There’s an article floating around Google+ that I haven’t had a chance to read yet – but the headline frames an interesting dilemma. It’s asking if young girls and young women are encouraged to follow fashion rather than focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) classes.
On the surface, I think this is a completely valid question. The lack of women in the sciences is pretty telling about the ways boys are encouraged toward those career paths. I think it’s also interesting, though, because, when we frame the discussion that way, we’re perpetuating the idea that self-representation, presentation, and self-expression are frivolous and distracting. Which… strikes me as a very second-wave notion in a lot of ways.
Presentation and the negotiation of that IS important. It seems counterproductive to rank the soft sciences like psychology and anthropology against hard sciences like robotics, and that’s not quite what we’re doing when we devalue attention to fashion – but it still feels a bit like that to me, as though squishy human things, especially “girly” things, just aren’t as important.
I kind of cringe when “feminine” gets tossed around in conversations because I think it conflates gender and gender stereotype. It’s used when we talk about assigned gender traits – like the way women are supposed to be mothering so nurturing is considered a feminine trait – as though men can’t nurture. But the specific paradoxical fascination with and loathing of paying attention to fashion seems not only anti-woman (of any variety) but specifically anti-FEMME.
Anti-femme culture (and feminists aren’t immune to this) thinks the effort put into femme presentation is a waste of time and energy – or, at the very least, time and energy that could have been spent doing something more important. Anti-femme culture thinks “pretty” probably means “dumb” even when struggling against a culture obsessed with an impossibly narrow beauty standard. Anti-femme culture thinks you can’t do math AND do your nails.
We are humans! We contain multitudes! I do not think it is a problem that teenaged girls are interested in experimenting with presentation via fashion; I think it’s ridiculous and misogynist that they are ONLY encouraged to do that – and that boys don’t have the same freedom of expression.
When I do these photo type projects, like this one where I’m documenting my work clothes and talking about business casual, I am keenly aware that I’m just not butch, y’all. But I am so hungry for butch representation in fat fashion circles. Even as I reluctantly identify as femme, I can’t deny my style, whatever it is, tends towards the performative and girly.
I can do that, magically enough, and still work in an industry that focuses on emerging technology. Other women (of all varieties) can do that! Men (of all varieties) can also do that! People who identify as any other gender can also do that! Because fashion is not just some frivolous way of frittering away time. The more time I spend thinking about it, the more political it becomes (and the more invested I wind up in being able to dress the way I want to dress).
Instead of belittling an interest in fashion, wouldn’t we be better off encouraging young women to start thinking critically about it? And that’s while we figure out ways to encourage them in STEM classes, too.
Life isn’t a zero sum game. You don’t have to trade an interest in clothes for a degree in computer science.
I ordered an eyeshadow from MAC’s recent Blogger’s Obsession collection – Jealousy Wakes by Christine from Temptalia.com. This is a lousy picture. It’s a glorious teal with subtle gold shimmer, which makes it different from the nine other teals I own. *grin* I’m also wearing a grey (Swell, Baby) from the recent Surf Baby collection. That’s it – it was uber simple.
I spent the weekend at the beach – my hair was still big and curly and beach hairish. And my streaks have gotten VERY BLOND. Which freaks me out a little bit! They are supposed to be blue!
I went into Torrid to look for boots – they didn’t have them in stock and I wound up buying a new dress instead. I’m kind of madly in love with it.
This is a size 22, which is actually kind of odd. I’ve been wearing a 3 in their dresses, so I guess it shouldn’t surprise me as much as it does. I tried it on mostly to get a sense of what size I should order… and then it worked perfectly.
I’m wearing this with fishnets from Avenue. I stockpiled these all winter when they were available and it’s paying off now – because I can’t find them to fit me anywhere. I’m also wearing slouchy grey boots from Target.
Sometimes we get very used to seeing ourselves from certain angles so I wanted to include this shot from the side. While I often seem very hourglassy from the front, my belly sticks out and I have a rolly little back because my ass sits up high. All of that is okay. It’s just my body and it’s what it does.
This dress is currently at Torrid! The tights and the shoes are not available but this dress, y’all. I really want a million people to buy it so Torrid gets the hint and styles more things like this.
What are you wearing today?
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