I love fashion, I like dressing up, I like putting on make up, I like watching Sex and the City and I love my dose of Vogue. Does that make me shallow and trivial??
Often I am asked ‘Doesn’t your interest in fashion question your feminist credentials?’ Here is my answer to that.
Within the framework of feminist ideologue, I have often encountered anti-beauty/anti-fashion conversations. As far as I understand feminism is a movement of gender equality. It’s about giving women more access. On the other hand, fashion to me is the manifestation of the ‘self’. It’s about expressing who you are as an individual. Then how can we view fashion and feminism from separate lenses when they are so intrinsically connected? Infact for me fashion is a tool for resistance. A tool which empowers me more than it does to men.
Virginia Woolf said “Vain trifles as they seem, clothes have, they say, more important offices than to merely keep us warm. They change our view of the world and the world’s view of us.”
In every culture through history, women have groomed themselves for reasons not necessarily sexual. All of us have bodies. All of us want to look good. All of us are a part of a shared living. And fashion is actually a form of self expression which liberates us from shackles of dominance. It let’s us be who we are. How can then it be frivolous?
“Feminist writers have consistently argued that a woman’s attempt to cultivate her appearance makes her a dupe of fashion, the plaything of men, and thus a collaborator in her own oppression,” Linda Scott wrote in her book Fresh Lipstick: Redressing Fashion and Feminism. “Though this wisdom has seldom been open to question as a matter of principle, it has always produced discord at the level of practice.” Yes, I do have a problem with being objectified to cater to a male gaze. But using that argument against fashion is like saying ‘a girl shouldn’t go out late in the night because there are drunk men roaming around waiting to pounce on her’.
It is good to see dominant messages of gender, beauty and style being questioned. As long as there is a healthy debate, it works well. I am in no way patronizing fashion and saying every women must embrace it. Ultimately that’s an individual choice that I do respect. But my problem is with people who think to be fashion as shallow and trivial.
I teach for a living and live to teach. I love fashion. I am certainly not shallow.