I adore fashion magazines. I love the glossy covers, the artistic designer advertisements and the plethora of style advice. Most of all, I love the fashion features. Every so often these articles can inspire me; into thinking or seeing things differently, or by exposing me to a view point I agree with.
This month, Elle’s September issue has done just that. “How to be a badass” by Ann Friedman and “Happily, older, wiser and single” by Kate Bolick give us all a lesson in feminism.
“How to be a badass”
How often have you been told to “man up” and stop crying? We associate ‘manly’ with strength and an ability to hide our emotions, and weakness as expressing them. Ann Friedman, a well established American writer, eloquently demolishes this way of thinking, by redefining how we see a badass woman.
She talks about her own experience of being a “badass”. We see it as a way to erase all female attributes that have a negative stigma. This includes anything remotely feminine, which means a woman who wants to appear strong is forced to throw on a leather jacket, become indifferent to emotion and pretend to not care about much.
We will continue to embrace gender stereotypes if we sneer at men who cry “like a girl”, and tell opinionated women that it “must be their time of the month”.
Thankfully, a badass is one who is in touch with her emotions, and embraces them. Everyone has vulnerabilities, and they are what make us strong, not weak. This is because it makes us human, and bottling up emotion is a one track way to having a breakdown.
Women are thrown into constant turmoil in regards to how they are perceived in society. As miss Friedman mentioned, there’s only so far you can go as a “badass” before you become alienated and judged for being akin to a robot. On the flip-side, femininity isn’t viewed as strong, built on the notion of a man caring for a woman.
Its about time we break that glass that holds in badass women, and allow a strong independent woman the right to cry, to scream and to tear her hair out. Once we begin to break down gender roles, the absurd caveman view of strength will disintegrate and give everyone the right to be human.
“Happily older, wiser and single”
Its 2015 and, finally, people are realising that the path to happiness isn’t laid out by pre-set milestones. Women have always been placed under immense pressure to build a life approved by society, one of marriage, children and all achieved before the age of 35. This isn’t the case any more, under the rise of the strong-willed women who are carving out their own destinies- even if this happens to be the traditional way, or something of a polar opposite.
Most significantly, writer Kate Bolick has shown the world that a woman doesn’t have to marry in her 20s to be happy. She is a self-confessed spinster, and one which understands how it is to function alone. This doesn’t mean she is lonely. Kate was part of the coupledom world for most of her second decade on this earth. No, she’s a woman who knows that you should always be your number one. I am inspired by her tales of travel and career success, made possible by her desire to live life how she wants to.
What I’ve learnt from this is how irrelevant social conventions are. We only get one shot at this life thing and you should devote it to treating yourself as you should- the one and only constant. Be happy enough in yourself so you can, (as Edith Wharton so beautifully put it) “welcome anyone who wants to come and stay, but happy all the same when one is inevitably alone.”
I own the rights to the images in this article.