By caring about her appearance – as society tells her she must – she is punished by being called high-maintenance, shallow, superficial, flippant.
“High-maintenance” often describes women we don’t like, but does anyone really know what it means? “High-maintenance,” like “slut,” is used to insult women who don’t conform enough (or conform too much) to society’s expectations of femininity.
Urban Dictionary says:
1. Requiring a lot of attention. The individual is emotionally needy or prone to over-dramatizing to gain attention.
2. A person who has expensive taste. This person is never comfortable because he/she is constantly concerned about his/her appearance.
The first is a derogatory label for women who dare to ask for emotional support from the people around them. The second is a derogatory label for women who dare to take the time they need in order to conform to society’s expectations of them. By caring about her appearance – as society tells her she must if she is to be worthy of love or even leaving the house – she is called high-maintenance, shallow, superficial, flippant.
High-maintenance is yet another insult used to shame women who falter while walking that razor-thin line of acceptable femininity. The rub is that, with all things patriarchy, you can’t win. Let your striving show, and you’re a high-maintenance shrew. Don’t strive, and you’re ugly and unlovable, or worse – a feminist.
Any of you readers been called high-maintenance before? I certainly have. Tell your stories in the comments, eh?