The compatibility of feminism and fashion is fast becoming the topic of many debates. This is especially true because we feminists have used fashion as a medium of expression of our ideals. Whenever we choose to communicate a slogan or a movement, it is not uncommon to see new tees spring up illustrating these ideas.
Fashion today has become one of the most effective feminist tools. Campaigns such as the #MeToo movement can be communicated through fashion for the whole world to see and know what side of the divide you stand on.
Feminism aspires to create an equal society for everyone irrespective of gender, colour, race, or sexual orientation. Does, fashion tie into that same ideal. The answer is neither a straight yes or a straight no.
Let’s talk body shaming. In recent times, women have begun to embrace body positivity regardless of size, but for the longest time, this wasn’t the norm. In fact, it was quite common for women to be body-shamed by designers in the fashion industry. Conversations like “she is too fat to walk the runway” have driven models to conditions like anorexia in a bid to keep a perfect body that is always ready to strut. We should not also forget how difficult it can be for plus size women to find their sizes in the stores as they simply aren’t made as much as the ones for slimmer sized women. Fashion simply has a reputation for dictating almost unattainable standards for women.
There is also the notion that women embrace fashion, beauty and makeup for the male gaze which is simply not true. A number of reasons exist why women wear the clothes they wear, or the makeup they adorn, and male gaze or sexual attraction does not just cut it. Fashion is a personality thing. For some women, it is a medium of empowerment. Different women use their dressing to express their different personalities in the different ways they dim fit. Narrowing it all down to a need for sexual attraction objectifies women. The very thing feminism is against.
However, fashion has helped to give many women a voice, a platform. Many young women have role models in the creative industry, all thanks to fashion. Not only do we have a chance to listen to what more women have to say, but we also have the opportunity to glean from their creativity and even expand our own thought processes.
Do we need more women in fashion? Yes. Do we need more feminist women in fashion companies’ board rooms? Of course, yes! That is the only way we can crush stereotypes that have permeated the fashion industry over the past years.
I would argue that even though fashion has come a long way from where it used to be, it still has a long way to go. Loving fashion is not anti-feminist, however, we must be very conscious of the ideals we propagate subconsciously.
So, are feminism and fashion compatible? I guess we can say it hasn’t been totally compatible in times past, but that can change in future.
Blessing Iyamadiken is a media and marketing specialist with 4 years experience in the industry of digital marketing, publishing and advertising. She is also a feminist and very passionate about Gender Equality. In her spare time, she loves to read or binge on Netflix.