The Break Up About Makeup

So I don’t often read The Mirror, it’s too closely related to The Sun and it’s mostly just scary fear-mongering bullshit you could pick apart for hate speech as easily as one could pick apart flaky pastry but I saw an article about a school in Manchester that are getting tougher on their makeup ban by having teachers come prepared with wet wipes to rub the makeup right off the faces of their students. Now, as British people, we like to fall into two polarised camps about the most inane shit (A 5p plastic bag charge is reasonable and environmentally conscious/ TAKE THAT SMUG CASHIER OUTSIDE AND KICK HIS TEETH IN FOR CHARGING ME FIVE PENCE) so obviously, this has the same level of division – some say it’s entirely understandable and students shouldn’t wear makeup of any sort and some say it’s unfair to enforce a series of rules designed only to affect female students that discriminates against them on an appearance basis. Where do I fall? Guess.

Now, I’m going to regale you with some more personal experience stories, because that is clearly very interesting. In my school days, I was not a feminist, I believed a woman had all the same rights as a man so by that definition I was but I could be prone to some deep-rooted casual sexism that a young man picks up in a male-dominated culture. One such sexist belief reflected itself when our school tightened the rules on makeup to include absolutely no foundation or mascara of any sort, plain face, aside from brushed hair and clean teeth, that’s your face done. The female body of students, or at least a good chunk of them, organised a sit-in protest on the playground and my initial reaction, at that time, was to laugh thinking “How pathetic, they’re really going to waste everyone’s time just so they can keep their precious face paint? Morons”. I thought it insignificant, not worth debate and when the protest fall apart after one particularly strong-worded ultimatum from a teacher, I laughed my teenage ass off. This big protest, I thought, fell flat at the first hurdle, well that says something for the people stupid enough to get involved in it that they wouldn’t defend it more stubbornly, seems even they know they’re time-wasters. Looking back on that, that’s not fair of me to say that about them and though the protest ultimately didn’t even last a day, the cause was valid, they were students not wanting to get into trouble at school is all. Well, allow me now to make amends.

Now, it may come as a surprise to some of you but when a woman wears make up or revealing attire, it isn’t always for the attention of others, especially when she is young. As a teenage girl hitting the ever so lovely stage of puberty, that girl’s face and body undergo a lot of changes, some that will empower her and some that will make her feel awful. Oh hey, that goofy roundish chubby child face has slimmed out? I look good… except it is covered in enough spots to look like a dot-to-dot of the Mona Lisa. Good thing I have this AMAZING PRODUCT THAT SUBTLY HIDES ALL OF THOSE IMPERFECTIONS… only that’s not allowed. You might say well hey, boys don’t get concealer, they have to endure a puberty of strained voices and greasy faces, why shouldn’t girls? Well, there’s not as much pressure on boys for their appearance as there is for girls, teenage boys aren’t supposed to be hot yet by societal standards, we accept that there are cute boys and hunky men but teenage boys are hideous and everyone is cool with that, aside from the odd joke. Teenage girls? Well that’s when a girl stops being a girl to society and becomes sexualised, it’s when people start mentally undressing her and wondering what kind of woman she’ll be. With men, it is not as obvious at what stage they are in their development, we don’t exactly all stand around like “Jim’s grown a few inches down there… he’s looking good” but we do notice that suddenly Ginger Katie got boobs and now everyone’s trying to convince her they never once called her Ginger Minge. The pressure mounts and with puberty varying from person to person, women can much more readily be left feeling weird and excluded than teen boys. All teen boys, bar the exceptionally lucky and unlucky, are spotty-faced sweat machines with weird voices but teen girls? Casey got hot, Sophie got super spotty, Tara currently has the biggest bust in all Year Ten, they are compared and criticised by their peers and, in a way, by their teachers. No, I don’t mean in a pervy way, let me clarify.

A female student who wears make-up is seen as masking something, as beguiling people with regards to her looks and depending on the varying degrees, some assume she is either just wearing a little to look good or a lot because she’s a full-on sexual deviant. The same is true of girls who wear short skirts at school, is she just a girl in a skirt or is she trying to catch the eyes of the boys? The students ponder this but so do teachers, who will then criticise overly… glamourous(?) students for “distracting the students”. This, this I hate, and no not because I enjoy oggling teenagers, don’t be so crude. If you send a female student away from a lesson to rub makeup off and wash her face, you send her out of class for ten minutes and that’s ten minutes of lesson time she’s missed and a lesson learnt in that your self-confidence in your appearance is less important than this class. I do so hate the school system for breaking down individuality into “Learn subject material and learn to regurgitate it on cue, the more you can memorise, the more you’re worth” and I understand arguments in defense of uniform appearance but this gets worse. The makeup, bad but worse than this, the classic “Go home and change, you are distracting the boys”

What?

