Are Fashion & Feminism Incompatible?
Balancing feelings of feminism against a love of fashion can feel like a bit of an oxymoron if you think about it too hard. As a group, fashion enthusiasts, especially style bloggers, are often marginalized as merely superficial. Do you think your love of fashion and feelings of feminism are innately incompatible?
I like to think of fashion, or rather one’s sense of personal style, as an indicator of one’s power and control over their own life. I know that sounds haughty but let me attempt to explain…
I grew up with a fabulous and powerful mother who never left the house without her hair curled and her nails painted a hot shade of red and she was very certain of herself and to me, very strong. She owned both her talents and flaws alike (and still does, by the way) and was always my biggest inspiration. She overcame a lot on her drive towards personal and professional success and her style was a part of her assets that lead to a personal confidence that I still try to emulate. She raised me, not only on her personal brand of feminine chic and toughness, but also on my personal icon: Mary Tyler Moore. Mary, like my mother, didn’t need a man to feel confident. She didn’t need to be taken care of. And she wasn’t going to settle for anything less than what she deserved. All this, and she, like my Mama, did it with style. Mary was her own person and that was evident in the way she approached the world and how she saw herself in it. She dressed for herself, oozed confidence, and although sometimes a pleaser (after all she was human!) she showed a careful balance of elegance and mental toughness. She looked amazing and she was amazing. Look good, feel good. What a winning combination.
We Blog About Fashion,
But We are More than Just Fashion
When I first started this blog, like so many others, I kept it a secret. I didn’t tell the important people in my life at first, because I worried that a fashion blog might lead people to make inaccurate assumptions about my priorities or interests. I told close friends and family a little later, but it wasn’t until a coworker outed me and told the whole school to visit my site that I realized just how silly that had been. From the very beginning I’ve always written this blog for me, not to please other people. Over the years I’ve transitioned Lindsay Living into a lifestyle blog, sharing posts about my other creative interests like music, home decor, and living a happier more fulfilling life. Even when I’m sharing an outfit, I try to infuse personal stories to show some personality and that I am more than what I am wearing. I’m a real person. I am the first to admit taking photos of your outfits is a little bizarre, but it’s not superfluous or unimportant and it’s wrong to make that assumption about anyone who loves the creativity of their clothes.
Can Fashion be Feminist in a
World Dominated by Male Designers?
Yes, most of the world’s top fashion designers are men. There should be more room for women at the top, but one could argue this is true of any industry. Top female designers bring another perspective to fashion. They know the female figure first hand, and designers like Diane Von Furstenberg and Donna Karan have made a name for themselves by creating clothing that is functional and flattering in addition to being totally gorgeous. I think a lot of people are turned off by the fashion industry because it’s filled with impossibly thin models, designs that only seem to look good on said models and is way way way out of their price range. I have been of this mind set from time to time. A longtime Vogue subscriber I stopped renewing a few years back because I was tired of looking at things I am not. Luckily there are more magazines out there that cater to the average reader. Often I think it’s more than just the gender of the designer, and more often how the media portrays fashion as unattainable and impossible standards of beauty that are at odds with feminism.
Better than magazines, though, are blogs. Think about it. You can get endless inspiration on any topic completely for free in the palm of your hand. You can look at real girls, not just posed, airbrushed, fashion models wearing someone else’s clothes. Also, there are so many different kinds of bloggers, thus type of blogs. From high fashion to budget-conscious and college student to mom-on-the-go, there’s truly something for everyone. As your lifestyle changes so will the lifestyles of your favorite bloggers. They are growing up just like you are. Plus, there’s endless new blogs to discover. I often think of fashion bloggers as a new wave of feminist activity. Gone are the days of one aesthetic on the glossy pages of a magazine. You can find someone you can relate to all with the help of Google.
with Feminist Beliefs
People hear the word feminism and recoil. As if, to be a feminist means that you are militant, unaccepting, and angry. I think for most women this is not the case. Feminism, at its root is about female equality and above all choice. Choice in everything from career, lifestyle, and yes, the way we dress. Yet still, this focus on dress can make women appear less serious in the workplace. There are so many “conservative” companies that frown upon bright colors or feminine prints, hoping female employees will come to work in masculine neutral suiting, giving almost no margin for one’s personal style, no matter how conservative that style may be. Why is conservative style synonymous with masculine, neutral attire, anyway? This is a point I’ve often pondered. It’s interesting that someone who puts time and thought into their appearance is labeled a superficial, but many workplaces bend others to their aesthetic will.
I try not to take myself too seriously. I don’t know that people necessarily know that about me since I dress up so much. It probably seems like I take myself, or rather my personal appearance, VERY seriously. The fun in fashion for me is putting seemingly mis-matched pieces together and trying to make it work. No one my judge except myself. As long as I feel happy, comfortable, and confident, the outfit works. Fashion choices are merely another creative vehicle I use to feel like more of myself. I’m more influenced by personal style, street style, and style blogs than any magazine, store or designer, and more interested in my own opinion on how I feel when I put something on than anything else. Again, this all goes back to the choices afforded by feminism. In my opinion, fashion and feminism are interrelated.
The Role of Fashion
When I was a young girl, I had strong feelings that clothing, makeup, hairstyle and other physical choices show the world who you are. Like many young girls I began to overthink the role of my appearance in gaining friends, boyfriends, or presenting myself as interesting or valuable. As teens I think we all go through this stage, pawing through the pages of Seventeen, trying to suss out what makes a girl desirable. Into our young adult years, many women fall into the trap of equating looks with value. As I’ve grown into adulthood I’ve maintained a healthy viewpoint on the role of style in my life. I love that when I dress in a way that makes me feel confident I feel empowered and in control of my life. There’s an old saying that I hear a lot, that girls dress for girls, not for the guys in their lives. I have always put emphasis on dressing in a way that makes me feel amazing, rather than trying to please anyone else. When I feel put together, I feel like the truest version of myself. I remember cramming all week for finals in college, well into the night before the test. The next morning I’d wake up, take a long shower, straighten my hair and put on one of my favorite outfits. I walked down to my final feeling like I could take on the world. I still get a charge from dolling up on a big day, or even just a regular Tuesday. I still believe that clothes say a lot about who you are to some extent, but I would never want to confuse this belief with the fact that outer appearance is just a tiny fraction of who you are. First impressions don’t always remain in your consciousness once you’ve gotten to know who someone really is.