Feminism is a hot topic, and it’s one that has been around for centuries (just without the name), it’s an important topic and one that needs to be discussed more, with more open minds in the picture – but as I scroll through Instagram before my bedtime and see thousands of #GIRLPOWER and #FEMINIST hashtags on irrelevant posts, as I see young girls who more than likely haven’t had the feminist talk in school wearing Forever 21 slogan tees with “FEMINIST” written on them, I begin to pose the question: Is feminism becoming a fashion statement?
You could argue that it’s been a fashion statement since the Spice Girls made it their whole “thing” – Girl Power was their entire selling point and lets face it, we all loved it. We loved seeing the strong characters in the girl group and we loved the fact that they were all each unapologetically themselves. There was no stopping Geri Halliwell in her Union Jack dress at the 1997 Brit Awards and Sporty Spice, Mel C, rocked her tracky bottoms and sports bras, these were women having fun and being themselves while spreading the message that really, women could be whoever they wanted to be. We loved it.
When feminism comes into the equation I often think about how when I was a little girl, as in, lunch boxes that were made of tin, age, we’d go shopping in a store that I’m not even sure exists anymore, and there’d be notebooks, lunch boxes, pencil cases and loads more, of a cartoon girl who would have the slogan: GIRLS RULE! – I remember wanting it just because for some reason I liked the idea of girls being bad ass, I was the type of kid who looked up to Teen Titans’ Raven and always thought that Buttercup from the Power Puff Girls was awesome.
So when I think about feminism, I actually think that there were companies out there plugging it into my head from a young age. Female empowerment. So with the Spice Girls being the it group, girls rule slogans and strong female cartoon characters in the mix, you could say I grew up not understanding why there was a difference between men and women to begin with. You could say I felt sheltered, not understanding where the oppression even was.
I’d been sold girl power for all of my life, it was factual to me at that point that girls were just as strong and funny and cool as boys, so at age fourteen when the feminism movement seemed to really kick off on Tumblr, I turned against it. I thought it was an unnecessary and that these were people kicking up a fuss for the sake of it, “bimbos” wanting to get their tits out for the world.
I’m not embarrassed to admit that though, I was fourteen and blinded by a blissfully girl empowered upbringing, I’ve also been “one of the lads” and labeled a “tom boy” much to my frustration later on in life, but I began to question if whether or not I was being sold girl power, did it really exist if women were fighting still for so much? The answer is obviously yes, if girl power did not exist, then feminism and fighting for equality would not exist. Rallies fighting for the right to planned parenthood in America would not exist, the suffragettes would not have fought for the right to vote (also funnily enough, mentioned in Mary Poppins one of my favourite movies growing up, but I never knew what that blondie was banging on about until I watched it when I was much older), I’ve been surrounded by it my whole life.
However, as I was insinuating earlier, brands and big companies have already caught on to feminism and girl power working for their marketing strategies long before I was even born. They know that women will lap up the #SquadGoals BS and advertise their products quite fondly if it’s standing for our political message. I don’t see anything wrong with someone wanting to wear a shirt that says Girl Power though if it’s a message that they truly do believe in. I think that it’s cool if you want to wear it to spread a message you’re fond of. I too, think that some of the feminist inspired shirts that I’ve seen in Topshop are really cool, even if a bunch of fourteen year olds told Cosmopolitan that they’re “basic.”
High fashion has never been shy of letting its models walk down the catwalk in a chiffon shirt that exposes the models nipples, actually it’s seen as being quite normal on the runway. However when #FreeTheNipple started to become a cause, it caused all sorts of controversy. People were blind to the fact that we were seeing the likes of Kendall Jenner walk a show with her nipples on full display, and so many people expressed outrage that women wanted to just, let their boobies out.
So I also think this is a point against what I’m trying to say, because despite high fashion having its claws firmly inserted into the exposing of nipples, people didn’t care that normal every day women wanted to get their boobs out.
Do I consider feminism in fashion to be true to feminism?
Well, yes. If the brand is genuinely trying to push the cause and make an actual stand then I don’t understand why you would suggest that it’s not “true” feminism. If someone wants to wear a Girl Power t-shirt because they want to show the world that they’re fighting for this cause, then how can it not be true feminism?
I see a lot of people out there insinuating that the girls who wear these shirts don’t actually give a damn about feminism. Don’t get me wrong, I personally do not wear these shirts because I just don’t want to, but I don’t think that someone who does is any less of a feminist than someone who doesn’t. I also don’t think there’s any right or wrong way to be a feminist so long as you’re fighting for equality and you want men and women to be on the same equal wave length as each other, and you’re not simply just man hating.
I think that feminism is not a fashion statement in the sense of it being a cause, but you can make it a fashion statement as well as a political statement if it’s going to benefit what all of these men and women have been fighting for.
In all honesty, fashion statement or not, I think it’s awesome that there are so many women out there who care about feminism right now and who are fighting for the rights of women all over the world, it’s awesome, and probably renders this thought pointless in a way, because in fashion or not, it’s making a positive change.
All of the stigma surrounding feminism kind of went away when fashion got its claws into the cause, before celebrities and brands were using their voices to support the cause the internet was full of trolls who found it blasphemous that feminists still existed in this day and age, they found it difficult to see a reason why we still need feminism today and it would result in lots of abuse and lots of memes.
I too, would condemn the idea of feminism and I used to roll my eyes whenever somebody would openly talk about it. However, fashion getting its claws into it and social media making the voices of hundreds of thousands of women able to be heard has united women in all of the best ways. Is feminism a fashion statement? Definitely, and we wear it with pride.