“You can care about human issues, the planet and also be into fashion,” says Stacey Dooley.
Whether it’s using make-up, shaving your legs or dyeing your hair, there’s no denying that women’s decisions about their own bodies have the potential to spark huge debates – particularly when viewed through a feminist lens. After all, does changing the way you look mean that you’re taking back control of your own appearance? Or does it mean that you’re giving in to the overwhelming pressure of the patriarchy?
Perhaps even more irritating, though, is the fact that so many see such things as “trivial” or “silly” – which, therefore, reduces all those interested in beauty rituals as “trivial” or “silly”, too. To quote our very own Lucy Mangan, it seems that many people out there view “anything more than a weekly hair wash and scrubdown with carbolic as dangerous decadence“.
It’s a subject which Stacey Dooley has now addressed on Twitter, after the hard-hitting investigative journalist was accused of being a “sell out” for agreeing to front BBC Three’s upcoming beauty show Glow Up: Britain’s Next Make-Up Star.
Announcing the news on her own feed, Dooley described the gig – and her fellow presenters – as a “dream”. She promised that her fans were going to love the show. And then, hearing her joyful trip-trap across her metaphorical bridge, came the trolls who felt they knew more about Dooley’s life goals than she did.
“Ahhh stace no, don’t sell out like this!!!” wrote one. “Don’t forget your roots of investigative journalism.”
Then, referring to the journo’s recent stint on Strictly Come Dancing, they added that “Strictly always changes people and turns them into reality TV stars,” alongside a stream of weeping emoji faces.
Dooley, though, refused to take the comment lying down.
“This is such a Stone Age assumption,” she said.
“You can care about human issues, the planet and also be into fashion. And you can also take time out to look after yourself mentally.”
Naturally, her response went down an absolute storm on social media.
Of course, Dooley is not the first to be criticised for unabashedly loving make-up, and we sadly doubt she will be the last. Indeed, feminist author Chimananda Ngozi Adichie, who became a brand ambassador for No. 7, was similarly forced to discuss the age-old accusation that women who care about their appearance are somehow less intellectually gifted.
“I think it’s time to really stop that ridiculous idea that somehow if you’re a serious woman you can’t and should not care about how you look,” she said.
“[When I moved to America], I quickly realised that for a woman to be taken seriously and to be seen as a ‘serious intellectual person’, she couldn’t possibly look as though she cared a lot about her appearance,” added Adichie.
But she eventually decided to stop caring, realising the pleasure make-up brought her.
“On the days when I think my cat-eye is good, it just makes me happy,” she said.
Essentially, it’s all too easy to pick someone apart for making a choice you wouldn’t necessarily agree with – whether it be shaving their body hair, wearing high heels to work, applying make-up on a daily basis or undergoing a breast augmentation.
The best thing to do is to live and let live – and remember that a feminist is a person of any gender who believes in equality of the sexes, no matter what their outer shell looks like.
Photography: Matthew Shave
Fashion: Polly Knight