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It’s one of the biggest clichés of modern times. To be a woman is to have a passion for fashion. Or at least a passing interest.

To some this is completely normal and only what is to be expected from the girlies. However in a post-feminist era, some sectors of the female population (namely me) have been feeling guilty for embracing such obvious feminine qualities.

To be interested in fashion acknowledges the fact that appearance matters. We are constantly sold the contradiction that it’s what’s deep down that matters, while at the same time making sure we are a slave to the fashion industry.

How is anyone supposed to make sense of such double standards? Not only is the acknowledgement that appearance matters present, but there’s also the startling fact that an interest in fashion suggests that it is important. Aren’t we supposed to be more involved in weightier matters such as politics, economics and whatever passes for real news today?

And hence, we have the guilt. We shouldn’t be interested in fashion, because it’s shallow, because it’s cliché, and at the end of the day it’s a triviality that doesn’t matter. Then again, maybe it does. Maybe it’s a welcome distraction from all the rest of the nonsense that goes on. It’s nice to look at pretty pictures of pretty clothes. Nice patterns. Nice colours. Nice nice nice.

To delve into more seriousness and still keep up the clothes quota, think about the history of the fashion. The rise and fall of hemlines to reflect economic prosperity (or lack of). The corset, the (entirely fabricated) bra-burning incident. The freedom of the flapper girls. And so on ad infinitum. I could probably add more to this, but I’ll admit I often get distracted by the pretty pictures and so don’t read up too much on the details, but you can. If you like.

So in the post-feminist world, don’t worry if you like fashion. If you also demonstrate your intelligence through other arenas, I think you can just about get away with it. That’s what feminism should be about anyway – the freedom to be how you want to be and not be judged for it.
So I say, like fashion, or, don’t like fashion. Your choice, my choice, everyone’s choice.

The funny thing is, I don’t even like shopping.


  1. WhiteRabbit said...
    Such contradiction is unfortunately the basis of life. Artists feel it important to express themselves, but unless they have a real job or want to die, they need to make money from what they produce, which is therefore more expressive of their desire not to die, instead of another theme they felt they wanted to show. But it is expressive nonetheless.
    The problem with ideals such as it being whats inside that counts, can be seen with the example of the theoretical stances of capitalists and communists, or between militarists and those people that don't like violence. Pacifists! That's it, nearly said fascist then, that's not right! But anyway, were the whole world to be communist, or pacifist, it would only take one small country to be capitalist, or miliatarist, and that would be the end of the others.
    To be interested in something doesn't need to mean you consider it important. I like Yoghurt, ut it know it isn't important, it's just nice. And often more rewarding than getting involved with political matters out of our control. Especially those Peach Melba ones from Zielpunkt. The yoghurts that is, there are no Peach Melba Political Matters that I'm aware of.
    How one looks does matter, however much it shouldn't. As that bloke from that programme said, "its not logical, but true", and also it contributes to how the wanting is better than the having. But that is unfortunately how people work, and for all our faults, I guess generally we think each other nice. Nice Nice Nice. I liked the cross-reference there.
    Shopping is nice.
    miri said...
    The implication that as women if we are interested in fashion, we also HAVE TO demonstrate our intelligence through other arenas as a way of justifying ourselves, is an interesting one. As women, do we always have to prove our intelligence? What if, God forbid, we just like fashion and we're not particularly bright?! Does this make us less worthy women? Just a thought!
    Jenn Astle said...
    What if women stopped looking at fashion as a shallow cliche that they need to feel guilty about enjoying and rather re-define it as contemporary artistic expression through dress? I mean, that's what all the women who really enjoy fashion will say, "It's Art!", that's what the designers will tell you, they consider themselves artists.

    Why hasn't the rest of the world see the same? I think women are lucky to have such a range of choice when it comes to dress. It opens up the possibility of individual expression (which is part of what we are fighting for as feminists isn't it?).

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