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Fight the Power of Stereotypes … Through Nail Polish

November 3, 2012

Today, I went to Sephora, and while I was there I decided to check out the nail polishes.

I found one in the “Sephora by OPI” line called, “What’s A Tire Jack?”

That pissed me off.

The name “What’s a Tire, Jack?” would be equally offensive, but much more confusing

I could have just rolled my eyes and laughed at it. (“Ha, ha! It’s funny because women don’t know anything about cars!“) And normally I don’t get offended by dumb stuff like that.

(Q: How many feminists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: That’s not funny.)

It’s just that I’ve been thinking a lot about femininity and girly stereotypes lately, so today it sent me through the roof.

(Plus, the nail polish is black. Honestly, were it pink with sparkles, that might have been hilarious because it would so ridiculously cliché as to be downright ironic.)

Our culture has stereotypes about every group of people. It’s just one of those things that happens. Stereotypes do come from somewhere, although very few people fit them all perfectly. Which is why they rather annoy me.

I’ve never considered myself much of a girly-girl, at least not since I became an adult. I played with Barbies and had tea parties and loved the color pink when I was a child. But my mom made me take ballet when I was three and I hated every minute of it. I liked playing with my American Girl dolls as much for the stories and the history (I was a history nerd from … well, earliest memory, really) as the clothes and other dolly accessories.

Now, as an adult, this looks…wrong…somehow.

I was also insanely into Jurassic Park and had so many dinosaur toys and action figures, and I liked stomping through the woods and shooting birds with my Red Ryder BB gun (Annie Oakley was my childhood hero).

I’m still kind of like that as an adult—I like superhero movies and MST3K and I read Cracked.com, and I appreciate weaponry even as I don’t know much about it, but I also like Jane Austen books/movies and Downton Abbey (just series one, though), a good pair of earrings, and a handsome man with a lovely accent. I don’t do a lot with my hair, I wear comfortable shoes more often than not, I actually try to take care of my car, and the idea of a “girl’s night” watching rom-coms and doing manicures while we talk about Pinterest and weddings makes me want to jump off a building. (I only do my nails to stop biting them—I have a variety of polishes because I get bored easily.)

Makeup is probably the biggest girly thing I’m into. I didn’t even start wearing it until age 14, right before high school. I consider it a creative outlet as much as anything else; it’s just fun for me. Many women aren’t into makeup, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s something I know I do well, so I’m not ashamed to say that I’m pretty girly there.

HOWEVER, if you use that to assume other things about me—that I don’t know what a tire jack is, that I find Ryan Gosling attractive, that I would enjoy a book/movie by Nicholas Sparks, or that I don’t have a sense of humor—I will get angry. (And no, you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.)

. . .

There’s nothing wrong with being girly or enjoying girly things. Just don’t assume that it applies to every woman, everywhere, in the same way. Yes, there are women who don’t know what a tire jack is. There are also men who don’t know what a tire jack is, and they still wouldn’t be caught dead wearing nail polish, black or otherwise.

Yeah, in the end it’s just a poorly chosen, dumb name for a nail polish. But…sigh…it doesn’t have to be this way!

And for the record, my idea of a perfect “Girl’s Night” is to have a group of friends over to drink whiskey and gin (not necessarily together), eat Chinese takeout and cake, and watch a movie where beautiful men blow shit up, stab each other to death, or otherwise die tragically and/or heroically.

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