1. I would rather discriminate against one girl than try to teach the future generation of men that they should not stare up skirts

2. Rather than punish the boys for perving on their fellow student and allowing themselves to be distracted from their education, it makes more sense to take you out of school for an hour because your education means less to me than theirs

3. I am telling you to change your appearance FOR THEIR SAKE. I am teaching you that your body is not your own, it is subject to the thoughts and perversions of men. If your appearance distracts a man, you are at fault.

With the pressure on girls to look good, they try just that, be it to feel good or to fit in, but we pin blame on them for trying too hard or not trying enough. Concealer and foundation, which do not distract a man, are not attempts to be fashionable but to cover over spots and flaws they know they will be bullied for having. I was a lucky youth, I wasn’t particularly spotty and where I was spotty, fell under my fringe so no fucker could tell most of the time, but if I had a face covered in enough spots to make a dalmation vomit, I’d want something to remedy the solution too. Don’t tell me Clearasil and Oxy and whatever are the answer, you try that shit, it takes six weeks to kick in and all it does is make the bastards a shade less red. Awesome, guess I’ll invest in a good paper bag. Women are forced into a lifelong beauty pageant, whilst school for boys is a battleground, school for girls is a Miss Universe contest so no shit they want to cover up that zit that looks like it needs its own postcode. Boys, we just comb our hair, wash our junk and spray deodorant, that is it, that is as hot as we can hope for but nobody gives a shit. Girls, unless teen you look like how films portray teen girls (As basically “You’ll hope I’m 18 or you’ll feel so weird watching me strut around in shorts”), you can bet cruelty will circle around you.

Oh, and one more thing, can we talk about how female teachers, in makeup, say makeup is unacceptable in a school? Teachers have their own dress code sure, but if we’re saying that makeup is a distraction, why is it only a distraction on teen girls? Doesn’t distract boys when teachers wear it, ever thought maybe teen boys don’t care? If they do, why are teen boys never challenged? This is my biggest thing, why was I never challenged? I recall one incident in which a student at my school, whom was quite attractive, had water spilt down her shirt and it revealed the bra she had on underneath. The teacher ushered her out and told her to go get a clean shirt and stop causing a scene and that she shouldn’t be wearing a bra that’d show so clearly under a white shirt. Yeah, her UNDERWEAR was not in line with school code, for being a bold colour that’d show up should she spill water down herself. She left, teacher looks to the lads who are of course discussing her bra and I happened to be sat near this group. Do we get told off or told to grow up? Nope, just “Alright class, settle down, let’s continue…”. WHAT? I didn’t care then but I care now, why aren’t they being called out on sexualising a fellow student and discussing her in an inappropriate manner but she’s a trouble-maker for wearing underwear? She didn’t start a wet t-shirt contest, she didn’t plan to perform a burlesque routine, she just happened to go “I’ll wear the black bra today”, that was that. She wasn’t distracting the boys, the boys distracted themselves with a lengthy discourse about tits, challenge THAT behaviour.

In summary, I don’t see makeup and short skirts as being a huge distraction, if anything making them banned in schools makes them a distraction when someone doesn’t adhere to that rule, as all rule-breaking behaviours are. Boys are not animals, if they care about their education they will not let blue eye shadow detract from that and if they don’t care well then hey, you are either a teacher/parent, make them care. If boys are so easily distracted by a short skirt, rein them in, don’t teach them that women are to blame for their minds straying, teach them how to focus, teach them that they’re going to encounter makeup and short skirts and attractive women for the rest of their lives, they can’t let themselves be distracted by it and they can’t think it acceptable to stare at their peers like they’re rotisserie chickens. Let teenage girls be teenage girls, let them build confidence in their appearance and in turn, let teenage boys know the difference between right and wrong.

On Dorian Gray and I

Trigger Warnings – Discussion of body image

Shocking news, Jacob Wolfe has been invited to a party for once and will not be posting at the usual time because instead he will be eating nibbles and standing in a room full of people dressed as vampires and/or zombies. I think the most shocking part of that story isn’t the theme of the party, being a Halloween party after Halloween, but that I’m actually attending a social event that isn’t just a work social or a family birthday bash. Being a Halloween party, I had to have a costume, something I’ve managed to avoid for a few years now but alas, festivity has caught me and is squeezing my balls and telling me to put on a pretty outfit so after batting around a few ideas such as Wolverine, Van Helsing, Gomez Addams (felt that was dumb without a Morticia on my arm) and Jon Snow, I eventually settled on something a little more unique, Dorian Gray. Okay, I’m not the first guy ever to pick this outfit but the odds of me finding someone in the same costume are pretty obscure and whilst it does involve the prop of a portrait, it’s a flippin’ good portrait a friend did for me, I’m going the whole hog so screw it.

