Fashion and Feminism

Discussion in 'Fashion... In Depth' started by YoninahAliza, Jul 11, 2010.

  1. YoninahAliza

    YoninahAliza New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2010
    Messages:
    3,385
    Likes Received:
    1
    I have been perusing the forums and I couldn't find any threads devoted to fashion or feminism so I created my own. As someone who considers herself a feminist but also a lover of fashion balancing the two is something which I have struggled with over the years. Sometimes I have questioned if fashion is feminist or if it isn't. So really what I want to know is do you think that fashion and feminism can co-exist? Do you think the fashion industry has helped empower women and the goals of the feminist movement? :D
     
  2. Drusilla_

    Drusilla_ Member

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2008
    Messages:
    398
    Likes Received:
    26
    I'm not going to go into too much detail about it since I'd be here all day if I did...

    I do believe fashion and feminism can coexist. Or more accurately, style and feminism can very happily coexist. It's not a betrayal of feminist ideals if you like to wear lipstick and pretty clothes and shoes, since IMO the whole point of feminism is to enable women to have choices in the way they live and present themselves, and to have those choices respected. It's a means to express yourself, and I think that's an amazing thing.

    On the other hand, I think the fashion industry itself can be appallingly misogynistic in its treatment of women (who constitute a large chunk of its work force). Just look at the treatment of models- I can't help but think of the stories of Ali Michael, Coco Rocha and Natalia Vodianova- or the reports about Terry Richardson (in any other industry, a man "requesting" sexual favours from a young woman in order to work with her would be likely to be slapped with a lawsuit, but in his case? Business as usual).

    And I'm not even going into debates on the blind consumerism encouraged by mainstream fashion magazines (with the messages being: change your wardrobe every six months! Buy ugly sh*t because it's trendy! Expensive clothes and shoes will change/complete your life!).

    I'll sum it up by saying, you can engage with fashion in a feminist manner if you so choose, and it is possible for fashion and feminism to coexist- but the industry doesn't really value that. Also, I believe that fashion gets a very bad rap partly because it's seen as a thing for women- I see men spending more on cars and electronics (iPads? come on!) than women do on clothes (which are, after all, a necessity) but because fashion is more "frivolous" than electronics, it's easier to criticise it. I realise I sound rambly, but I'm sorry- v. sleepy here.
     
  3. YoninahAliza

    YoninahAliza New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2010
    Messages:
    3,385
    Likes Received:
    1
    No, I appriciate your thoughts on this issue Drusilla... it wasn't much of a ramble to me! I agree with you in terms of the fashion industry, it is so misogynistic that its so upsetting. I think its interesting that the fashion industry caters itself towards women buyers yet its treatment of women is appalling. Please don't even get me started on Terry Richardson, he is a vile, vile man. Everytime I see any of his work in magazines I always ask myself, why he still has a job.

    I do think that feminism and fashion (style) can coexist, it really depends on whether or no you choose to let it. What I mean by this is you can choose to follow your own beliefs (or in this case sense of style) and not to follow trends just because you feel pressured too. Now what I would love to see is people stand up to those who have a lot of power in the industry, to call them out on their misogynistic actions. This could lead to real change in the way the fashion industry treats women.
     
  4. kimberwyn

    kimberwyn New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2006
    Messages:
    390
    Likes Received:
    0
    This is a good topic idea. I do agree that fashion and feminism can contradict each other a lot, but at the same time they can definitely co-exist. Some times it's frustrating though, because when you think about it, a lot of our beauty rituals and ideals really are rooted in sexism. But ultimately, most 3rd wave feminists don't have an issue with "looking nice"; it was mainly 2nd wave feminists that were anti make up/bras/etc.

    THIS. This sooo much. And the sad thing is so many females buy into this way of thinking and don't even realize the underlying sexism.

    And the funny thing is that fashion for WOMEN is actually relatively new,and has only been around since the 20th century. Before then fashion was always a thing for men.
     
