Stop Telling Women To Smile

A week ago I was sitting at my favorite coffee shop, notebook in hand and a coffee on the table.  I pulled out my mirror to see if I had anything on my face, quickly fixing my concealer that was out of place from my oversized sunglasses.

“Your makeup looks fine!” a stranger next to me declared.  I looked over, laughed, and continued to set up shop at my seat.

He didn’t stop there.  “You know, most men would say women look best without makeup.  It’s Sunday!  Don’t wear makeup!”

Newsflash: I wear makeup for me, not you.

I love to dress up, wear red lipstick, and don my Karen Walker shades.  Not looking for validation, on most days I simply want to write in peace; the last thing I want is to have strangers approach me to give me unsolicited advice or flirt poorly at a coffee shop.

Nevertheless, whether or not it was meant to be a compliment, it was still suggesting I change who I am or what I do.  That never sits well with me- flirting or not.  It’s manipulative, and it’s unwelcomed.

Here’s a comprehensive list of things women don’t need to hear from a man:

  • How to wear our hair
  • What clothes to choose
  • How long our hair “should” be
  • When to wear makeup
  • That we should smile

Maybe some women need the words of the opposite sex to gain their confidence, but I am not one of them.

“The sexualization behind telling women to smile is alarming. It makes women feel that we are only meant to be happy and pretty and it’s a passive way to engage into an unwanted conversation.” –

I’ve had ex-boyfriends try and dress me up in the shortest of skirts, 6 inch heels, and cleavage revealing attire.  That’s just not my style.  I’ve even had an ex ask me if I was going to a funeral because I was wearing all black.  Didn’t you know black is slimming and chic?  Just look at Audrey Hepburn.  I doubt she cared what other people said about her little black dress.

The guy at the cafe went on to later tell me how our meeting was “serendipitous,” in which I immediately rolled my eyes.

No, you just sat next to a woman and started telling her what to do and not to do.  Also, I have no interest in a divorced 50-something who was thumbing through his “Plenty of Fish” app.

Women can have it pretty rough out there, but as long as we hold our own and stick to our laurels, we will be just fine.

Just don’t tell me to smile.

Inspired by Stop Telling Women to Smile, a street art project addressing gender-based street harassment.

Embrace Being A Girlie Girl

I’ve been a girlie girl for as long as I can remember.

In fact, I was a girlie girl before I was even conscious of the sunglasses on my face or the ruffles on my clothes.  The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree- as I get older, I’ve noticed I am becoming more and more like the ladiest of ladies- my mother.

Although I’ve always been known to have a dry wit, a lot of guy friends, and would be more likely found at a sports bar than dancing at a club, I would never, ever, put down my lipstick, listen to a guy advise me on what to wear, or stop shaving my legs in the winter.

Why on earth do women think they need a man to take care of themselves?

It’s so, so ridiculous.

I don’t know about you, but I do everything I do for me.

Over the years my boyfriends have tried and tell me not to wear makeup.  They’ve encouraged me to put on a pair of jeans and ditch the dress, to stop wearing the big sunglasses, to grow out my hair, and to take off my lipgloss.  They’ve told me to dress sexy, they’ve told me to stay in sweatpants, and hell, they’ve even told me what they wanted their ex-girlfriends to wear.

And you know what?  I kept doing what I wanted to do.

I will never cease to roll my eyes at any magazine or propaganda that informs women how to please their man, dress for their man, or attract more men. You know what I have to say to that? Be your damn self, because that’s how you’ll attract the right man.

I know what you’re thinking, “this girl is single- what does she know?”  Well, I’m the one who called off a wedding ten years ago, has lived with three men over the course of my life, and I’ve always been the one to leave.  I don’t stick around for the stifling-  I would much rather be free than “taken care of.”  I’ll be on my own unless I meet a man who embraces my girliness, loves my lipstick, and encourages me to be me.  

I suppose I just can’t come to terms with women who don’t want to do things for themselves.  Being a girlie girl doesn’t make you weak, being graceful doesn’t make you any less powerful, and embracing your femininity doesn’t mean a man can walk all over you.

Being female is a superpower.

So, take your power back.

My wish is for women to stop putting so much weight on men’s opinions and how it makes them think of themselves.  I don’t want to hear about women changing their clothes because of a man’s opinion, memes complaining about having to take care of yourself because of a date, or hear that my friends acted like this.  No.  Just no.

Shave your damn legs for yourselves, ladies.  Trust me, it feels great.