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Fashion Triviality


Whenever I feel that fashion is giving me a bad reputation I like to go back to some of my favorite quotes and the extremely intelligent women who tell it like it is. From Zooey Deschanel reminding everyone she can wear a peterpan collar and still be a feminist to longer, more poignant essays that really resonate with me. This one by Greta Christina is full of gems. She states, "fashion is one of the very few forms of expression in which women have more freedom than men. And I don’t think it’s an accident that it’s typically seen as shallow, trivial, and vain. It is the height of irony that women are valued for our looks, encouraged to make ourselves beautiful and ornamental...and are then derided as shallow and vain for doing so. And it’s a subtle but definite form of sexism to take one of the few forms of expression where women have more freedom, and treat it as a form of expression that’s inherently superficial and trivial. Like it or not, fashion and style are primarily a women’s art form. And I think it gets treated as trivial because women get treated as trivial."

The rub of course is: people (men and women) aren't going to stop thinking fashion is frivolous anytime soon. People will still ask "wow you bought another dress" or "what's the point of knowing the names of all those models, talk about useless trivia." So, what can you say when people start knocking your personal interest/hobby? My personal response to people questioning the value of fashion as an interest and/or hobby is to discover said person's own hobby. How much money does he/she spend every year on tickets to games, or even just hours glued to the television cheering excitedly for their team? In the uselessness of sports enthusiasm I find a passion for personal style far less silly...How do you respond when someone rolls their eyes at your interests?

*picture: Kinga Rajzak backstage at Miu Miu

11 comments:

NooshNoosh said...

I really appreciate your perspective and input on the subject matter. But personally, one of the things that I love about fashion and clothes is the fact that no matter how much I love it and get caught up in it, i can't take it too seriously. I don't like the idea of having to take fashion seriously and thats why I love it so much. Of course there is a lot of thought, decision making, and attention to detail with every great piece of clothing but at the end of the day its just something I wear that makes me feel more like me.

Julia Topaz said...

This brings up a lot of feelings in me.

I've spent so much time and energy fighting the stigma of superficiality that hangs like a growth on the entire field of fashion-- often overcompensating for it, I think, by being hyper-cerebral about my personal style or the fashion I like.

I think that, like you indicated in your post, it's such a deeply-rooted systemic problem that it's almost not worth justifying an interest in fashion or style to other people. It sucks to be pinned as superficial or unimportant (or "too feminine" if you're a dude), but the more we feel like we have to explain and justify ourselves to people who can't be bothered to be open-minded, the more conventionally gendered society wins :/

Until hobbies that are predominantly "for women" are valued or legitimized in the same way as others are for men, we'll have to continue to grin and bear it as acquaintances passive-aggressively imply that our hobbies and interests and passions are somehow less worthwhile or less 'real' than others. In the meantime, we can continue to advocate for the recognition of the value that we know is inherent in fashion and style. :)

Carolyn said...

Thank you so much for these quotes. Had I heard these quotes some years ago in high school- I think I might have actually followed my dream of going to school for fashion design- instead of letting all the things I don't like about fashion overrule all the things I do.

Nowdays - thinking of fashion as another form of art (like performance art) in which I'm actively engaging- helps me deal with its "triviality". Just like many people don't understand contempory art- they don't understand fashion, even if you try to explain it. But that doesn't mean it's not worthwhile or valuable.

MarieBayArea said...

I make no apologies for my love of clothes and fashion. I love your post. It's all so true.

MintJulep said...

I have given up on that, honestly. I have steered futher and further away from most of my long time friends, whose interests lie far beyond the "shallowness" of clothes and style and fashion. I don't even talk about that with them. It has sincerely made me feel the loneliest person in the world untill I decided to blog about it. I keep it to myself, really, as I feel surrounded in the real world by people who are just gonna look at me as if I was a brainless doll - much as they have done all my life, barr my husband who finds me quite inteligent and cultured. So I just keep my mouth shut with those people, really. And then I bitch about that on my blgo, eheheh.
http://fashionfauxpas-mintjulep.blogspot.pt/

Sora said...

Like many people commented here, and like I know many people do as well, I just decided to stop trying to explain myself and make my hobby look "less shallow" for the people who thought that way about me. You see, I don't think it's worth the energy to answer to them! Because, for starters, anything that helps you grow wiser and you enjoy doing is always going to be for the best; it's going to help you become the best version of yourself.

Tabet said...

Hey,
great pictures and a beautiful outfit.
I love this shoes.
If someone thinks he/she can roll their eyes on my interests I just let him do this and ignore it. It's my life and I like what I do.
Kisses
Tabea

http://wolkedrei.blogspot.de/

Orchid Grey said...

I always find it interesting that people choose to look down on an interest in fashion, or write fashion/style off as trivial. Presumably, we get dressed every day of our lives, society requires that we cover our bodies with clothes in some manner. If one lives to 80, maybe 90 years old, that's a lot of days to not care about your appearance.

Kristin said...

I agree with Orchid Grey-fashion is really one of the most practical hobbies you can have.

What I find interesting (although frustrating) is the irony of a double standard girls are held to-we're shallow and vain if we care too much about fashion, but heaven forbid we don't look attractive at the same time. I think the ideal image is someone who never spends much time in the bathroom getting ready or shopping, yet always looks fabulous-the whole "effortlessly beautiful" idea. Which is hardly a fair or logical expectation...

Kimberellie said...

I TOTALLY do the whole "insert their hobby here make subtle fun". I do that. I mean, yes, I spend a lot on my home/clothes/shopping. It's my hobby. But I don't spend money on vacations (3 thousand dollars for one WEEK of living? seriously...what a waste...j/k not always a waste...but it is what I said to my brother when he got on my case for spending 150 on Hunters & had just come back from Cuba! ha! He even went so far to suggest I buy regular gum boots and donate the other 120...pfftt..I won ;-).

But seriously, you are so right. And I ADORE that quote. Usually there is SOMETHING you can point out that the other person does is frivolous. 60 dollars a week on Starbucks? Hello! ;-)

You're awesome.

Samantha said...

I typically say: "I would rather spend $50 on a dress I can wear and get good use out of for a few years than $50 on eating out for one night." Around certain individuals I don't even bring up shopping or fashion, they just make the assumption that it's important to me because I dress nice and take the time to do my makeup everyday. However, it's only a hobby to me, not a life pursuit. I have many other hobbies that are more important to me than fashion, but some people can't look past their own assumptions or stereotypes.
My sentiments are much like yours. When it comes down to it, it's all about perspective-what one person values, another doesn't. Each person is entitled to pursue their own hobbies, and so long as this hobby is not causing harm to anyone else, whose business is it to call said hobby shallow?
Thank you for sharing this essay, it was a great read!