Recently a male friend of mine thought it would be helpful to point out that I don’t wear the best clothes to show off my body. Although I whipped out my most scathing look, he wasn’t fazed. When I asked him what he would dress me in, he went on to surprise me with the radical idea that I wear skinny jeans, high heels and vest tops. He seemed to think that telling me that I have a nice body would make me feel complimented. Erm…no. Firstly, it showed a complete lack of imagination. Quelle surprise, a man suggesting that a woman wear tight and revealing clothing! Secondly, as flattering (albeit creepy) as that compliment may seem, it reinforces the false idea that some bodies are ‘better’ than others.
In our society, conflicting expectations demand that women dress in a ‘flattering’ way without baring too much flesh and being judged negatively as a ‘slut’. (While I’m on the subject, how is it still such a trend that men are applauded for being promiscuous but women are scorned?) The irony of this particular boy telling me what I should be wearing should not be understated; he had just finished telling me about how this area is full of slags who wear too much make up and not enough clothes! So we see that women are criticised no matter how they dress; certainly the virgin/whore dichotomy still exists in some people’s eyes, stereotyping women and condemning both extreme ends of the dichotomy as either too frigid or too promiscuous.
The great thing about modern women’s fashion is that there is so much choice. Clothing can be a wonderful means of self-expression and creativity; how sad to reduce that into categories of what is flattering and what isn’t, which body shape should wear which type of jeans, and the supposed relation between your hemline and your sexual availability. Why should people search for clothes based on what is flattering or socially acceptable? That’s what is so brilliant about the Gisela Ramirez ‘F*uck Flattering’ shirt pictured above. People shouldn’t have to justify their clothing choices or compare themselves to the airbrushed twiglets that the media bombards them with. Fuck flattering. Everyone should be able to wear whatever the hell makes them feel good. (It sounds obvious ‘cause it is.)
By Nicola Ball