In a world where first impressions make all the difference, how individuals express themselves through fashion should be very important. The clothing men and women wear offers onlookers a “Spark Noted” version of who they are and what they value. Although a necessary art form, fashion is often trivialized or dismissed because of it’s obvious associations with women.
“Yes, I shop a lot,” said senior Erica Jones, Environmental Management and Protection major at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.
Jones believes that the traditional roles that women played still have an affect on society today.
“It goes back to how women used to be perceived, the stereotypes of frivolity relating to the house wife that had nothing to do all day except shop,” said Jones.
If society is unable to collectively break away from the outdated cliches, women will continue to remain oppressed. Fashion is an overt art form of expression and is a means of communicating with others without the use of words. The fashion industry is predominantly women-run and is, therefore, a sector of interest for most of the women outside the industry. By shaming the act of partaking in fashion by emphasizing negative connotations of shallowness and self-obsession, society inadvertently shames women for their desire to voice their own thoughts, views, and emotions.
In an ironic twist, women are heavily valued for their looks and appearance, but then subsequently torn to pieces when they comply with society’s standards and expectations of fashion. An example of this can be seen through the reactions to Miley Cyrus’ outfit choices during her VMA performance just a few months ago by critics. She was dressed with the intention of pervaying “sexy” like society time and time again thirsts for, but Miley was met with an outrageous amount of slut-shaming for doing so.
“I know there is a lot of slut-shaming about how women dress and so they can’t dress the way they want,” said Jenny Phu, a sophomore Business major at Cal Poly. “I also know that when people say they’re into fashion, they definitely aren’t taken as seriously as someone who is into science.”
Fashion may not seem like the typical feminist war zone for progress or radical change, but as Jenell Navarro, a women and gender studies professor at Cal Poly pointed out, the initial complexity of stitching the words “feminism” and “fashion” together isn’t important.
“People embody things differently,” said Navarro. “If people actually understand the importance of equality, that is all I care about.”
Hopefully, with time, both men and women will be able to understand the distinct correlation between the roles fashion and feminism play within our society. Many are already able to piece the two concepts together only realize that they are actually cut from the same cloth.
“Although society typically places too much pressure on how one should look,” said sophomore Dani Berton, a Communications major at Cal Poly. “I believe that we are progressing and society is beginning to accept individuality more.”