Growing up, I’ve realized that a ‘feminist’ is not an easy thing to be. First of all, you have to put up with a ton of people that don’t even understand the modern implications of the term ‘feminism’. And then we have the skeptics that ‘don’t believe in’ feminism. Last but not least, we have the hypocrites that define themselves as ‘feminists’ but simultaneously cannot help but depend on traditional, biased gender roles. But it’s even harder to be a feminist while being a fashion geek at the same time.
Feminism, defined by the Google dictionary, is ‘the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men’. Makes sense, huh? Equality, as in being given equal opportunities and rights, as in being given an equal, fair, starting ground.
Fashion and feminism are two things that I’m most passionate about. They both have the inherent ability to empower women in a way that no other concept can. The two concepts are often compared and merged to achieve a contemporary understanding of look-ism and women. What is it in feminism that relates it to fashion? Does fashion have its roots in feminism?
Anyone who is remotely involved in fashion would know that Mary Quant, the owner of a boutique in London called Bazaar, officially introduced the miniskirt to the world during the 1960s. The 1960s were an era of revolution in a number of fields such as philosophy, politics, religion, and fashion. People would challenge previously accepted social standards, and it was during this time that young girls would experiment with shorter skirts and different styles. The miniskirt gradually rose to fame and became popular. I guess you could say the miniskirt was a representation of the earliest form of feminism. It showed that women no longer had to be suppressed and have limited garment choices. Women could choose to show their own legs if they wanted to.
But the thing is, feminism in fashion in today’s world takes a slightly different form to that of the 1960s. This is the era of Miley Cyrus, of Lady Gaga, and all the other ‘provocative’ artists. While explicitly putting your body on display was originally considered feminist, people are also voicing out their opinions from the other side of the viewpoint, that the oversexed culture is not feminist at all. People are starting to argue that wearing revealing clothes to get attention goes against the principle of feminism itself, since, in a way, it’s sexual commodification.
(image above: Mary Quant, creator of the miniskirt)
I’ve noticed that more and more people are turning against the 1960 miniskirt theory of feminism, and are extensively getting fed up of the oversexed media full of women that look like they just got out of the shower.
This shows that fashion isn’t just used for empowering women (by providing women with a basis to express themselves freely), it now has the counter effect of degrading women without them even knowing it. Of course, not all revealing garments can be branded as anti-feminist. It’s the premise or reason behind wearing(or more like, not wearing) them that determines whether a certain style of fashion is feminist or anti-feminist.
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Image Credits: http://www.lasedna.com.ar/camila-moreno