August 6, 2012

Men and Women's Fashion

Peter asked a question (actually my question): Why are men the arbiter of women's fashion?  His answer, and the answer most commonly given in comments, is that men are bored with their own clothes.  I don't see this as an acceptable reason to tell women how to dress, and with it how to act, how to walk, and so on.  If men's fashion is boring, make it interesting!  Peter's toile jeans and cabana wear attest to the unexplored possibilities in men's wardrobes.

In my opinion, it's a quantum leap from "men's clothes are boring" to forcing women into painful and impossible molds.  Maybe women's tenuous roles over the last 150 years made us easier to manipulate.  What better way to do this than by reaching into the core of how we feel about ourselves?  Male designers may mean to create something new or make women beautiful.  But by decreeing what's hot and what's not they draw a line down the middle of each woman that separates her strength and intelligence from her fears of not measuring up.

The unrealistic standards that proliferate in the West today, and have been rampant for over 50 years, make sure that women can never measure up.  This is not a world I want to live in so I stopped buying into the dominant paradigm.  By rejecting the idea that women look like ageless 16 year-olds, have beauty before brains, and sacrifice everything just to look good, I've created a more healthy space to create my own self-image.  Yet I'm like an avalanche survivor: you can create an air pocket with your hands, but eventually you run out of air.  Maybe by joining together we can save each other.


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