Feminism and Fashion – the Eternal Confliction

On the surface, the fashion industry looks as anti-feminist as you could possibly get, but that doesn’t mean that feminists don’t want to look good. The question that many feminists face is how they can embrace fashion (dressing a certain way, and expressing their own personality), whilst making it clear that they don’t necessarily agree with the way the fashion industry as a whole operates.

Dakota Fanning

The Destructive Fashion Industry

Many of the objections that feminists have to fashion are based on the way that the fashion industry can be rather destructive. The industry promotes a female body ideal that is unattainable for many women, and also sends negative messages – if you don’t own certain pieces of designer gear, or dress in a way that isn’t currently popular, then that makes you worth less than someone who conforms.

The industry is also renowned for rocketing a model to fame one year, then disposing of that model once it’s decided that their nose is too pointy, or their hips too wide to suit the lacy underwear of the day.

Fashion and Freedom

The feminist idea of fashion is different to the slavish ideas of the mainstream industry. Modern feminists wear lacy underwear because it makes them feel confident. They wear elegant dresses because they like the style, and they wear mannish suits not because they feel they must if they want to succeed in business, but because they fancy the extra pocket space.

If a feminist likes their body, and poses in Playboy, then they’re doing so because they want to. If they’d prefer to wear a little black dress and a pair of silk gloves to a night club, then they’ll do that instead. Feminists, at least those in the “equality” camp rather than the “man hating” camp, do things for themselves, and encourage others to do whatever they want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else.

No More Judging

In many cases, the toughest critics in the fashion world are other women. There are some feminists out there that spend far too much time looking at what other people are doing, and putting down other women simply for being themselves. It’s time that those women stopped critiquing the actions of others, and focused on supporting their fellow women – whether they want to pose in Playboy wearing nothing but a pair of silk gloves, or emulate Margaret Thatcher.

The fashion industry will always be here – it may push for different values in a few years’ time, but the business of telling people what to want, and what to wear, will exist for as long as there are people willing to look for guidance. If feminists want to change that, then perhaps they should spend their time pushing for a freer form of fashion, one where self-worth isn’t tied to how much money you spend, how small your waist is, or how big your bust is, but is instead tied to how creative, fun, and happy you are.

image source: Elle UK


  1. Angie Vianzon

    January 4, 2014 at 3:09 am

    It is time that people have a different perspective about how people should look. Come on, it not like we have the same built and body type. Instead of judging, let’s simply help each other.

  2. nadine @ 143angel.com

    January 6, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    even if I’m not familiar with the fashion industry, I can say that this is true. Some try to critique what they see that famous models wear, this and that just because it’s something they don’t like. Well, that is indeed their right but then shouldn’t they just think of them as inspirations and support them?

  3. Kath Rivera

    January 6, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    I have to agree with this that the ideal body of a woman nowadays are predicted by the advertisements that tends to show skinny model like body image is perfect that’s why lots of anorexia and bulimia cases are being reported. On the other hand, i like the feminists helping one another in the name of fashion not looking the negative side of one another.

  4. Dhadha

    January 7, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    Fashion and feminism can contradict each other a lot, but at the same time they can definitely co-exist. 🙂

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