Gentle Reader, it is so important to the women of America to see a strong, powerful woman in beautiful clothes. Those clothes are strong and powerful, yes, but they are also feminine, and subtle, and gorgeous.
For so long, women have been told: beauty or brains. Career or self/family. And, if a woman so choose career and brains as well as beauty and self/family, she is then told beauty is transient, fashion is selfish.
Why is choosing to be feminine, choosing to enjoy fashion, choosing to decorate and accessorize and beautify one’s body considered selfish, and wrong, and anti-intellectual?
I have conducted extensive research into fashion and its importance to history, culture, and literature. I enjoy clothes, and pretty things. I like jewelry, the colors pink and purple, and just yesterday, reveled in a purchase of Urban Decay eyeshadow. I am girly. I like girl things. And at some point in the pretty recent past, most likely the second-wave feminist movement in the 1970s and 1980s, we were taught that Girly Does Not Equal Feminist. Domesticity is counter-productive to the feminist movement.
Notice I said movement, singular, because any movement that claims equality but denies equality to all of its members (we few, we happy few, we band of girly girls) is a singular movement.
I believe in Feminisms. I believe in feminist movements and momentums. As a third-wave feminist, I can do nothing else.
I admire FLOTUS and her team of stylists–as one of the most fashion-forward and important women in America, she most certainly has a team of stylists–for choosing beauty AND brains. These are smart clothes that convey smart ideas. They are decidedly American in portrayal, ideal, and style. They are beautiful and strong, feminine and business-like. They are the perfect clothes for the classic American woman who doesn’t “want it all” but rather, recognizes that she can have what she wants, instead.
Enjoying fashion and beauty, reveling in domesticity, reading romance novels, watching chick flicks, none of these things means a woman isn’t strong, or smart, or worthy of attention. It isn’t anti-feminist to be concerned with appearance, and clothes, whether those are girly, punk, butch, preppy, goth, or (INSERT BRAND OF STYLE HERE). Clothes are clothes; we all wear them. What we choose to wear makes us fashionable. It makes us beautiful. Let us stop pretending that we don’t care about our bodies, or that bodies aren’t important. They are important. They are beautiful.
We are beautiful.
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2 thoughts on “FLOTUS”
Hi! I thought this post was thoughtful and totally worth commenting on. I love your argument—femininity is not inferior, ever—but I’d also like to take it a step further.
I confess I don’t much care for modern fashion. Idealistic reasons aside, it simply doesn’t draw my interest. I’ve been told that by choosing not to wear make-up or read fashion magazines, I have abandoned my femininity. I’ve also noticed that men who have an interest in fashion are called “metrosexual” and taken less seriously because they are too “feminine.”
Here’s the thing: fashion is not inherently feminine. Men who enjoy fashion or wear make-up are not being feminine; they’re being men who enjoy fashion or wear make-up. And women who don’t often primp and preen are not masculine; they just have other interests. Honestly, I wish we could just let go of this idea that certain human interests are inherently masculine or feminine. It’s damaging to both genders, in my opinion. We teach boys that they must like violence, and we teach girls that mathematics and the sciences are masculine studies. It’s silly, especially when there was a time women were frowned upon for wearing high heals because they were a man’s shoe.
To me, in a perfect world, everyone would be free to pursue fashionable dress or not without ridicule, regardless of gender.
100% agree with you. I speak to this as a woman and feminist because that’s how I identify, but I know many men and intersexed people who enjoy dressing as they want to, not as they are told to. And subcultures like the Goth or Steampunk scenes, for instance, offer all genders the chance to “play” with fashion and makeup.
Thanks for reading and commenting!