    #4 kimberwyn, Jul 11, 2010
    Last edited by moderator BNaima2: Jul 11, 2010
  5. YoninahAliza

    YoninahAliza New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2010
    Messages:
    3,385
    Likes Received:
    1
    True, you make a good point Kimberwyn, before the 20th century the fashion industry as we know it was for men. I think women have always wanted to look good, whether for themselves or for others but it is only recently that they gets so much criticism for liking fashion. Before if you didn't dress nicely you were frowned upon now it seems many recieve criticism for being fashionable. I mean look at Hilary Clinton, well I may not like her style choices I respect her as a women and a politician. However many reporters tend to focus on her clothes and aparent lack of style rather then focus on the issues at hand. So in this curiumstance fashion and feminisim clash, which I think is a shame. Hilary Clinton should be allowed to wear whatever she wants (even if its not what we all wish she would wear) it shouldn't get in the way of her being a female, a politician or a female politician. I mean, male politicians never get criticised for what they are wearing do they?
     
  6. neonpeg

    neonpeg New Member

    Joined:
    May 10, 2010
    Messages:
    58
    Likes Received:
    0
    As young women we're pretty much the only ones who can carry feminism forward & turn it into the future because of what it means to us. So the fact that we are not hairy, baggy t-shirt wearing, man hating extreme 70s feminists can only be a good thing. The fact that we are also interested in fashion & look good can only help improve the image feminism has for younger girls not wanting to associate themselves with the mainstream narrow image that feminism has gained over the years.
     
  7. softgrey

    softgrey flaunt the imperfection

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2004
    Messages:
    52,690
    Likes Received:
    191
    wow....
    is that really what you think of as feminism...???...

    that is frighteningly inaccurate...
    and just frightening in general...
    :blink:...:ninja:...
     
  8. tigerrouge

    tigerrouge don't look down

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2005
    Messages:
    16,188
    Likes Received:
    3,481
    A pair of baggy T-shirt wearing lesbian feminists encouraged me, when I was a teenager, to envisage my future in meaningful terms, explaining the need for fairness and considered thought. They were an immensely caring couple, and tireless contributors to the community around them.

    In order for ideas to enter the mainstream, they must first make their mark in some extreme way - or initially be perceived as 'extreme' by those unsettled by the appearance of these new ways of thinking. I admire those women who had the courage to go against the accepted structures of society, they certainly displayed more bravery than I've ever had to.

    I hope women of all ages continue to push the boundaries of thought (and hairiness) in their attempts to find a fairer world for everyone to live in, regardless of how their efforts may be described or dismissed.
     
  9. kimberwyn

    kimberwyn New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2006
    Messages:
    390
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yeah, its kind of a double edged sword, that ive noticed. In the media you can get criticized for not being fashionable enough, like you mentioned with Hilary ...and honestly, she's not a fashion plate or a celeb so who cares what she wears? She dresses professionally and appropriately for what she does. On the other hand, if you're a regular person and you have a sense of pride in the way you look, expect to be looked down upon by the "pajama wearing brigade", as I like to call them. You know, the ones who only wear uggs with VS sweats or pajama bottoms tucked in and think anyone who wears heels is "weird". Apparently, Ive heard that's an American thing and that Europeons dress better than that. Must be nice :P

    I think I'm starting to get a bit off topic so I'll just stop there lol.
     
  10. iluvjeisa

    iluvjeisa clever ain't wise

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2004
    Messages:
    13,198
    Likes Received:
    35
    This is definitely not in the fashion industry's interest but I firmly believe that women should not have to spend 5 times the amount of time men spend on their appearance in order to be taken seriously.

    It's nice when people wear great clothes, but it should not be a requirement unless it is directly related to the work performed.
     
  11. fashionista-ta

    fashionista-ta Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2005
    Messages:
    16,912
    Likes Received:
    491
    Drusilla, agree with all you say here.

    I have never felt any conflict between my interest in fashion and my feminism ... granted, one came before the other--or at least, I knew I was interested in fashion before I realized I was a feminist :wink:

    I think it's really important for younger feminists to educate themselves about the hateful and inaccurate stereotypes of feminists that have been perpetrated in the media, with IMO the clear intention of intimidating women ... Betty Friedan was of course married when she wrote The Feminine Mystique. Only after she became a leader in the movement did her husband start beating her, and she had to kick him to the curb. She also had sons, and I'm sure at no point did she hate men. Many leaders in the women's movement were and are married or otherwise involved with men. As long as there have been feminists, there have been feminists who loved men.