As a man who often reads too much into things, I found myself wondering why I settled on Dorian Gray. Dorian Gray is of course the short novel by Oscar Wilde about a handsome young man who sells his soul to stay young and handsome forever after a friend tells him to enjoy his youth and live life to the full. Corrupted, Dorian Gray abandons his virtues and indulges in a life of passion and sin, with a portrait of him made by his honest friend Basil aging in Dorian’s place, reflecting every sin and foul deed in its painted surface. Dorian eventually grows weary of this life of selfishness, his wickedness spreading death and disaster in his social circle and so he destroys the painting, dying naked and decrepit on the floor. Dorian Gray is a classic story about the balance of good and evil and the dangers of living a life solely revolving around vice or virtue, that life is a mixture of all things and that no matter what we do, we must embrace the consequences of our lifestyle choices and the responsibilities of our actions.

So Dorian Gray, why him? The boy is fair-haired and I’m not, the boy is smooth-faced and I’m not, the boy is tall and thin and I’m not. Well, it is one of my favourite books, that’s a start. I dunno, picking a literary character seems a bit pretentious I’ll admit and without the prop of my portrait, I just know people would assume I’m a vampire because my costume is basically a rather gothic suit. Part of me considers that I chose Dorian Gray because I associate myself with him, not in the homoerotic subtext kinda way that the uncensored book has (because another theme of this book is struggling with sexual identity and Dorian basically fancies Lord Henry, who symbolises a romantic vision of freedom as opposed to loyal old Basil who represents traditional values)  but on a different level that I shall explain to you now

I’m not meaning to brag but I like to think that between ages 15 and 18, I was quite handsome. Slender, reasonable height amongst my peers, long thick black hair and nice cheekbones, as well as a six pack under my shirt, believe it or not. I was, however, an asshole up until about age 17, I was selfish, vain and saw people around me as means to ends so in a sense, I was like the corrupted Dorian, I was good-looking and charming but I had no soul to me. I look in the mirror now, or rather at photos when I was trying to model for this portrait via selfies, that I do not look like that anymore. My face, no longer a sloping shape, is round and the beard serves to hide my chin which has become more bulb shaped. The six pack is gone and in its place is a pudgy little gut that sticks out over the top of my belt rather than my previous issue of “No belt holds my trousers up, woe is me”. The strength I once used to be feared as the school nutcase has gone and I run myself ragged just taking the bins out and what was once a frightening and intimidating man that commanded respect is the butt of every joke and smiling amiably, albeit in a forced manner, to everyone. However, I feel I am fundamentally more likeable and down-to-earth than my pretty boy past self, I have more soul, I’m more intelligent, I am not young forever but I have an honest soul to me.

Does this sound vain and daft? Comparing myself to Dorian Gray? Maybe, but I think Dorian is a character I can relate to, a man who struggles between worlds of influence whilst trying to maintain a dandy self-image and handsome appearance, perhaps some still consider me a good looking man and truth be told it could be worse, all I’ve got weighing on me is some tummy fat and thinning hair, it’s hardly a debilitating thing to live with but personally I don’t feel attractive. I can probably get over this with some exercise and a better diet, recently came to the realisation I comfort eat cinnamon buns when I’ve had a hard day, those sticky devils will kill me, but I feel awkward exercising alone and stupid exercising with a partner or in a group. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t

Ah well, I’ll go to the party, I’ll enjoy myself, I’ll be a slightly chunky Dorian Gray with facial hair he won’t shave off entirely for fear of his less-attractive chin and I don’t imagine anyone saying anything like “Aren’t you a bit short/pudgy/hairy for Dorian?”, heck, I doubt the guests will guess, thus the prop to help but honestly, I find a disappointingly high number of people know nothing of Oscar Wilde and that saddens me

…Ok, that was pretentious

A Real Man Likes

Trigger Warnings – Discussions of body image, eating disorders, fat and skinny shaming (Not me taking part in it I should add, as in the article covers these issues)

I’m sure it comes as no surprise to anyone that the media has been feeding us false standards of beauty and perfection for generations and as such the definition of attractive is subject to the definition of attractive on the red carpet. Once upon a time it was average builds, then skinny builds, with larger women being disregarded as ugly but now it seems being curvy is cool and being skinny is a sin. You hear the phrase “Men like curves, dogs go for bones” or “I like a girl with a bit of meat on her” and don’t get me wrong, big is beautiful, but there’s a heinous double-standard emerging as we begin to love the skin we’re in and it’s an aggressive policy that leaves us all for losers

