Wednesday, January 8, 2014


Did you know that the Girl Scouts offers a fashion and makeup badge? Actually, I think now they call it the science of style badge, which is cool, because hurray science and it's important to know how much lead you're swallowing with your lipstick.

So much lead.
I didn't earn my fashion and makeup badge. My first Girl Scout leader was a pro-body hair hippie and my second leader was more interested in giving me the skills--or lack thereof--to burn $200 worth of bras last Xmas. Neither of them ever gave the troupe the option of spending the afternoon at the Liberty House makeup counter, learning how to bring out the color in our eyes.

I've gone through periods of my life where I'm anti-makeup. I just got through a five-year stretch of not wearing any except for weddings, conferences and ballets, because I don't think it's fair that women are judged on their appearances by every sticky mouthbreather on the G train. My body isn't public property. If you don't like the way it looks, you can go screw--I don't exist to give men something pleasing to look at.

In Marjane Satrapi's graphic novel, "Persepolis," she talks about life as a woman in Iran under a repressive theocracy. "The regime had understood that one person leaving her house while asking herself, 'Are my trousers long enough? Is my veil in place? Can my makeup be seen? Are they going to whip me?' No longer asks herself, 'Where is my freedom of thought? Where is my freedom of speech? My life, is it livable? What's going on in the political prisons?'"

To paraphrase: People who have to think about stupid shit aren't free to think about important shit. So no makeup for Big Island Rachel. I have important shit to think about.

Of course, that's only about half the time. The other half of the time, I realize that I'm constantly thinking about monumentally stupid shit--Batman, cats, eggs for brunch, how dumb squirrels are, the angle of the slope of my apartment floor, Star Trek puns, where my Avengers tshirt went, why I didn't finish that ebook before it expired when I'd been on the waiting list for six months, that time in kindergarten I made my friend cry, what brand of Scotch my tumblr-pal in New Zealand drinks--and honestly, I can take 5 minutes out of all that to put some damn eyeliner on.

I'll revisit "Persepolis," as one does with the stories that really stick with you, and I'll notice that Satrapi herself was desperate for the freedom to wear makeup, fashionable clothing, or even just a pair of red socks to school. Her oppression didn't come from the veil itself--it came from her lack of choice of whether she could wear the veil or not.

And then the pendulum swings back the other way. Yes, Big Island Rachel, you don't have to wear makeup if you don't want to.

So... do you want to?

BAM! New lipstick. Red as the blood of my enemies. Also, it kind of smells like cake frosting when it goes on.

The New Year is off to a great start.

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