Feminism is Not an Ugly Word; How Beauty Brands are Speaking to the Modern Woman on International Women’s Day and Beyond

22march8-superJumboPHOTOGRAPHY: Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

If there ever was a year of the woman, 2018 is looking like a good contender. In this day and age where words like “me too,” and “time’s up,” evoke change and action, the once feminist norm is now part of mainstream culture. Beauty and health brands are also raising their collective voices, allowing women to be unapologetically who they want to be and bringing selfcare to the forefront of common rhetoric.

Millions of girls and women around the world see their periods as a “week of shame.” Managing their monthly menstruation comes with improvising unhygienic and ineffective items like old clothing or toilet paper to get by. In fact, one in ten African schoolgirls skip or drop out of school entirely due to poor access to menstrual products. The Honey Pot Co, a plant-based feminine care line, is aiming to change that. Founder, Beatrice Feliu-Espada, has teamed up with the AFRIpads, a foundation that advocates for women’s health in Uganda, providing a portion of their proceeds to assist school-age girls in manufacturing menstrual care kits in their own villages. The Honey Pot Co’s collection of natural washes, wipes, pads and soon-to-launch tampons, are available nationally at Target.

Men can be feminists, too, as evidenced by father founder of RealHer Makeup, Bill Xiang. After the birth of his daughter, Xiang was inspired to start the collection to empower women. He noticed the societal pressures facing females and did not want his daughter to fall victim to the perceived status quos. Xiang always felt that makeup was a vehicle for female empowerment and in turn, created RealHer. With powerful messages of self-acceptance like, “I Am Tough,” and “I Love Myself,” RealHer also practices what they preach, donating 20% of their profits to the American Associate of University Women, which provides educational funding for women across the country.

“Feminism and femininity are not mutually exclusive,” says Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of We Should All Be Feminists. “It is misogynistic to suggest that they are. Sadly, women have learned to be ashamed and apologetic about pursuits that are seen as traditionally female, such as fashion and makeup. But our society does not expect men to feel ashamed of pursuits considered generally male – sports cars, certain professional sports. In the same way, men’s grooming is never suspect in the way women’s grooming is – a well-dressed man does not worry that, because he is dressed well, certain assumptions might be made about his intelligence, his ability, or his seriousness. A woman, on the other hand, is always aware of how a bright lipstick or a carefully-put-together outfit might very well make others assume her to be frivolous.”

We still have a long way to go. While The Honey Pot Co and RealHer are shedding light on equality, self-acceptance and empowerment, there are countless others that are not using their platforms for the greater good. But, even a small suffice to say, these feminist brands will continue to have a place on my vanity and hopefully yours, too.

– Mallory Liebhaber

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