FFB3: How Do You Express Feminism in the Way You Dress?


Feminist Fashion Bloggers Google Groups week three! Check out the others here!

I express my feminism in the way that I dress, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the people who saw me missed that. Because I don’t have a “this is what a feminist looks like” t-shirt.

I wear things that I like, that I think suit who I am (that’s ideals, fictions, body shape, colouring). I don’t wear things just because I feel obliged to, though I don’t mean that I won’t adjust myself with a mind to setting, company or event.

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I don’t always express as much as I’d like to, because I am still not quite brave enough to wear bare unshaven legs outside of the beach (though incidentally? when I was at the beach last summer, a full busy beach, with my parents and my sister and my honey, I wore my faun-legs freely below bikini shorts and I did not notice one single negative anything. And I am always on the lookout, out of habit).

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Mentally, I feel pressure to – that “things would be easier” if I’d – trade on hotness. I have no desire to and I feel unpleasant at the thought of doing so, but I have the ability to look mainstream-pretty, I’m ‘petite’, and I’m able to present cleavage. I have a naturally sideways and loophole-spotting mind – I could try to go in for the hot girl leg-up. I wouldn’t be punished for it. It might make certain things come easier, or give me power or social importance. But it doesn’t come naturally, to my temperament – I’d feel like a sham and a traitor, and so I don’t. I guess that’s expressing feminism, choosing not to try the way that centuries of patriarchy have made seem the best way so often.. a way that, if everyone acknowledges it without actually acknowledging it, allows the suggestion that ladies (do/should/must) always come with a free boner?

It’s not that I look down on women who choose to trade on the symbolism of their bodies or their flirty manipulation skills. One of my favourite characters is Emma Frost; Jessica Alba as Max kills it when she’s undercover as a prostitute in Dark Angel early on. I won’t give real-life examples, because who knows how people like to be talked about. It’s that that way would be wrong for me, the genderless spirit-me, and choosing feminism (for me) means staying true to that knowledge despite what the gender roles I interpret say might be ‘a wise choice’.

I don’t wear make-up and that’s a feminist choice because wearing make-up annoys me. It disassociates me with myself. To wear make up, for me, would be giving in and performing as a fake lady who was not myself. Unless it was like this. So ask me again when the world ends, I guess.

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I use my dad’s hair clipper and some nail scissors to cut my hair, and I stomp around in Dr Martens. Sometimes I laugh at my hairy legs and my boots and my buzz and think “am I dressed up?” But I’m not. I bought my boots when I was eighteen, because they were (are) gorgeous and well-made and practical and made me think of the documentaries on “the punk scene” that I fell in love with as a tot. I stopped shaving my legs regularly (because shaving my legs was too annoying) when I was nineteen or so, but did it on and off for a year or two because I felt I’d be judged as gross. Same with armpits. I buzz my hair because I like to cut it myself, it’s a sort of meditation, and I can’t reach the back of my head properly. Short hair is nice; it never ever gets in the way and I don’t have to do anything to it to make me look like the me I want to.

A lot of my image and body feminism-passion comes from being annoyed, I suppose. “Just fuck off and stop getting at me” could be my slogan.

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But again, none of this is immediately obvious, if you look at me! Or if it is, it’s interpretable.

And that, of course, is why I blog.

I tell you about my struggles with accepting that I “carry a handbag”. I tell you about how I worry about what I’m projecting in a cinching belt. I tell you about what I mean to say with everything I wear, and I write about feminism and inequality and just stuff I am interested in right next to pictures of me, being comfortable in my lady-body, wearing the clothes that the brain and heart that think about all THAT stuff like to wear.

Fashion blogging is building profiles of people who wear clothes. If fashion blogging is supported by thought-blogging it becomes feminist, by way of enriching the dialogue about ‘what people are like’, and if clothing is presented in a feminist context it becomes an expression of feminism through wardrobe. Maybe I’ll see a lady in a dress and a knotted cardigan next week and think of Tea & Feathers, and I’ll assume that she’s a sister suffragette, so to speak. The world will seem a little brighter, because it usually does when you feel that people around you are on your side.

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About Claire Napier

Real cool gal
This entry was posted in activism, admiration, anachronisms that are, anachronisms that arent, bodies, bodyhorror, bollocks, character design, characters, dont be racist, feminism, inspired by, manifesto, me, observational, photographs not drawings, post-apocolyptica, purple, reference pictures, responsibility, self-tagging, serious matters, STRONG OPINIONS, tales from the sketchpages, themes, things i hate, things to change, wool. Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to FFB3: How Do You Express Feminism in the Way You Dress?