    But the result of this lie is that today you have many women who are in actuality feminists, but disassociate themselves from the movement. "I'm not a feminist, but ..." This does not make us more powerful.

    I would love to see feminism assert itself much more in fashion, and I think a fantastic way to start would be to have the backs of the young women who work in fashion. If models were unionized, I think a lot of these problems could be solved quickly.

    It's odd to me that the majority of people who work in fashion seem to have rather liberal ideas, and yet ... we have all this misogyny. What's up with that? :huh:
     
    #11 fashionista-ta, Jul 15, 2010
    Last edited by moderator : Jul 15, 2010
  12. lacombelucien

    lacombelucien New Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2010
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    This. Very important. So many people buy into that crap about feminism as an alibi for some kind of Evil Nazi Women Agenda, based on what they heard that some prominent feminist once happened to say or not to say in the 70's. Heck, 95% of all feminists I know are either men or heterosexual women. It's not about female world domination, it's about equality.

    I do think fashion can be very feminist, yes. Short hair, Chanel's androgynous look and YSL's pantsuits were all revolutionary for the women's lib movement in their own context. We shouldn't let misogynist assholes like T Richardson make us forget that. :smile:
     
  13. YoninahAliza

    YoninahAliza New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2010
    Messages:
    3,385
    Likes Received:
    1
    Exactly, Lacombelucien, said it perfectly "It's not about female world domination, it's about equality." It is a shame that so many people agree with the values of feminism yet they won't call themselves a feminist. They are afraid of the label, that people will see them differently. Honestly, it hinders our efforts to become more united and achieve our goal of equality for all. In terms of fashion and its industry I think that it can be a place for feminist goals to be achieved but first we have to get rid of jerks like Terry Richardson, who believe that its okay to treat women as if they are inferior to men, and to sexually harass young women. What amazes me is that for all of the fashion industries liberal ideas they still allow someone like Richardson to be published in Vogue! Its simply awful that this has been able to continue to happen.
     
  14. yvesmanoel

    yvesmanoel New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2010
    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    0
    i guess fashion and feminism can, of course, coexist. i also consider myself a feminist (and i guess there are a lot of guys who consider themselves feminists too) and i know that a lot in fashion is a male's perpective of femininity. i think some visions in fashion empower women, but of course, some over-sexualized views of a woman who dresses herself for men aren't the best examples. and we had coco and we have now contemporary female designers who do womenswear in a way no men could ever do, although we love a couturiers vision of the female. i don't think sexy or sexualized portraits of women are against the feminist eye. women are portrayed in fashion a lot like they've been portrayed in art for the past centuries. contemporary feminism has to focus on real issues, not in futile ones. of course there are a lot of trash in magazines for teens and women, but i don't think you should see that as the "fashions portrait of the woman". fashion empowers women and is a very "feminine" universe of visions arround women but guess not in a bad way at all.
     
  15. ChristianThomas

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2009
    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    0
    I think clothing can be used by individual people to express feminism for themselves, but I don't think fashion, in the current day, should be considered as feminism or for that matter anti-feminism and to be honest I think that people who feel as if fashion is attacking feminism (or supporting it for that matter) is taking what designers create way too personal.

    Sure there is fashion that sexualizes women, then there is the masculine fashion, the very feminine fashion, etc, etc.. these all just cater to all the different types of women there are and really should not be considered as a political statement on the status of a woman. It's all nothing more than the vision of the designer and how he envisions his target group.

