Back and Forth – Stumbling Into Being a Feminist Woman

Let’s face it; it is really hard to be a human being. Conforming to the pressures dictated to us by what perceived gender we are is a big job.

Some days I wake up and feel like putting on make up, doing my hair and spending a few minutes to carefully pick an outfit. Most days I wake up, quickly pick some clothes out and throw my hair in a bun. I enjoy both instances but my feelings behind which one I choose are complicated.

I am a feminist. I consider this a huge part of my identity. Just what that means exactly, I am still figuring out.

In high school and early college I dressed how I thought I should, i.e. following everyone else. Then after becoming a sociology/women’s studies major in college (how stereotypical right?) I started to think critically about my choices. That is the double-edged sword of those majors, you become enlightened in so many subjects but once you see it there is no turning back. It is something like having a favorite song but then actually listening to the lyrics and realizing it is just awful. The song never sounds the same.

Back and forth.

When I get up in the morning and get out the door quickly I am thinking, well society’s pressures on women are unfair, why should I waste valuable time into my appearance only to be objectified. But then another voice tells me how I need to put in some effort or people will look at me funny. For people who wear make up you’ll understand those gazes and questions when you don’t wear the make up you normally do.

Are you sick?

You look different today.

So I spiral back into confusion.

That is how I feel about day-to-day instances in my life. My feminist principles push me to examine my choices. At the same time those principles inform me that whatever my choice the most important thing is that it is MY choice.

Back and forth. Pushing society’s norms by going out of my physical appearance comfort zone, running back to them once I get a funny glance.

An ex of mine was quite confused by this. I would get mad at his confusion, and the loop would continue, going back and forth. But it is a hard journey to explain. Now I realize his confusion stemmed from my own. He wondered why sometimes my legs were silky smooth and other days they felt like the legs of Sasquatch. He was confused that once in a while I curled my hair but when he asked me to I got defensive, telling him that I just did not feel like doing my hair and that should not matter.

The big job of conforming to pressures seems less daunting when I remember that it is not just me struggling with these issues. Everyday we all wake up and begin the game. Let’s be honest about how hard it is. These issues are by no way saved just for women. Men I know you are facing similar challenges.

To some these may sound like mundane everyday decisions. But I assure they can be quite stressful. The wrong choice can dictate your day, your place at work, your interaction with the sex of your choice.

Friends, family, to the future people I date and utterly confuse: this is a process.

Back and forth I go. Today make up. Tomorrow? Maybe not. But I realize that if it is what I want then that is the right choice. My feminist carrying card will not be pulled if I wear mascara. And who cares if someone makes a comment about my sometimes-hairy legs. They are mine.

Have you felt this way? Do you go back and forth with how to conform or push back to stereotypes?




*image for this post found at:


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