When it comes to getting dressed in the morning, a battle always ensues between me and my closet. I end up angry at myself for buying such an awful wardrobe or screaming at the mirror for not making me look the way I want. There’s usually a few shirts that “are so last year,” and another couple pieces that I wore last week (socially unacceptable). But why does it matter so much what we wear? It matters because we are told that it should matter.
Obviously what you wear is important. It is basically a first impression, your way of saying “Hello world, this is me.” You wouldn’t be caught dead walking into a job interview in jeans and a sweatshirt. Your personal style is a representation of who you are too, or even sometimes who you want to be. Feeling grunge? Great, pull on a pair of combat boots. Want to go for a more girly look today? Your pretty lace dress is calling your name. The choice should be that easy, but it won’t be until we start placing the focus of fashion on ourselves.
Currently, we live in a critical culture that constantly makes us question our self-image. Various women’s magazines and shows such as Fashion Police are devoted to analyzing celebrities’ images from head to toe. One day, what they wear makes them look anorexic and the next they look about 500 pounds heavier. It breaks news when a star steps out in sweats on a standard run to the grocery store. When America’s sweethearts Taylor Swift or Jennifer Lawrence try a fashion-forward look, they are either applauded for taking a risk or criticized for trying to be someone they aren’t. We may not be on the same scale of public scrutiny as these celebrities, but we are still used to dealing with similar judgements daily that keep us from being 100 percent confident.
Does What a Man Thinks of What We Wear Really Matter?
I’d like to say that when I’m picking out an outfit to go out, I’m only thinking about myself. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Women constantly worry that a particular outfit will send the wrong message.
For instance, when I pull on a crop top, I’m immediately self-conscious about my exposed stomach. My mind flickers to where I’ll be going that night and how I need to get there. If it involves walking a few blocks down a dark-lit street, or taking a ride on the light rail, I’ll most likely opt for a less revealing top.
I may have a killer red dress that hugs me in all the right places and I’d love to debut, but it rarely leaves the closet because there isn’t an occasion I feel comfortable enough wearing it to. The way I dress should be about how it makes me feel, not how it makes some men feel, but it’s not.
Women are taught to be self-conscious of how they will be perceived, and who might perceive them in the wrong way. Every day we are met with cat calls and creepy compliments that leave us feeling violated and uncomfortable.
Some of these men say we should be flattered to be “admired” and “noticed” for what our mama’s gave us. Others say we shouldn’t wear it if it’s going to receive such unwanted attention. Both arguments play into our rape culture, which is quick to blame the women for dressing in a sexually suggestive way, rather than blaming the man who committed such a horrible crime. Not all men make us feel this way, but all women do feel this way.
While part of this problem won’t be solved until those specific men stop looking at us as pieces of meat, we can at least start to respect ourselves more too in the process. We might not be able to change what others see, but we can change what we see. When women look in the mirror, we should only see ourselves, not the men who stare us up and down. Yet we are quicker to analyze every inch of our bodies based on how someone else might look at it than we are to compliment our great legs or feminine curves.
We are quick to judge other women for their outfit being too revealing or too frumpy. This needs to stop. Fashion is meant to display confidence and comfort. It’s unfair that we have to feel the need to cover up for something as innocent as walking to the grocery store. It’s also unfair that we feel anxious whenever a group of girls is whispering or laughing in our direction because we are so used to criticism. Our worst enemy of all, though, is ourself. Why let some creep dictate your wardrobe or some jealous comment ruin your day? The world is your runway, so strut your stuff.