The Twittersphere recently erupted with a particularly nasty-sounding hashtag (#FeministsAreUgly). To retaliate, users have been posting photographs of pro-equality celebrities (the beautiful faces of Beyoncé, Emma Watson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were frequently on my dash) and well as selfies of themselves. The point is fairly clear: there are plenty of feminists who are “regulation hotties” and anything but ugly.
As it turns out, the hashtag wasn’t started by Twitter trolls or militant Men’s Rights Activists . Instead, it was an ironic statement from two feminists in August 2014 whilst posting selfies. It seems that this was all a case of smoke without fire (and perhaps think before you tweet). But there’s actually a bigger issue at stake here, and that’s in how it was handled by the other feminists who thought the hashtag was legit troll bait. (And, it’s worth bearing in mind that I have seen many, many people of both genders have said they genuinely believe that only ugly girls are feminists, so it can’t all be dismissed as misunderstanding).
It’s lovely for people (especially young women, who are not always the most confident sort) to boost their self-esteem by taking photos. I wouldn’t want to take that away from people, so by all means keep selfie-ing away. But the way people “disproved” the idea that Feminists Were Ugly missed the bigger issue at stake.
Why did people need to prove that not all feminists were ugly? I mean, honestly, does it actually matter?
Historically, the opinions and identities of women have been discredited because they don’t fit into a pre-determined cultural box of what “beauty” is. Go back a hundred years to women’s campaign for enfranchisement. There was plenty of anti-suffragette propaganda which depicted women who wanted the vote as hideous, red-faced spinsters. Of course, hot and suitably feminine women wouldn’t be interested in politics! It must only be the disgusting shrews who can’t find husbands and are therefore agitating for the vote.
The ideas being circulated one hundred years ago aren’t all that different from what’s circulating on Twitter now, which is ridiculous.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a gorgeous Taylor Swift-alike or in no way conventionally attractive. Everyone deserves respect and to have their opinions heard. So post selfies if you will, but just remember that whoever you are (male, female, non-binary or other), you’re valuable because you’re you – not because you fit into a box that some person decided to label “attractive”.
Take a look at my article on Taylor Swift’s redefined star image here.
Watch my review of Cinderella (2015) and Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998) here.