Yes, we can love feminism and fashion too

First Lady Michelle Obama: the kind of powerful and stylish woman who, upon arriving at her Vogue photo shoot, told THEM what she was going to wear.

Feminists are hairy-legged man-haters, fashion fans are fad-obsessed idiots, and never shall the two see eye-to-eye. Right? Wrong! Here’s why.

1. Fashion sells low self-esteem—but you don’t have to buy it

Let’s face it: Fashion is sold by making women feel badly about their appearance. Sometimes it’s even sold by demeaning women, putting them in highly suggestive or abusive-looking photos. Fashion models keep getting skinnier and younger, leading many women to obsess about age and weight. And the fashion industry has well-deserved bad rap for problems like, oh, I dunno, drug use and underpaying its barely pubescent models.

Making women feel bad about themselves is a great way to push women to buy clothes, but it doesn’t have to be your reason. You can enjoy being fashionable and stylish simply because you enjoy being fashionable and stylish—not because you feel bad about yourself and want to look like a Photoshopped 13-year-old.

I’d like to add that this tactic isn’t just used by the fashion industry. Envy is an excellent selling point. How about that iPhone commercial that ends: “If you don’t have an iPhone, you don’t have an iPhone.” One of the douchiest.commercials.ever.

2. Feminism is about feeling empowered

It’s easy to fall into an –ism or an –ist and use it as a way to hate things. Capitalists hate communists, and of course we all know feminists hate men, right?

I’d like to think it’s not that limiting. I’d like to think that feminism can be about feeling empowered as a woman, even though there are plenty of people who like to cut down on that empowerment. Sometimes douchey men do it. Sometimes lawmakers and the fashion industry and yes, other women do it. Point is, feminism can be about pushing past all that. If being stylish is one way you feel empowered, well, more power to you!

3. Feminism is about choice

Once upon a time, women couldn’t vote, own property or go to college. We were held back from achieving and learning and leaving the house. We have a lot of options now. We’re also no longer restricted to dresses and corsets, and we can choose to wear whatever fashions we want. Why not take that freedom and run with it?

4. Fashion is fun—when you use it to please yourself

I love this piece from a father, writing in a open letter to a 16-year-old about women’s appearances:

“The bottom line is that there’s nothing you can wear that will guarantee respect from others. And the reason is that the root of this problem isn’t skin or clothing, it’s our cultural contempt for women and girls.

Have you noticed the way this works yet? If a girl is thin, she’s accused of being “anorexic;” if her weight is higher than the cruelly restrictive ideal, she’s “fat” and “doesn’t take care of herself” or “has no self-control.” If she wears cute, trendy clothes she “only wants attention” and if she wears sweats and jeans, she “doesn’t make an effort.” If she’s perceived as sexually attractive … she’s likely to be called a “slut.” If her sexuality and her body are concealed, she’s a “prude.” As you’ve probably figured out, the cards are stacked against you. You cannot win, at least not if you define winning as dressing and behaving in a way likely to win approval (or at least decent respect) from everyone.

The advice I’m going to give may sound clichéd, but it’s important nonetheless: you should dress in a style that makes you comfortable.”

Since you can’t please everyone, you may as well please yourself. For those of us who love style and fashion, putting together an outfit each day is fun—it’s almost like creating a costume.

5. Style is smart

There’s this notion that smart, civic-minded people (such as many feminists) have other, more worthwhile concerns besides fashion. But haven’t you noticed that when you meet a successful person, he or she often looks really good? They’ve learned to keep up with fashion and integrate trends into their signature styles. They’ve also learned that looking shleppy is a hindrance to gaining influence and respect.

–TC

One thought on “Yes, we can love feminism and fashion too

  1. Pingback: An indroduction | xyff

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