  1. Fishmonkey says:

    Beautiful photography, and great outfits. The post itself is even better though — and it is very true re: free boners. I always find it fascinating how often dudes get indignant when ladies dare to dress as if they don’t plan on being in a burlesque show. (And, oh, don’t get me started on straight male designers who constantly inform the world how they are straight, and bring to the fashion industry much needed straight male perspective, because where would we get this precious commodity if not from them and the entirety of Western civilization?)

    • illusclaire says:

      Oh, thank you!

      I can understand that it’s nicer when everyone fits one’s own aesthetic tastes, but a) I also understand that that is never ever going to happen so why complain loudly about it, and b) why do we gotta associate “looks good” with “looks like something I want to have sex with”? Or even “looks like something the stereotypical male would want to have sex with, thus is inherently sexual, thus I declare it is/it is making me hot”. Sure, sometimes that’s fine, but.. so often?

      I know that evolutionary psychologists would have an answer (of course), but the whole “being human” thing is about rising above basic biological urges and connections, isn’t it?

  2. I always love your photos, especially the last one! You make some good points, I think the ffb thing is really getting some great writing and thoughts out there.

    • illusclaire says:

      Thanks Pearl! I’ve been pondering a post on how&why I take my photos like I do.. since you mention it, maybe I’ll get it done!

      It really is, isn’t it? I’ve found myself leaving (and preparing to leave) a WAY higher ratio of comments to posts read, too.

  3. RK says:

    You’re right – I think fashion blogs have tremendous potential, if they had more dialogue between the images and the words. I think that’s why I am enjoying the FFB posts so much, because everyone is so willing to talk about the “image-making” process, if you will, and engage with the images all around us, as opposed to just saying “I like this” or “this is my picture for today.”

    • illusclaire says:

      I almost always gravitate to blogs that have a lot of words to go with their pictures. I think that’s why I got bored with flickr groups and modepass and so on, actually.. I started to get a sort of snow-blindness?

      If clothes are art, it’s good to have a curator’s paragraph giving a little background. If clothes are communication, it’s nice to clarify. If clothes are expression, it’s neat to have a conversation about that!

      • Cassie says:

        I agree with both of you – I can see how clothes look and what colour makeup is for myself. I want to know how it makes you FEEL.

        Also, for the record, I am CRUSHED the feminist fashion bloggers group is now defunct, before I even got to it.

  4. Love it–I just love it when you say “that’s why I blog”! Because it is interpretable! Great post.

  5. Those purple docs are great! I’d wear them all the time too (with plaid!).

    I’m loving the dialog and ideas coming from the FFB posts – and you’re is no exception!

  6. Yes!! I’m also really excited by the idea of fashion bloggers writing about feministy stuff, or at least presenting things in a feminist context as you said. It’s so great to find so many feminists who love fashion through this group!! It’s not an either/or thing!!!!

    • illusclaire says:

      It really is. I was a bit :/ about joining to start with (I am reluctant about groups in general) but I’m glad I went for it. It’s good to be heard, and to hear!

  7. Mrs Bossa says:

    I like the point about thought-blogging turning fashion-blogging into a feminist pursuit – that fact we’ve all got this ball rolling at all is testament to the intelligence and strong feeling out in the blogging world.

    And: I simply love the idea of ‘you being happy in your lady body’ – that is such a lovely way of putting something we all want!

    • illusclaire says:

      It is, and I’m glad to be a part of it.

      I’m lucky, I’ve always felt ‘at one’ with my body, though very much not with what other people thought or seemed to think of it. Without my body I couldn’t spend all day feeling, and with a different body I wouldn’t have spent my life feeling the exact things I have felt, bringing me to the me that I am. Which I like. So. It’s mine, it fits me, and I like it. :]

  8. littlelala says:

    Your pictures in this post are awesome! Fawn leg + werewolf and the 2nd to last one where you are pushing back your coat…so good. But really I found everything you said really impressive. There is a lot of thoughtfulness here. – Reading all the FFB posts and the dialogue happening b/c of them is really a great great read.

    • illusclaire says:

      Why thank you! I do my best.

      I’m pleased you’ve enjoyed the FFB conversation, too – I’ve really enjoyed this month’s discussion and it’s one of the joys of blogging that all the words are permanent enough to keep including and involving people.

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