Feature photo by Helga
Throughout the ages, womens’ fashion has been dictated by men.
It’s a bizarre concept since it’s widely accepted women do not dress up for men, they dress up for other women. Whatever orientation, gay or straight, men have time and time again dictated the trends and the fashion industry to cater to needs that they think they know. I do not claim to know what women want either. Even though I am very close to women and know many, I could never understand what it means to be one (nor would I want to). The fact of the matter is, even though women have made many strides in the past hundred years, it still isn’t enough to declare Operation Girl Power a full success.
Susan B. Anthony fought for suffrage and went to jail so she and generations of women after would be treated the same way as men. What recent waves of feminism have brought us is the sense that not only can women do anything, they are everything. Houses fronted by women, like Versace and Donna Karen, cater to that strong female who isn’t afraid to “hang with the big boys”. However, this often leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths and is regarded as vulgar or even reverse sexism. The funny thing is the more these women of an older generation became what they were today, a backlash against feminism broke out. In response to this, the infantalization of women grew to a point where models became waif-like, pubescent creatures wearing grown up looking clothing. The fantastical teenage models are nothing like the real life women who are the actual customer. What thirty year old women has the body of someone who might not even have a high school education?
Another disgusting parallel is that you have women who are at least in their twenties dressing up like tiny school girls, almost like a child pornography that you’d find somewhere like 4chan or in your creepy neighbor’s basement. This also has alienated men into thinking they need not worry about what they wear because no one is looking at them. The Pants and Shirt routine has not changed in the past 200 years and it seems high time that men get back to feeling good about themselves by taking the effort to express. Of course, these men believe fashion to be something for those little ladies to worry about.
The disillusioned fashion community has become such a commodity that, to borrow a phrase from Absolutely Fabulous, “if these models get any younger they’ll be chucking fetuses down the catwalk!” It seems as though women are being sold the idea that they need to be these sexy children- a completely bizarre concept. It’s the whole notion that objectified women will sell more magazines or handbags. If I see one more ad in Vogue with a model in pigtails I might just explode.
Yes, some of these girls might be young enough to pull off pigtails but does that mean they should? In fact, should teenage girls act so diminutive? What message are we sending these girls? I know people say teenagers are growing up too fast but perhaps we should create some sort of separate look. Skirts can be short yes, but do you also need to be sucking on a lollipop and laughing at some boy’s unfunny jokes just so that he’ll think you’re alright? At the end of the day, wardrobe is a woman’s choice, but people make dumb decisions.
Is it not enough that these misguided females think that in order to get a male’s interest they need to be dumb down to a level so… disturbing? Because it is disturbing to see a girl in a business suit and a woman in a baby doll dress. In the ’90s, the backlash to that “daddy’s little girl” vibe was heralded by riot grrl bands like Hole or Bikini Kill. They dressed up in a dolled up fashion but also contrasted it with an attitude that sent red state men (and women) running in the opposite direction. A little smeared lipstick helped too, but the fact remains that it is all just so literally juvenile. I think in order for the women of today to respect those of yesterday and tomorrow (not to mention themselves), they need to stand up and dress their age. One need not go back to childish rompers and Sailor Moon complexes, nor do they need to wear the other extreme of overtly sexy clothing. There has to be some in between look that would attract a man, not a pimp or a pedophile.
But what is that middle? Your youth is the time to have fun with your look but for God’s sake, you don’t need to look like a kindergartner! And what of those men dictating what you should wear? They want you to think that that is what men find sexy because either that’s what they think is sexy, the controversy would sell more clothes or indeed up sell the brand, or they don’t want to spend any extra money on fabric. Thankfully, designers like Rodarte and Jill Sander are creating more mature looks and grown up chic is back in the air. The fact of the matter is that what needs to change is what women find sexy.