Fashion and feminism

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This is an article to express the frustration of choosing between feminism and fashion because for many people the two terms are just poles apart. A feminist website or blog or magazine will be full of content based on tragedies of women and how they overcame it. Anything related to the supposedly ‘pink’ world is chided upon.


A feminist is assumed to wear a kurti (Indian traditional long tops), beaded necklace and a tote bag (at least in India) and are always ready to debate over anything and everything if they here the words ‘women’ or ‘men’ in their hearing radius. My friend had a recent encounter with one such feminists. He said that we were all just hanging out for a meal and out of no where this women started criticizing every man on the planet. She was definitely a feminist, won’t you think?

The movie ‘legally blonde’ might not be the most sensible movie you’ve seen and you might even label it as stupid but it represents just what the world is:  a judgemental top notch educational institution where even if you get admission and keep proving your intelligence, if you wear pink or know what Prada is that means you’re silly and dumb.


A feminist website/blog/magazine talks about women. Sorry, it talks about women who achieve something, women who’ve suffered, rape, anti men themes. But darling if you talk about a woman’s body or hair and grooming skills, that clearly portrays that you- my dear do not deserve to survive. As the Huffington Post once wrote, fashion and feminism are two people with a mutual best friend who are both afraid to be left alone. What I question is why can’t they be best friends. Think about the days you wear a beautiful and comfortable dress or lingerie or have a new haircut, don’t you feel surprisingly up beat and confident? But at the same time the skinny models of the fashion industry confuses you. Do these two points make the two words-feminism and fashion- world’s apart?

Elaine Showalter, the famous feminist, wrote, “My passion for fashion can sometimes seem a shameful secret life.” What is even more surprising is that fashion is seen separate from feminism when fashion is at it’s very core. The 1920s saw a complete change in women’s clothing with the coming of flapper girls. The flapper girls wore short dresses, short hair, danced and smoke. It was a decade of androgynous clothing. It was a way to resist the societies forced corsets and clothing style. The society judges us on the basis of what we wear and what we do not. If the feminists ignore the huge fashion world then they are giving away the power of clothing in another person’s hands, instead they should use it for a political motto.

Once, a few set of women believed that feminism meant getting voting rights. Another generation of women came along which talked only about the rights of a white woman. Then rose the black women who marched for their right to vote and equality in the society. Then there was Florence Nightingale who believed that if she has paved a way for women in the nursing industry then their feminist rebellions were useless, instead they all should join her. We are doing the same secluded feminist protests. Our motto says equality in every respect. But, it does not mean that women will have to follow a certain fixed state of mind and uniform. Men and women should also have the freedom to love the art of dressing and grooming. If a woman demeans another woman for her passion for fashion then she lost the whole point of feminism. The very concept of women making rules to control another woman’s freedom to dictate what she should or should not like is in itself a child of patriarchy and anti-feminist.

In the novel, “The Color Purple” (by Alice Walker), Celie’s first step into economic freedom comes through making pants. These pants are also a symbol of changing fashion. In the novel, “Gulliver’s Travel” (by Jonathan Swift), if you have noticed properly then fashion is a very important theme. Gulliver describes the clothing style of every place he visits as well as his own clothes. When we read history, we delve into the hairstyles and clothes of that particular era or region. Black women in the 1960s-70s wore denim overalls instead of dresses to fight to dress according to their own choice. The symbol of breast cancer is of the color pink.

The fashion industry, too has been wrong on many levels such as favouring a particular female body type in different ages. At these times, we rise to criticize the industry saying that media and fashion have a great influence on the psychology of a human mind because of it being intensely visual. I would use this very statement to say that because of this ability of fashion, let’s use it. And not every fashion objectifies women and hence you should be able to enjoy fashion without being rebuked.Thus, fashion is both feminist as well as anti-feminist.


Let us wear what we love to wear, and is comfortable. Let us style our hair which makes us more confident and feel beautiful because feminism wants every woman to feel beautiful and confident. Let us not be bound by the feminist uniforms and styles, nor by the “ideal” body in fashion, because clothes or hair do not make you a feminist and fashion is not constant




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