For the third installment of the Feminist Fashion Bloggers weekly posts celebrating Women’s History Month I’ve been asked to answer a question: How do you express your feminism in the way you dress?
Initially, I didn’t have an answer. Do I express my views through my clothes? Maybe fashion and feminism are two separate things to me, and never the twain shall meet.
To find out, I thought back to my childhood. It’s a bit hazy, so I went to a reliable source: my mom. I thought she would know how I started my love affair with fashion. I gathered up a few pictures she had taken of me as a child and started asking questions.
Turns out, from a very young age (say, 3 or 4), she let me pick out my own clothes. I’d shop my closet and mix and match things any way I wanted. I learned about what worked and what didn’t, and I wasn’t following anyone else’s rules. Maybe I shouldn’t have mixed two different patterns, but I did—and no one got hurt! My mom instilled in me a few ideas, one of which is not to worry about what others think. Another is to do things I want to do, not things other people tell me I should do.
She told me a story about how when shopping for winter boots, I picked out a pair that she found atrocious. She steered me to a more practical pair and gave me reasons for choosing them. I looked her in the eye and sweetly stated, “But Mom, I have my own taste.” That sealed the deal. She thought that—despite being 5 years old—I was right. I wasn’t her. I was me. I had different tastes in fashion—and that’s okay. And, I got the boots!
I remember them well. An auburn faux-fur shaggy pair of boots that looked like Bigfoot’s actual feet. I loved them! Sure I had to comb out the snow every day, but I wouldn’t have traded them for the world. And to be honest, if I found a pair in my size today, I’d buy them.
I believe dressing for myself boosted my confidence and gave me a feeling of independence. I had a creative way to express my individuality. Thinking for myself and knowing what I wanted helped me in many ways. I grew up without succumbing to (too much) peer pressure. I learned to speak up for myself and not worry about what “people might think.”
I was lucky that in high school, I was allowed to cut and color my hair and try crazy clothing combinations. I didn’t dress “for boys.” They could like me or not, but my funky wardrobe and I were a package deal. I never could stomach the “dress sexy for your man” articles I see in magazines.
I have pretty diverse fashion choices. I’ve had long hair and short hair, blond, brown and red hair. I can dress up or down, dress girly or tough, and I can use clothing to express my moods. I’m not sure men “get” my clothing choices. My husband recently confessed that he thought I was color blind for the first few months we dated. I took that as a compliment. An unexpected color combination might not be a turn on, but I think I deserve points for originality. Perhaps my wardrobe—and it’s lack of short-and-tight numbers—has acted as a filter to weed out the more shallow guys I’ve met.
I enjoy clothing in an artistic way. Mixing colors and creating textures and shapes with the space I have to work with describes both how I paint and how I wear clothes. I enjoy being creative and having fun. Art and fashion provide that outlet. I don’t have time to paint every day, but I have to wear something, so I challenge myself and enjoy the process.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I express my feminism in the way I dress by dressing for myself.
Check out all the other cool posts at Mrs Bossa’s site. Scroll to the end (after you read her post, of course) and you’ll see a list of links to all the other FFB pages.