I’ve been calling myself a feminist for years, I believe in equality, I avoid slut shaming and have been known to call people out for what is commonly known as ‘patriarchal bullshit.’ But sometimes I start to worry, am I a bad feminist?
There are many conflicting opinions when it comes to feminism: Some people believe a feminist shouldn’t wear make up or ‘confine to standard beauty norms.’ Some say it’s not feminist to seek approval from men. Some even say it’s not feminist to shave your legs and armpits. It appears that everyone has opinion on what it is to be a feminist and it can make you wonder whether or not you’re fighting for equality enough or in the right way. . .
I have a very paradoxical relationship with body image and self esteem. For the most part I’m very happy with my appearance, nowadays it’s rare for me to look in the mirror and not be able to point out atleast two things I like about myself. However, I’m also hugely aware that as I’ve gotten older I’ve received more vocal approval of my physical approval, mostly from men and that is most likely a huge factor in the improvement of my confidence. I’ve always believed and tried to enforce that self love should come from within, yet it’s hard to deny that my self esteem is tied very strongly to outside approval. Which is scary and yes, makes me question my ability to think of myself as a good feminist. Because how can a good feminist rely on male approval so heavily?
Although I’ve always been very lucky with my female role models and the women around me have always been strong and inspiring, it’s a worry to me that their words haven’t always sunk in. I was always taught a wonderful perspective on body image; I was told brilliant mantras on self love and approval yet I still find myself needing validation from men.
Of course I know that this is partially biological. I am sexually attracted to men therefore ofcourse their approval has a positive effect on me. But sometimes I worry that it has too much of an effect on me; that I have given it too much power. Because lets be honest, physical attraction is objective. The majority of men I meet won’t find me attractive never mind bother to say it out loud. So what am I meant to do when the vocal validation runs out?
(The obvious answer is get my shit together and learn to love myself anyway.)
I’m not saying the entirety of my self confidence has come from the approval of men but I have definitely benefited from it and I’m still unsure as to whether or not that’s a bad thing. For the most part, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with enjoying outside approval as long as it isn’t your entire reason for feeling good. Loving yourself is really hard sometimes and occasionally everyone needs some reassurance to push them through the hard parts. I guess this is always a conflict I will have to deal with but I think it’s important to remember that enjoying approval from men or anyone else isn’t necessarily a bad thing as long as you don’t allow it to define you. The majority of us will always get a little high out of receiving compliments and as long as they’re respectful I think that’s ok.