Posts Tagged ‘clothes’

For Halloween this year my girlfriend and I decided to go as Shaggy and Velma. While looking for clothes in a thrift store, my girlfriend started playing with the idea of going as a sexy Velma. Going along with it I suggested I go as a sexy Shaggy as well.  (more…)

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Have any women out there felt a conflict or contradiction between their feminist identity and desire to adorn their bodies? That is, can I shave my legs and simultaneously protest patriarchy? I know of many women (including myself) who have struggled with this and similar questions. In a culture so rampant with images of plucked, primped and worked-out women and men, it’s sometimes hard for me to decide if I want to display my feminist protest on my body or wear pretty clothes, shoes and jewelry.

When I read Gala Darling’s post “Am I A Hypocrite For Professing Radical Self Love While Wearing 5 Inch Heels?” or “Can you call yourself a feminist and still wear lipstick?” I was thrilled to read her take on these very questions. As a woman who blogs about fashion and style and who also boasts a “Radical Self-Love Bootcamp” program, Gala Darling’s work may seem to contradict itself. So she asks the million-dollar question about lipstick and feminism, and raises very good points about bodies, body adornment  and our selves.

Gala points out that when we (women and men alike) display our bodies the way society wants us to, we are rewarded for this behavior. This could be by wearing makeup, stylish clothing, shaving, etc. Gala calls this “beauty” privilege.”  Beauty privilege can be as simple as a smile from the person ringing up your groceries! In a lot of ways it’s easy and comfortable to conform to beauty standards when you can in order to access beauty privilege. Of course, not all bodies have equal access to this privilege. It is overwhelmingly easier for able bodies, thin bodies and white bodies to access beauty privilege. Access to money helps beauty privilege too!

Further on the subject of beauty and feminism Gala explains, “I’ve spent some time recently thinking about “beauty” & trying to reconcile that with truthful feelings about myself. A major & difficult piece of the puzzle is that none of us grew up totally free from societal influence, & so it is almost impossible to separate what we really want from what we think we want…. The place I keep coming back to is that even when I recognise that my ideas of beauty have been passed down to me from society, it doesn’t feel good to me when I choose to deny myself something which provides me with genuine enjoyment….

Gala argues that body adornment is akin to art. People are attracted to aesthetically pleasing objects, whether natural or manufactured, and enjoy being surrounded by them. Of course there is variety in peoples’ tastes, but I think it’s fair to say that most of us like having pretty things around us!

She further notes that “wanting to feel beautiful does not make you a bad feminist or a bad woman. It does not mean that you are being oppressed or that you lack the ability to think for yourself. Wanting to adorn ourselves is natural & normal — very few of us live in houses that are all function & no form, & while we COULD all drive boxy Volvos, the truth is that most of us are attracted to beauty — however we choose to define it.”

Lastly, I found this point quite persuasive: “Some women say that if we wear lipstick, we’re only doing it because society has told us to. I would argue that the woman who tries to buck society by NOT wearing lipstick is just as influenced! No one exists in a vacuum, & almost all of our decisions are effected by external sources.”

I find Gala Darling’s discussion of beauty, bodies and feminism quite persuasive. I like wearing clothes that flatter my shape. I like having smooth legs and putting glittery eyeshadow around my eyes. I love earrings and bracelets. This doesn’t make me less of a feminist, right? What are your thoughts?

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A friend sent me this series of men photographed in traditional “pin-up” girl poses. They sure capture the pin-up girl vibe: Look at those arched backs, pursed lips, and inviting gazes!

Yet the difference is obvious: these “pin-up boys” wear jeans and camo and are depicted with traditionally masculine props such as dumbbells and a wrench. What do these recognizable poses on different bodies do for us viewers?

I love these pictures because they subvert the pin-up girl image. Seeing male bodies in pin-up poses takes apart what we’re used to seeing, and for me expose the silliness of pin-up girls while questioning their supposed sexiness. These guys do look silly! We’re used to seeing women with their backs arched and chests thrust out, even in the midst of their regular activities (like vacuuming, apparently). Seeing men in the sam poses while doing their regular activities (fishing? Skateboarding? Talk about the sexual division of labor!) exposes its artificiality; exposes the pin-up girl as the fantasy she is.

Do these men look sexy to you? I think they look funny, which reminds me that “sexy” means different things on different bodies. In U.S. culture, one kind of sexy = slender white women doing chores with their underwear exposed. Does it work in reverse? Do these men look sexy, or goofy and posed? 

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