WARNING: IT IS NOT AN EASY POST TO READ, BUT I PROMISE IT WILL MAKE YOU CHALLENGE YOUR VALUES AND PERSPECTIVE ABOUT WHO YOU ARE AS A WOMAN.
I read a few weeks ago an awesome article in the Spanish El País newspaperwritten by Isabel Valdez and entitled "Does sexy fashion empower or reify?"
Obviously I don't want to turn the words of the writer into mine, but the reflections on the article - perhaps the best I have ever read about Feminism - lead me to conclusions that I have always defended in several different posts in my blog, while also focusing this way of thinking into several of my collections in recent years.
The question cannot be more relevant and fashion, as a social science, is obviously at the center of the whole debate:
– The way you dress, what you show, your sensuality, what you decide to do with your body: Can this tag you? Will this reify you?
We cannot only fall into linear arguments, nor be populist, nor defend a dogmatic point of view, because Feminist sensitivity and the different points of view on the issue are clearly complex and not all of them lack part of reason, even when these may seem opposite.
Undoubtedly, We are facing a growing sexualization of the woman's body, strongly driven by the massification of social networks or business marketing.
I will not say that we are at the highest historical level of hypersexualization - because throughout history there have been records of great sexualization of the female body since Ancient Egypt, Anatolia, the Modern Age, the Liberal Revolution, in the contemporary 60s and 80s (and in some moments also of the masculine - look for example all the Art of Ancient Greece).
But it is true that currently the female body is exposed constantly and massively, which is leading to some Feminist movements to indicate that this fact reifies women.
I find it curious that this same argument is very similar to those used by the conservative movements, those who normally defend that women have to cover up "to feel free" - in the end, these are not very different reasons to those argued by certain religious movements that, to prevent a man from "sin", it's better to restrain women's freedom of exposure.
Let me thus ask you the following: do you think it's also hypersexualization, when the one who's showing the body is a man?
But let's not restrict ourselves to immediate conclusions.
In an opposite perspective - when someone considers dressing sexy or showing the body is a form of female liberation - the debate and conclusions are not linear either.
As the sociologist Rosa Cobo or the philosopher Ana de Miguel pointed out, people can be convinced that freedom is in the “selection”, but What's so free about it, if all women “choose” to dress in the same way, have the same styles and seek to achieve the same bodies? When we all choose the same, that is not a symptom of freedom, but a sign of social pressure (either explicit or implicit).
Constantly, we choose without real knowledge ... As an example, when I was a teenager and with the little money I had, I was mainly choosing nightclubs where women didn't have to pay. Then I realized that I was not paying in those places because we, women, were the "product". So I stopped going to places with such policy, because that is not freedom or empowerment.
As I have always said, It is not an image that makes you look like an object.. It's not also your sensuality that's "reifying" you. And of course, we cannot tell any woman that being sexy will reify her or turn her into a victim ...
What does "reify" us then? There are two factors that do inhibit us and restrict our freedom as women:
On the one hand and obviously, it "reify" us the eyes of some ogre who was not taught to be a man, but a coward and a filthy human being. But this is an education issue that surpasses us all and only with time, and with perseverance, we will get society to treat us equally. Something we still have to keep fighting for. Clearly.
On the other hand, just like the fish eating its tail, we can end up inhibiting ourselves, for a much less obvious and not very intuitive factor that is affecting our entire generation ...
As the writer says Polly Vernon, in her book "Hot Feminist", she also grew up surrounded by images and the rise of supermodels, and although she admired them, she never felt anxious to become like those "fantastic women."
The same thing I observe in the generation of our mothers (in my studio, I often design dresses for ladies over 40/50/60 years old and obviously we talk about my dresses, jewelry, swimsuits, etc ...). Although they know how to admire what is beauty, in no case succumbed to the need to show off or appear "perfection" or a surreal beauty.
Two years ago, I designed "Idolatría" (it means Worship in Spanish), a collection to criticize an increasing social behavior: the absence of gods was supplanted by new divine figures that now move throughout social networks and media, as gods in the Olympus.
People, like you and me, but that society is worshipping massively with blows of "Likes" and compulsive stalking through the screen of a mobile.
People with their flaws and virtues, but with a series of technological devices able to make them appear with a surreal and standard beauty. And then, millions of girls imitating, exactly the same poses, the same angles, the same Instagram filters, making other women believe that, to be beautiful, to be fashionable, to be awesome, this is the beauty that we all have to seek.
This does reify women.
It is not at all about not wanting to be beautiful, not wanting to work our body or not trying to shine with the best version of ourselves. On the contrary, all this fits into a modern Feminism that allows us to be how we want to be.
This is, as I've already indicated in the title of my post, almost as a spoiler and intentionally: Accept the beauty of our diversity over any stereotype and without wanting to want to be someone's copy, beyond an improved version of oneself - All this with our sensuality, without complexes, which is part of us as women. All this, without the marketing, society or patriarchy telling us if we should repress or overexploit our sensuality.