Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Why I think fashion is oppressive

I might as well admit from the onset that my relationship with fashion has been a rocky one. It started out when I wanted to know fashion and I tried hard to embrace it and follow it, perhaps even understand it, but a long time ago this relationship ended, it just wasn’t sustainable, and it left me saddened and perhaps even on the verge of depression many times because I couldn’t live up to its standards. Then I came to the important realization, I am better off without fashion, because indeed fashion is oppressive and stifling! Let me tell you what makes me say this.

You see, I believe that while the clothes we wear can never define us, when we naturally choose what we want to wear, based on our likes and dislikes, then what we wear reflects our personality. When there are no restrictions, people tend to choose clothes that they really like, and this usually tells a lot about each unique individual’s personality. Someone may choose to wear long flowy dresses or skirts because that makes them feel good, or someone else may choose to wear tailored pants because they feel the most comfortable in it. In the same way, one woman may love wearing heels while another will never feel comfortable unless her shoes are flats. This diversity in choice allows us to choose according to our preferences and these preferences say a lot about our personalities.

So where does fashion fit in?

Well, fashion comes along and begins to tell us exactly what we should be wearing. It dictates to us that skinny jeans looks much better than baggy jeans, it tells us that the clothes we like are “so last season”. It chooses the type of shoes we should be wearing. It tells us what colours to wear, what accessories to match it up with, it even tells us what shops to buy our clothes at. And if we think we are special we will soon see that we are wrong, because fashion doesn’t consider our individual preferences or even what we feel comfortable in, fashion doesn’t care if we prefer skirts to pants, or whether we love flowing clothes instead of tailored clothes, no, fashion goes around dictating the same thing to every single woman, based on what fashion thinks is “in”,  until eventually we all begin to look the way fashion wants us to and fashions dreams of the perfect attire are realized.

Sounds a bit crazy doesn’t it? Yet that’s exactly what happens, and the odd thing is if someone really came about and told us exactly what to wear we would probably kick them out of our houses.

Now, before you think this doesn’t apply to Muslim women who have decided to wear abaya’s or cloaks or jilbaab (depending on what you refer to the clothes as). Let me tell you it applies just as much. If you think that Muslim women’s clothes are just pieces of black material sewn together to cover them then you are so wrong. Let me tell you, there are “in fashion” abayas and “out of fashion” ones, and there is such a thing as that headscarf that is “so last season”. Oh, and let me not forget the designer name brand cloaks, abayas, and hijabs, yes people, fashion hasn’t ignored Muslim women, and its role as the oppressor is exactly the same for Muslim women as it is for any other woman.

But wait, there’s more…

The most oppressive thing about fashion is how it makes us women feel. See, fashion uses perfect women as its models, and it forgets to tell us that only a very small percentage of us will ever look like these perfect women. So we strive and yearn to look like fashion’s models and when the things they model to us don’t exactly look right on us we don’t criticize fashion’s tastes, instead we blame ourselves. We use all kinds of labels against ourselves as we strive to follow what fashion wants us to, and we don’t stop to think that maybe we are fine the way we are and the problem actually lies with fashion!

So, my advice to all ladies would be, get out while you can!

It doesn’t matter if your style is “out of fashion” or “last season”, if it’s what you are comfortable in then that should be good enough. So what if you have been wearing the same shoes for the past two years. Who cares if no one else still wears the type of headscarf you are wearing? What’s the problem if the dress you are wearing looks like it belongs in the 1980s. Make your choices yourself, don’t allow fashion to dictate to you. I don’t know about you, but if I attempted to wear skinny jeans I would probably drop dead within minutes due to lack of being able to breathe properly! 

Image from here