You’re probably well aware where I’m coming from, the words Nicki Minaj and Meghan Trainor are actually going to appear on my blog and yeah, break down the lyrics to their songs and the jist of it is that big butts are in, flats are out. I understand the empowerment of larger women with these songs, they’ve endured a life of being called names so it is indeed satisfying to have something to throw back at the pretty girls by calling them twiggy bitches or skinny little tarts but the solution to bullying isn’t to find some way of bullying your bully, that’s not how it works. Sure, you could hack that big jerk’s Facebook account and put up a status about his sexual conduct but then he finds you, pounds you into mince meat and you’re no better off, until you step it up and hack something else and there you go in a cycle of hatred. Larger ladies, you are gorgeous yes, I’m sure, but if you were bullied by a skinny girl for your looks then she was probably just buying into the standards of beauty drilled into her head by magazines and television and ensured her own security by tearing yours apart, don’t resort to doing the same thing

Our society had always placed skinny on a pedestal above not-so-skinny, making slim the standard to aspire for and heck, as petty as it sounds, I’m conscious about my weight because my gut is noticeably pudgier than it was in my school days. In the modern age, it’s become more about the full-figure than the fine and whilst individually people might get called harsh terms, on the whole, skinny shaming is now a thing and larger women celebrate confidence. Terrific, great, but songs like “Anaconda” and “All About That Bass” make one crucial mistake that makes them less about celebration and more about turning the tables on the bullies and making them feel small – skinny-shaming lyrics

The songs run along the basic premise of men preferring a bigger girl because she’s got more to hold onto than a skinny girl so skinny girls should just give up and accept the fact they’re not in fashion anymore. Firstly, a woman’s body shape should never be about pleasing others, if you’re a happy pear shape or happy hourglass shape, great, that’s that. Secondly, a man likes whatever a man likes and if your best feature to present to this man is which bits of you stand out on your silhouette line, rethink your priorities. Heck, your body isn’t for the pleasure of men, especially if you’re not interested in men, why give a flying fig what they want? Spoiler alert, men find what they want fine as it is, I represent my gender when I say we don’t need telling what we want – real man like curves, not bones? Fuck that, curves or bones, it’s all good, don’t tell me it’s one or the other! Personally, not to sound like some sort of douche but body shape is one of the last things I give a flip about when considering a woman’s attractiveness. Your body shape is not a measure of your worth and your worth should not be based upon tearing someone else down – why do you have to call someone fat/thin to feel good about being fat/thin yourself? You can feel proud of something without destroying the pride of others but these songs like to ridicule girls who are skinny, something that isn’t necessarily a choice they consciously made (Eating disorder/Can’t gain weight/Chronic illness are but three reasons that come to mind), as twiggy bitches (Much like Fat Amy in Pitch Perfect. Score for pride yes, but calling them bitches doesn’t make you better than them Amy)

So if I’m gonna call out these two full-figured idols for their slander, what do I propose instead? Am I here saying give the pretty girls a break? Yes and no, I’m saying we should all give each other a break really, fat or thin, short or tall, you need only like who you are and that’s all it should be, your body does not exist to please others. If you feel unhappy, think carefully why you do and what you can do to make yourself feel better but do it because you want it for yourself, not because you think it will make you prettier, do what will make you comfortable. Pop industry, you get points for highlighting the fact that not every girl has the figure of Victoria Beckham and that’s ok, well done, took you a while to cotton on but here’s the next step – every body shape is perfectly fine as long as the person in that body feels happy and is healthy. You don’t need songs or films or shows all about making a certain body type seem negative, not every skinny girl is a bitch and not every larger girl is the moody cow in a tracksuit, we don’t need an entire verse of “Fuck them skinny bitches”, we just need more songs that say all body shapes and sizes are fine, be you a boy/girl/trans/genderless/gender fluid or whatever you want to be – be you, be happy, don’t cost other people their happiness to feel good about yourself, it’s not worth it. We need more positive music that inspires people to be happy with who they are. Stick thin, full figured, somewhere in between, we don’t hear enough music that chooses not to focus on our insecurities and instead on our positives

Budding songwriters, there’s your next hit single waiting for you, a song that tells people they’re awesome whatever they might be, be they black, fat or gay, it’s all good. I hope nobody comes away from this article feeling offended, that was not my intention, I merely mean to open our eyes to the truth in that we shouldn’t make ourselves feel good by treating those different to us as our enemies or lessers. Your beauty is your own, it is not enhanced by calling everything else around you ugly, because then all you are is a hurtful person responding to pain with more pain and that’s not what we want. Thank you and goodnight