to give you my opinion on Monday!

      That is interesting that truly revolutionary women like her are left out of not only the history books but also out of the HERstory books.

      I agree with you that fashion and feminism are not mutually exclusive. The original question Bella posed–where are all the fashion blogs with a feminist view–I don’t think there necessarily has to be a feminist view on fashion. To me, I have a feminist view on life and that is not exclusive to fashion–if that makes sense.

  15. Courtney: what a fantastic post and great start on this topic- feminism, fashion, and blogging. I am bookmarking this page, and am definitely going to be passing this around to others who are interested in this discussion.

    While I consider myself a feminist,I am not a feminist fashion blogger but that doesn’t mean I don’t put elements of my beliefs in my blogging but it isn’t the same. My focus as a blogger is more on sustainable and local style, but recent conversations with my good friend who is an ardent Feminist, a good writer and conversationalist (feministified.blogspot.com) really got me thinking. Then googling, and I was really surprised to see a drop off the mix of these two subjects in the last 2 years.

    I am ready to take part in this discussion. Perhaps add this filter to the focus of my blog. I’m not sure what direction these talks may take me,but I am confident we are all better for opening the discussion.

    Thanks so much for weighing in on this! -Bella Q
    the Citizen Rosebud

    • Thanks so much! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Your original post really made me think and question, “Yeah, why aren’t there more feminist fashion bloggers? Where do I stand?”

      I think your post was a great launching point and I truly hope more women AND men start to think about these important questions.

      There’s a whole lot to be said about feminist blogging. Too much for a little comment box! To be brief, this is what I’ll say: I’m a feminist based on text and well researched books with a few pop-culture books thrown in. I’ve tried to follow feminist blogs, but it seems like all they want to focus on is Lady Gaga and Bristol Palin. I am just not interested!

      I’m excited to see what you come up with! I have you on my RSS feed now so I’ll keep any eye out for future posts on the subject.

  16. I am absolutely a feminist (as well as a vegan and an advocate for social change) and I have a fashion and makeup blog. And I do not think that one somehow negates the other in any way.

    xoxo ~ Courtney
    http://sartorialsidelines.blogspot.com

  17. I’m not 100% sure I’d consider myself a feminist, though I agree all people should have the potential to take advantage of opportunities equally, whether they use that potential or not is on them. I also believe our society has been based on a patriarchal model for so long, it’s going to take an equally long time if not longer to change that, so I try to be as womanly as I possibly can be while doing my damnedest to get everything I want, need and deserve no matter who or what tries to hold me back.

  18. Yes, yes I am!

    I think you raise an interesting point here about being a feminist who likes make-up; as someone who identifies as a feminist (much to the dismay of many acquaintances) I find it so tricky to tread the line between fashion and feminism that the latter rarely gets a look-in. I have written the occasional post on the way women are represented, but am always cautious.

    May need to mull this one over a while longer…!

    • Why do you think you hold back from writing about the representation of women in fashion and beauty?

      I would love to see what you have to say on this subject :)!

      • Sorry – I haven’t got into the habit of checking back on posts!

        I suppose what I meant was: I’m happy to write about the representations of women in editorials and fashion advertisements, as though that is an ‘acceptable’ way to express my views. I’m more cautious that stronger views, or views on stronger topics may come across as stroppy or over-serious. Of course, that’s as much to do with finding your voice as a blogger as expressing your political opinions! I wrote what I refer to as my ‘feminist-lite’ post for Be Fabulous Daily – it was interesting that I found it easier to write it as a guest post than on my own blog. Maybe that’s a way we could all explore the issue!

        Thanks for the link, by the way. :) x

        • No worries! it’s a hard habit to get into. I only check back if I read a blog every day or if I, well, get into a “debate” with someone.

          I think when the time is right, I write about potentially murky issues. I feel a passion inside me that cannot be contained and that’s when I let go of my reservations.

          I didn’t see that post when it first went up and now comments are closed, but I just wanted to say fabulous job! I really enjoyed that. And in response: Most of the comments I get from people at work at compliments from women. My weight gets commented on more than my outfits, which irks me. A man has never commented on my clothes. In any case, I was at the Target pharmacy today and there was this insanely well dressed man. I looked at him and almost said, “Dang, boo, you look sharp!” I held back (fortunately or unfortunately, take your pick!). So sometimes it works both ways.

          • I have GOT to start saying “dang, boo”….

            And I am so over work colleagues convos about weight. Maybe that’ll be the next topic!!

            • Talking to my colleagues about my weight is difficult. I think that may be a topic I tackle when I’m done with my current job position. I know they mean well, but hearing, “Oh you look like you’ve lost weight,” isn’t always a good thing psychologically.

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