31 January 2012

if the clothes fit

Someone asked me if I consider myself a fashion blogger or makeup blogger or what. At first I was offended (I get defensive easily LET IT BE KNOWN) but then I thought about it. It's a perfectly reasonable question to ask, considering the state of this blog. I'm not as interested in "fashion" as I once was, let's start there. As in, I don't spend hours trolling thru style.com archives anymore, taking notes on each and every collection in a Google Doc when I'm supposed to be paying attention in class. It's not as though I'm ignoring fashion, but rather, my focus in the industry is very finely tuned -- now more than ever. I know what I want out of fashion and I'm focusing all my personal style and creativity on attaining what I want out of the industry -- nothing more, nothing less. I think that is what makes fashion empowering to me, as a feminist. I use fashion as a tool of power/personal identity as much as I am used by fashion as an influencer thru my voice in social media. When people ask me about how I can possibly be feminist and be into fashion I feel like the answer should be obvious: it lets me do what I want. The end.  Minh-Ha T. Pham says it pretty wonderfully in this Ms. article:

If feminists ignore fashion, we are ceding our power to influence it.
 I mean, I get why people don't 'get' the fashion industry, I get that the representations of it can make it seem like a totally shallow, soul sucking industry. It can be. The parodies and satire are funny because they are sadly, woefully, true, in a lot of cases. Fashion isn't deep unless you give it depth. Once you put power and thought behind it, put meaning, it becomes something else: agency. Now, this agency can sometimes be at odds with privilege. It can be hard to like fashion when the only versions of fashion we see in popular culture are the ones modeled by skinny young white girls whose bodies don't resemble ours, who're wearing $500 tshirts and $798 skirts and $1000 worth of jewelry on each wrist. Make no mistake: I'm not hating on the people who can afford these things. Because rich people who see themselves in the popular representations, they might be using fashion as a means of identity, too -- it might just be easier for them to do it. There is nothing wrong with being rich, it's what you do with the money that counts. People read designer clothes and see what they want to see, you know? People see expensive clothes and think, "That person has it easy. That person is probably not like me." And it's easy to hate someone for it. I've done it before and I'll probably do it again in the future, I'm not perfect.  But you also have to take into consideration that fashion can't be equivocated to designer clothes -- it's bigger than that and it's smaller than that. Essentializing it into a scene for rich white girls is selling it short. You're dismissing the power it can give you, and that power is one of the most pervasive and widely used forms of communication you can have as a person. I mean, yeah. I think it's really stupid and fucked up that fashion designers don't make space for larger sizes -- I think it's unforgivable, really. And I think there needs to be a change. There is a lot wrong with the industry, but I think at heart fashion can be good, too.

 I think it's weird that people hate on fashion and in the same breath encourage people to "be themselves" and be unqiue. Girls are told we should "maintain ourselves" and in the same breath it's apparently uncool to be girly because being girly means we're dramatic and troublemakers and guys have 'so much less drama' and blah blah blah. All the mixed messages can really fuck with a girl. And I think a lot of the resentment towards fashion can be grounded in self-hate & the special snowflake complex.There's another blogger that said it pretty succinctly:

Jenny Holzer, Source
“Fashion is one of the very few forms of expression in which women have more freedom than men. And I don’t think it’s an accident that it’s typically seen as shallow, trivial, and vain. It is the height of irony that women are valued for our looks, encouraged to make ourselves beautiful and ornamental… and are then derided as shallow and vain for doing so. 

I love fashion. I hate fashion. I can't really live without fashion, because I can't escape clothes. I can claim defeat and pull on sweatpants and keds or jeans and a hoodie, but it's like slipping into someone else's skin, it doesn't feel like me. Fashion gets me into my own space, it's like I can breathe properly. I know that fashion can make people feel really bad about themselves but I think if you subvert it and use it and make it work for you and not the other way around it can be more than you'd ever expect......use the power it has and you get stronger because of it. I wrote a post about agency and fashion a little while ago, if you remember. The words are as relevant as ever:

I always return to the sentiment that my favorite clothes are my armor and my friends. They will never fail me. . . Clothes give me agency where talking often fails. . . I can be a feminist and also love fashion because I believe that your style and how you approach the industry and dissect and create the media can give you agency, give you a voice, give you strength. Passion in any form, like getting dressed (even if that is a simple form), just says that I am here and that I exist and I am not ashamed.