    And besides that it's said previously in the topic, I think feminism is all about an individual expression. It's probably true that the 'extreme' feminists used to fit a perfect box of how they looked and behaved, but that really isn't the case anymore. It's a state of mind more so than it being expressed in a specific dress code or so.

    does this make any sense?. it might not
     
  16. saann

    saann I don't know

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2005
    Messages:
    6,109
    Likes Received:
    2
    I don't think not caring about style and fashion (which are both considered feminine stuff right now) means being a feminist. Not caring about "feminine" stuff and finding them silly just means you're conforming to the male ideal and agreeing that the stereotypical male traits (not caring about fashion) are the right ones. you know, people who say feminists should have no make up, short hair, suits etc. they're just saying that for a woman to be strong she has to take on what is viewed as male adjectives. I don't think that's correct. Putting on a suit doesn't make you any more of a feminist than wearing a flowery dress. Being a feminist doesn't mean taking on male traits and dismissing everything viewed as feminine.

    that's why I do think fashion and feminism can co-exist. because being a feminist doesn't mean dismissing everything that is viewed as feminine (like fashion).



    It's really a dead match though, you can't win. if you care about your looks you're embracing that stereotype (women and looks) and making it even stronger, therefor accepting your given role in society and if you don't you're just celebrating the male traits and saying those are the right and the pure ones.

    I just say enjoy whatever it is that you enjoy. what really needs to change is the view of fashion as something entirely feminine and of "feminine" stuff as silly.

    Being a feminist means wanting equal rights between genders, not liking and disliking personal traits. I think almost every woman is a feminist, but she just doesn't admit it because she has that stereotype of them in her head.
     
    #16 saann, Jul 18, 2010
    Last edited by moderator Elisa: Jul 18, 2010
  17. fashionista-ta

    fashionista-ta Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2005
    Messages:
    16,912
    Likes Received:
    491
    So what's an example of a real vs a futile issue? "Futile issue" sounds like code for "You can't win this one, honey" ... truth be told, I love nothing more than to win a battle I've been told is unwinnable.
     
  18. iluvjeisa

    iluvjeisa clever ain't wise

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2004
    Messages:
    13,198
    Likes Received:
    35
    Excellent points saan! It's absolutely anti-feminist to assume that a woman who takes care of her appearance is an anti-feminist just for that reason. Women must accept each other, admire eachother's achievements and realize that some women are good at some things and others at other things....and to not judge all women solely because of looks. Because as long as women are divided into these two groups:

    1) Women who care a lot about how they look and disregard women who do not look good.

    2) Women who don't care about how they look and disregard women who make an effort.

    It's tricky to work up a liking for the other group because either it's these surly people who look at you the wrong way and try to make themselves feel better by assuming you're a call girl....or it's women dismissing others as loosers because they can't attract men well.

    I know this sounds very extreme....but I do think it's a core problem in society in general.

    However, in the fashion scene, I enjoy the b*tch fights as much as the next person :lol:
     
    #18 iluvjeisa, Jul 18, 2010
    Last edited by moderator julyandluvy: Jul 18, 2010
  19. fashionista-ta

    fashionista-ta Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2005
    Messages:
    16,912
    Likes Received:
    491
    My observation has been that low-maintenance women never seem to have trouble finding men ... they may not be honeypots, but who needs all those flies swarming around anyway :lol:

    I'm not sure it's tricky ... you just have to look past externals ... which are the least important part of a person anyway.
     
    #19 fashionista-ta, Jul 19, 2010
    Last edited by moderator : Jul 19, 2010
  20. YoninahAliza

    YoninahAliza New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2010
    Messages:
    3,385
    Likes Received:
    1
    Yvesmanoel, I disagree with your comment about how we ought to focus on "real issues, not futile ones" this is a real issue. So long as we allow the continuation of portraying women in art as they have for the past centuries it will be an important issue. How women see themselves affects how society see's them. So if women are feeling down on their looks and have low self esteem its going to hinder what society can achieve. Women need to be provided with places they can continue to grow and develop and one place should be through magazines. I agree, their is a lot of trash published in magazines however I think that magazines should be places where women can feel empowered. Perhaps, if magazines such as Vogue increased varying the sizes of women in their pages it could change the way women perceive themselves. Thus changing how they have been "portrayed in art for centuries" as you put it, which would then change how society see's us. One thing I do agree with though is that we do need to focus more on important issues such as providing everyone with stellar educational opprotunities, equal rights between men and women (especially in developing countries), ect. However, many of these issues aren't just pertaining to the female population but to both genders.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice
monitoring_string = "058526dd2635cb6818386bfd373b82a4"