Brisbane – Australia – September 2021
Interpreted, of course, through the subjective lens of the Beholder, ‘allure’ is achieved by an interesting, original, attractive dress sense.
That said, many will argue that fashion is about self-expression.
I’ll risk suggesting, here, that fashion is the expression of a vision.
It’s the 3-D realisation of entrepreneurs, ‘creators’ and celebrities who desire to make a profit, a considerable profit, mainly off the backs of girls and women.
Ever so well-intended, they reach their goal by giving them what they think they want most of all, i.e., ways to enhance and feature key aspects of their body parts.
Ironically, in this day and age, these ‘feature-worthy’ body parts are those that millennia of male-dominated culture have cemented as essential to ‘femininity’.
Since I sense a flurry of questions leading to more questions wanting some space on this page, here are the first ones.
Basically, as girls and women, is our intention to present our selves as attractive and interesting?
Or, by exposing and enhancing various sexualised parts of our bodies, do we aim to present as ‘something’ that is intended to tempt or ‘trick’ someone into doing or thinking something specific?
Neutral observation = no judgment: we could ask our selves these questions as we prepare ourselves for work or for any social occasion.
And any time our aim is to dress for ‘success’, to impress friends, foes or strangers alike.
Here are a couple more questions to ask our selves: what does my choice of clothes reflect back at me – and about me?
What is the intention behind my choice of eyebrow/eye enhancements, concealer cream/blush and lipstick?
What do these choices – or their absence – say about me?
Possible answer #1: an interesting, attractive, non-conforming individual?
Possible answer #2: studied good looks with an extra touch of glamour and sex appeal?
Possible answer #3: if I am ‘seen’, I am remembered so, my unconscious intention is to attract the attention of whoever.
Possible answer #4: __________________________________________ .
Another couple of serious questions: knowing that all life is influenced by energy, who or what can ever make us feel safe, ‘seen’, valued and supported when we show up as the best, most authentic version of our self?
In an era of global, cheap and fast fashion, what kind of ‘self’ is the content of our closets expressing?
Once upon a time in the ancient world, ‘fashion’ was an indicator of one’s social status. Already some 3000 BCE, the quality cloths differed between the classes.
These days, expensive, custom-fitted clothes, known as haute couture, are intended more for the rich than for the ‘noble ones’ in our midst.
But, feeling they have nothing to prove, many within that bracket often forego the glam trappings of high fashion.
Some may prefer to treat themselves to exorbitantly priced accessories.
Others might put their money in a fleet of high-end luxury cars, yachts, mansions or whatever takes their fancy.
Others might simply choose to focus on charities that adhere to ethical principles and lead a low-key lifestyle.
Reality check: deep down, we know our body parts do not really ‘express’ or define us.
We know that we are much more than the hollow between our breasts or the trembling of our freed nipples – much more than our bra size, too.
When we stop to think about it, we likely agree that the shape of our backside, the length of skin that peeps through the slit of our dress, and the height of our heels – along with all the rest we call ‘fashion’ – make ‘lures’ out of us more than give us genuine ‘allure’.
So, in the absence of any coercion, how do we explain the endemic popularity of the hyper-tight, stomach and tush-featuring skirts, slim jeans, leggings, faux yoga pants, shapewear and bodysuits intended to emphasise the pelvic area and the crotch as well as feature what is now referred to as the ‘bootie’?
Is a possible answer, ‘Because we know that flaunting their curves has worked so well for a few iconic ‘stars’ that, many of us, we choose to play the game of ‘follow the leaders’?’
Within the context of this mind-meander, ‘leaders’ are the boys and girls, men and women we like and follow on our screens.
They are often those we refer to as ‘celebrities.’
Women and, more recently girls, seem to lose themselves between the racks and the hangers.
Is it that, in a bid to liberate or express our authentic selves, we seriously assume that all we need to do to be taken seriously is to buy a version of these influencers’ stage wardrobes?
Serious question: how do we exercise personal autonomy and cultivate self-expression when, clearly, the vast majority of us choose to play that game in locked step?
Reality check: it’s a game that’s been played century after century and, of more recent memory, decade after decade.
Neutral observation: these days, of course, sexualised fashion is what sexualises so many children, even those still in kindergarten.
The ‘little man’ crew cut with taper fade sides comes to mind.
So do figure-hugging Jennings for little girls.
More unanswered questions: why don’t we collectively and separately think differently about the clothes we buy for our babies and toddlers?
Why don’t we think differently about the clothes we choose to buy for ourselves – and how we wear them?
By the time they enter primary school, an unprecedented number of little girls are already worried, sometimes terribly anxious, about their body image.
Already, they are concerned with the way fashion might ‘require’ them to wear their tops.
Tucked or untucked.
If tucked, how should it be tucked?
Totally or only a little bit above the fastening buttonhole?
If untucked, how long should that T-shirt be? What sort of hemline should it have?
Where should the ‘peep holes’ be located in this and that season?
In the back?
Off the shoulders?
Over the belly?
Young boys are also groomed as Little-Me versions of their fathers, brothers or ‘idols’. They, too, have to deal with gender-based issues but, like their adult counterparts, they seem much less self-conscious about the clothes they wear.
Perhaps, it’s because – so far, none of their body parts has been the focus of male fashion.
Quite the contrary.
The fashion styles chosen for boys and men worldwide does very little to titillate the female gaze.
Aside from perhaps the casual display of their arms and legs, ‘private’ body parts remain demurely covered and largely undetected – even when wearing ‘spray-on’ jeans.
As the saying goes, what’s good for the goose is also good for the gander.
‘Fashion’ has worked well for Mattel’s Barbie and Ken … dolls
Yes, of course, these days, the beauty and fashion industries are targeting boys and men like never before. Foundation, concealer, bronzer, hair gel, beard conditioner and killer haircuts are all the go.
Yes, boys and men, too, can choose to ‘doll up’ to boost their confidence and sex appeal.
It’s just that boys and men seldom have, if ever throughout history, followed the line to the same extent as girls and women.
Bottom line: generally speaking, boys and men are not objectified by fashion any more than they are by the female gaze.
Dear Reader, rather than over-explain as per my tendency, I’d rather let you decide what I mean by that. 😊
Kind thoughts from me.