There is no unmarked woman.
There is no woman’s hair style that can be called standard, that says nothing about her. The range of women’s hair styles is staggering, but a woman whose hair has no particular style is perceived as not caring about how she looks, which can disqualify her for many positions, and will subtly diminish her as a person in the eyes of some.
Women must choose between attractive shoes and comfortable shoes. When our group made an unexpected trek, the woman who wore flat, laced shoes arrived first. Last to arrive was the woman in spike heels, shoes in hand and a handful of men around her.
If a woman’s clothing is tight or revealing (in other words, sexy), it sends a message — an intended one of wanting to be attractive, but also a possibly unintended one of availability. If her clothes are not sexy, that too sends a message, lent meaning by the knowledge that they could have been. There are thousands of cosmetic products from which women can choose and myriad ways of applying them. Yet no makeup at all is anything but unmarked. Some men see it as a hostile refusal to please them.
Women can’t even fill out a form without telling stories about themselves. Most forms give four titles to choose from. “Mr.” carries no meaning other than that the respondent is male. But a woman who checks “Mrs.” or “Miss” communicates not only whether she has been married but also whether she has conservative tastes in forms of address — and probably other conservative values as well. Checking “Ms.” declines to let on about marriage (checking “Mr.” declines nothing since nothing was asked), but it also marks her as either liberated or rebellious, depending on the observer’s attitudes and assumptions.
"Makeup should enhance your natural beauty, not obscure it. Use subtle highlights to accent the ravenous hunger in your eyes and bring out the extraordinary size of your submandibular venom glands."
"Your daily positive affirmation: today I am thankful for being alive and blessed with rows upon rows of teeth that shear right through muscle and bone."
"Conceal your dark circles. Conceal your bright chevrons and your dusky stripes. The humans must not suspect what you are."
"New research shows that ideal femininity encompasses a lamia’s beauty, a cyclops’ strength, a hydra’s deadliness, a Fury’s heartlessness, a harpy’s swiftness, and a sphinx’s love of feasting on less intelligent creatures. Be a chimera that cannot be contained!"
"Aim to be described as "inexplicably eerie," "unsettlingly off," and "I’m not sure what she looks like, I could never keep my eyes on her face long enough to see."
I don’t think that people generally realise what motion picture industry has done to the American Indian, as a matter of fact, all ethnic groups, all minorities, all non-whites. And people just simply don’t realise, just take it for granted that that’s the way people are going to be presented and these clichés are just, I mean on this network every night, well perhaps not every night, but you can see silly renditions of human behaviour, the leering Filipino houseboy, the wily Japanese, the kook or the gook, black man, stupid Indian. It just goes on and on and on. And people actually don’t realise how deeply people are injured by seeing themselves represented, not so much the adults, who are already inured to that kind of pain and pressure, but children. Indian children seeing Indians represented as savage, as ugly, as nasty, vicious, treacherous, drunken. They grow up only with a negative image of themselves and it lasts a lifetime.
Marlon Brando on why Sacheen Littlefeather presented a speech on his behalf during his Best Actor win for The Godfather at the 1973 Academy Awards