Spray Tans Anti-Feminist?

During my four years of high school, I was a part of a club called LAW, or Latin’s alliance for women. We focused on woman’s empowerment but it was also a place where girls could simply come and discuss pertinent issues that they were currently facing in their lives. One message that the club conveyed was for girls to be confident with themselves. We emphasized the importance of not changing one’s self for others, especially boys.

Many heated discussions were sparked around the time of prom season. One teacher who helped run the meetings was very opinionated on the way she thought girls should behave while preparing for prom. A common activity that went on during this time was spray tanning. She felt that girls going to get a spray tan completely undermined the message that the club promoted.

I am a big advocate for accepting oneself, but I completely disagree that the idea of spray tanning or more generally, changing ones external experience with the use of makeup or other products, is negative. I think that as long as the reasons behind why a girl would desire to alter their appearance in a certain way are because she is doing it for herself and not the approval of others, then there is no stigma attached. Do you think that this activity undermines a feminist message?

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One Response to Spray Tans Anti-Feminist?

  1. katmateo says:

    I understand where your ideas stem from, and have often posed this question to myself: when does it stop being for the person herself? There comes a certain point, where what these girls are doing in preparation for prom ceases to be for them, but is rather for the pleasure of others. How exactly does getting a spray tan benefit me? Personally, I will not be walking around prom with a mirror, looking at my new and “improved” skin color. One could say that the spray tan makes the young woman feel prettier. However, if it were not for the societal pressures to conform to an ideal form of “beauty,” she would not feel ugly in the first place. Then, my conclusion is that in getting a spray tan, she does undermine the feminist message and allows herself to be objectified as a source of desire.

    However, that is slightly simplistic. Ideals of beauty are so deeply entrenched in our society, that I actually can’t bring myself to accept this logic. By the same token, make up undermines the feminist message; however, I would find it extremely difficult to go on a date with my boyfriend without wearing make up. In this socialized idea of beauty, we also have to take into account the culture of where you went to school. From your story it seems like getting a spray tan was a common practice, whereas in my high school, that was going above and beyond.

    My answer to you is that theoretically, anything we do to be aesthetically pleasing in the eyes of others undermines the feminist message. However, I will not be the one to step out to class tomorrow in my pajamas, in fuzzy slippers, without combing my hair.

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