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May 4, 2009 | by  | in Opinion |
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Guest Editorial

Having attended a girls’ high school, with a strong emphasis on streamlining us into a ‘type’ rather than embracing our differences, I have spent my first four years out of there discovering my place as an individual. However many categories I fit into, the ever-present factor defining me is always that I am a woman.

People of all genders and sexualities struggle with pressures to conform to ‘the norm’, ‘the cool’, ‘the whatever everyone else is telling me to be’. Women are faced with endless conflicting images, which society dictates we must look and behave like. Instead of conforming to what others tell you to, decide who it is that you want to be and what defines you.

Magazines, billboards and movies tell us we have to wear make up if we want to get anywhere. Some guys tell us that they prefer it if we don’t wear make up, but drunk guys on the street yell at us to wear more. We are criticised for being too fat, criticised for being too thin; made to feel so self-conscious when we go out that we are eating too much or too little. We are barraged by images of women with tiny waists, wide hips, big boobs and slender legs, but if we wear the clothes the magazines tell us to, we are called sluts. If we make our own style, we are weird or ‘badly dressed’. Helen Clark faced endless criticism and downright bullying about her looks and style, and mockery when her billboard was airbrushed.

Go out this week and celebrate Women’s Fest. Let’s enjoy what it means to each of us individually to be who we are, and if being a woman means something to you, then fucking relish it. Celebrate it. Experience something new this week. Read Cunt. Try out an alternative menstrual product, or stick to tampons if that’s what works for you. Try wearing no make up and being proud of your own skin. Wear the bright colourful make up you’ve been too afraid to try, or experiment with flaunting your best features.

Feminism is a struggle. We need to confront the barriers that prevent women as a group from equal opportunities and equal outcomes, but also let it be a celebration. That’s how I suggest you approach this issue of Salient as well as Women’s Fest. Look past Michelle Obama’s designer suit and recognise the political work she has done while raising two children. If you feel confident in a miniskirt, wear it. Let’s celebrate those things we have in common that we use to identify ourselves as women and let’s join together to fight those things that stop us from being who want to be as individuals.

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About the Author ()

Fiona was named "Recessionista" in the ASPA Fashion Awards 2009 for her Takaka op-shop frock and spray painted shoes. She co-edits the arts section and also likes to write about women and other stuff.

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