Though we now live in a world where women have infiltrated, nay, blessed the workforce with their presence, it takes nothing more than a glance into the recent past to see a time when positions of leadership simply weren’t an option if you were a woman. Even as women came out of the home, being in the workforce at first meant playing a supporting role in a system dominated by men. In many cases it still does.
With options expanded, it only makes sense that a woman who grew up with a mother who cooked and cleaned and mothered because it was nonnegotiable may come to view these tasks as symbolic of an oppressive system that she no longer has to be a part of.
Maybe this is you or someone you know — the woman who feels averse to learning to sew, wants nothing to do with household chores, or maybe even has a sense of pride in not knowing how to bake a proper cake.
This can be a powerful expression for women now. They don’t have to be domestic in order to be feminine. They don’t have to make it — they can buy it.
And whatever kind of power a woman wants to own, she should own.
But this sort of ‘Lean In’ feminism — that is, Sheryl Sandberg’s feminism which encourages women to seek power through becoming more like men — may not benefit all of us, all of the time. We’re here today to talk about another way to express feminism.
It sounds like empowerment, telling women that abandoning their female tendencies for more traditionally male characteristics will help them succeed in the workforce — ie, achieve higher salaries and positions of power.
Take for example, I’m Just Not Sorry, a Google Chrome App Extension that aims to help women write emails that are less apologetic. Once you download the app, you’ll see words in your email drafts underlined as if they’re misspelled — words like ‘actually,’ ‘try,’ and ‘just.’
Tami Reiss, CEO of software company ‘Cyrus Innovation,’ created this app to help solve the problem that she and many other women face: they come across as lacking confidence in the workplace. They say sorry too much. They undermine their own authority.
And in some ways, this app addresses a realistic hindrance to women realizing success because they discredit themselves before other people have a chance to.
But another thing this app does is essentially tell women how to act (more like men.) Instead of appreciating the compassionate communication style that’s commonly or stereotypically female and recognizing the value of the emotional intelligence they bring to the workforce, it asks them to please speak more like men if they want to gain any respect.
This belief that women need to be more like men in order to powerful goes hand in hand with the thought that abandoning all things domestic makes you a more powerful woman.
But for those women who do delight in creating, crafting, and concocting, these practices can be just as powerful an expression.
In fact, what if I told you that learning to make your own skincare is a way to stand up for female empowerment?
In a very direct way, it is.
Who runs the beauty industry?
In 2012 when Forbes published an article on the top 10 beauty brands, author Jenna Goudreau reported that the beauty industry was worth $382 billion globally. The top three companies — Estee Lauder, Nivea, and Shiseido are all run by men. Go further down the list of these companies that are marketing products primarily to women and you’ll find men occupying most positions of power.
Now beauty isn’t just something created by an industry in order to sell you things. Companies certainly take advantage of the female quest for beauty, but queens as far back as Cleopatra famously donned makeup and practiced beauty rituals not to please a man — but for her own pleasure and self-expression. And before there was L’Oreal or MAC, Grecian women used lead to lighten their complexions (yikes!) and mulberries to stain their lips.
Using makeup can be an expression of self-love, allowing women (and men for that matter) to play up those features that we love about ourselves. Skincare similarly allows us to take care of our skin — keeping it luminous, healthy, and free of irritation.
But beauty brands don’t want you to love yourself.
They want you to feel obligated to buy each now cream, potion, and palette that they introduce to the market. They want you to think that their new ingredient or technology is the answer to your insecurity.
Each time we spend money with these companies, we support this. We say yes to companies that don’t put females in positions of power. Not to mention all the other stuff — where do they source their ingredients from? Do they pay their workers adequately? What kinds of causes do they donate to? Not to mention that many if not most of the ingredients used by big brands are synthetic, untested and often harmful (read: irritating, hormone disrupting, and even potentially carcinogenic).
So by learning how to use natural ingredients to nourish your own unique skin’s needs and create formulations that rival what you’ve long been paying for, you can stand up to this industry.
But for a lot of women, making things has lost its appeal.
Given that not cooking, not cleaning, and otherwise not tending to the house used to hardly be an option for women, it makes sense that many of us feel averse to these things now.
But what we’ve been working towards is equality, not mimicry. If a woman wants to delight in making pizza dough from scratch and topping it with homegrown basil, we should consider that a triumph because it is now her choice. She doesn’t need to shy away from historically female things in order to be a feminist.
In essence, we can now celebrate these practices as the crafts that they are, rather than the duties that they once were.
Let us not forget that the first beer brewers were in fact women, not to mention the first herbalists and gardeners (archeological and anthropological history shows that women actually INVENTED agriculture). In this way women are the purveyors of some of the most lucrative products and meaningful practices that exist in our society today. So why not own it?
I recently read something in Darling Magazine that struck a chord. They were interviewing the women behind the Women’s Heritage Skillshare, who have created a venue to share their love of crafts. Namely, animal husbandry, herbalism, and cooking.
“It feels like big brands are trying to take away our ability to make what they are selling” comments Lauren, who brings the animal husbandry component to the WHS. She continues: “When I take the time to understand how something is made and/or I know what ingredients are going in it, I feel so much more connected to whatever it is I’m making.”
This was really meaningful to me, as someone who has seen how boutique DIY skincare can transform not only a woman’s skin but her relationship to her beauty routine as well.
As women, we are the original makers, and continuing to make can be a beautiful expression of feminism.
So where do we start?
Quick! Throw away every piece of makeup or skincare you own and learn how to make it all yourself!
Just kidding, of course.
I am all too familiar with the experience of testing out DIY skincare recipes from the internet and suffering from some unfortunate results. There are many well-meaning bloggers out there who don’t have the in-depth knowledge required to teach people how to make their own skincare.
Consider that your skin is your largest organ. It performs several important functions in addition to being one of the first signals to the outside world as to the state of your health.
There’s a lot going on there.
Consider also that your skin is uniquely yours, and may also have different needs according to the changing seasons or even where you are in your cycle. So a recipe you find online has a lot of potential to not be the right recipe for you.
There are few aestheticians out there who have devoted themselves to learning and understanding skincare ingredients and formulations. Even fewer who have made the effort to share their knowledge with the world. When I realized this, I saw a place where I could make a difference by sharing what I know.
If you’ve thought about making your own skincare — or maybe even tried some DIY skincare recipes from online with less than stellar results, I wanted to let you know about a free mini course I just created to help you get started. It’s called Boutique Skincare Basics.
In this course, you’ll learn the mistakes that many people make when they try to create their own skincare. You’ll learn how to make boutique quality products with totally natural ingredients — products that address your individual skin concerns to reveal the brilliant complexion that you want. It’s totally possible and I’d love for you to experience the same results that I did, results that helped me feel confident in my skin — confident enough to make helping other women fix their skin a part of my business.
I’m offering it for free because I’d like for you to achieve the same results. You can sign up below:
Have you made your own DIY skincare?
Scroll to the bottom of this article and let me know in the comments!
*Cleopatra image by Georges Jules Victor Clairin – , Public Domain