For hundreds of years women have struggled with the necessity to conform to cultural norms within their appearance. In the 1900’s there was an immergence of diversity and choice in American women’s choice to choose their dress. There was less of an obligation to wear petticoats and lengthy dresses. Don’t you worry though, sexism continued to prevail, but no longer was it clothed in seriously uncomfortable (sometime suffocating) corsets and unflattering fashion. With a continued change of women’s fashion from the 1900’s to today’s trends of scrunchies and crop-tops, the idea that clothing represents the person it’s on still prevails.
Within our lifetimes, both millennials and Gen Z, we have never been subjected to the conformity of the women that preceded us. Instead, we were raised with the notion of individuality and self-expression with what we clothed ourselves in. Whether raised within a school with a dress-code or not, clothing on dress-down days was an opportunity to show self-expression, comfort, and personality. I went to public school K-12, so the opportunity to choose my clothes has always existed as a privileged to me. I never really thought about how much clothing can impact your self-value, esteem, and image until I began to encompass a larger global view. Around the world there are women who do not have the privilege to choose what they dress themselves in. Instead clothing is used as a tool to mask the body. Through government practice or institutionalized patriarchal ideals, the idea of self-expression through choice in clothing does not exist for all women. However, clothing in all parts of the world is a form of symbolism about a person’s beliefs, personality, and or self-expression.
In America, we are privileged with many types of rights we are never forced to think about. The idea of choice surrounding the fabrics we drape ourselves in the day-to-day is an immense privilege. All I ask is that we don’t internalize misogyny and look down upon each other for the way we choose to dress. Instead, we should encourage and empower other women by complimenting and recognizing the effort they put into their outfit. I am not saying that as a female you should wear feminist slogans t-shirts with the words “the future is female” across the chest (I’m also not saying not to do that, you do you), nor am I encouraging the blatant use of clothing as feminist statements. I encourage the dismissal of down casting of what female choose to wear to class because it is not what you chose to wear that day. Whether it is an internalized criticism of yourself, a projection of self-hatred, or just an opinion about what another student is wearing, if you have nothing nice to say, say absolutely nothing at all. You do not know what that girl is going through, you do not know if she is wearing a dress because it’s the only thing she had clean or maybe she was just feeling herself! Let a girl live.
(Photo Credit: Gradient Lair)
What I am saying is, that on the serious note, we should respect women’s right to choose what they want to wear (we have been told what to do for too d*mn long). We speak about feminism too often to not follow through in our daily thoughts. Instead of criticizing other women for putting effort into their clothing, HYPE THEM UP. The emerging culture of self-love and self-worth could still use some external validation occasionally. So, ladies, don’t forget that when you go to class and see another girl looking fine as h*ll you should tell her and appreciate her beauty, not bring yourself or her down. We all know you look cute in a big t-shirt and messy bun anyways… so, just let it rock and let her rock.
(Photo Credit: Hannah Giorgis)