Fashion + Feminism

Society, Fashion Industry and A Woman’s Worth

What is the women’s worth in this world? What are our strengths and what our weaknesses? What can we give to make this world a better place? These and more questions, are being asked by the modern woman of today, since we have been allowed to consider the freedom of these questions, beginning only a few decades ago.

I was born in the 1980s, a time in which women have been voting for a few decades and have gone out working instead of being confined to their homes. It was only the beginning and most women, such as my mother, were still expected to stay at home and run the household.

Even though women’s rights had been revolutionised, the image of a “good woman” was still very much alive and expectations within a certain mindset. The outer appearance of women has always been, since time immemorial, the single most important aspect of her existence.

This includes her physical looks as well as how she is supposed to conduct herself in the community and throughout her life. The latter aspect, has been changing rapidly and women have been seen to rise from the old stories to create a new version of what, women can, and should be allowed to, be.

Growing up in the 80s and 90s

Already at primary school age, among my peers it was clear that not being thin is something to be laughed at and made fun of. I wasn’t the skinniest of girls as a child but really only had a little bit more flesh on my bones than the skinny ideal.

By the time I was 10 I was completely self-conscious about my appearance, before it even began to change into a woman’s body. Without any active choices of my own, I began to lose weight with puberty and in reality joined the ‘skinny club’, simply by growing.

My inner reality was different, however, because I already had been negatively programmed. The 90s were full of skinny, ‘big boobed’ girls being shown all over TV, from MTV, to the popular teen magazines of the time. I never grew a big chest and it became yet another thing that made me less desirable.

I remember pretending to be bulimic, because many girls around me were speaking openly about eating disorders, like it was a fashionable disease that you’ve ‘simply got to have’.

Susan Albers, Psy.D., told the Huffington Post that “although thin models are not the cause of eating disorders, they can be a trigger or a factor in maintaining an eating disorder

Luckily I never really did suffer from bulimia, but instead had an almost constant nervous stomach, resulting in the loss of appetite and me simply eating tiny amounts. Now, 20 years later, I know that I was experiencing the first symptoms of anxiety of my life.

Just an Average Girl

A particular beauty ideal is one thing the media teaches us and the ‘being desired’ is another ideal we are programmed to believe is the ultimate aspiration of each girl and then woman.

Generations of women were made to believe that her worth is determined by what match she can make and the 20th and early 21st century mind of a woman hasn’t changed a lot in this regard. I grew up knowing I can get education and follow a career path, but the media didn’t stop making desirability one of the top priorities of a female.

So while the modern woman is pursuing her dreams and ambitions outside of a partnership, she will still be valued and judged based on her appearance and indeed her marital status.

Transformation, Finding my Worth as a Woman

I learned that these stereotypes are misguided. Rationally, I knew that beauty comes in many shapes and that marriage is not essential to have a fulfilled life. I had choices. But talents and ambitions were still not something that I made my priority.

By the time I reached my mid 20s I was seeking stability in form of a steady relationship. I was not confident enough to believe in being able to build an independent life before I choose a suitable partner. I was pretty enough and didn’t lack admirers. I didn’t actively think that way then, but I am now convinced that generations of programming, and the modern day fashion industry, made me instinctively act upon such stereotypical female behaviour.

I married soon and even though the relationship was far from an ideal and happy one, we had 2 children together, while the marriage was going downhill. It is in the process of an unhappy marriage, resulting in separation, that I began to question my entire being as a woman in this world.

All the things I knew in my rational mind, began to take seed and manifest themselves in my heart and entire being. I began to learn the power of female intuition and the guiding force that can give birth to unthinkable greatness. I experienced a strength in me, undiscovered before.

For the first time in my life I tuned in to my body and soul and realised that anxiety was accompanying me throughout my life and I wasn’t even aware of it. It was time to rid myself of such programming and while I am proud to say that I found this path and by changing my mindset, I am very aware of the circumstances that have allowed such thoughts to freely develop in my mind.

A New World for Women and Fashion

The modern fashion industry has finally begun to embrace a healthier body image. The use of super skinny models is now much criticised and brands are now purposely using a variety of body shapes to showcase their pieces.

The role of a general shift in perspective and the media adopting it, has allowed new thoughts to take hold in our minds and we can begin to undo the damage that previous programming has done to our confidence and value of ourselves.

Women are beginning to redefine themselves in an entirely new way. We are not only seeking equality between men and women. We are also looking for our innate qualities, that make us unique. The ones that give us a special power to contribute to our world in a way that is not led by a male perception of the world, but one that comes from the depths of our feminine being.

Women are awakening to a new reality, in which they are allowed to be more than an ideal imposed upon them. In essence, women are now beginning to take charge of what is considered beautiful. This is how I am experiencing it within me. A strength arising from within myself, in a time and place that is making it possible for me, and many other women, to harness it and reinvent the concept of beauty.

 

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