Social Butterfly
1BB34097-F786-44E7-9A1A-E8A05C0914DBCreated with sketchtool.
BurgerCreated with Sketch.
Social Butterfly
1BB34097-F786-44E7-9A1A-E8A05C0914DBCreated with sketchtool.
BurgerCreated with Sketch.
Social Butterfly
ic-spinnerCreated with Sketch.
Everyone has a story to tell
Find the best stories to read and people to follow. Get inspired and start writing great stories yourself or with your friends. Share and let the world know.

For feminist fashionistas, has modesty become the best policy?

Want to be a co-author?
Request co-authorship ▸

When it comes to gender politics within the fashion industry, equality is only as deep as the pockets on your average pair of skinny jeans. Designers continue to break down barriers dictated by the gender binary. However, the persistent pocket disparity — men's apparel features many spacious compartments, while most women's styles don't have any at all — demonstrates that when creating women's clothing, form still outweighs function, highlighting the latent sexism that remains.

However, as the decade wears on, one specific trend has begun to emerge, indicating that women might be hoping to reclaim comfort and promote feminism simultaneously.

According to The New York Times' recent feature, modesty has made its triumphant return. Vanessa Friedman writes that long sleeves and ankle-length hemlines now dominate the industry because, as we move into the last years of this decade, fashion now serves as the surrogate for our social and political discontent. Friedman explains that "clothes are an integral part of the debate over the freedom to make your own choices — whether about what you do with your body or who touches your body or what you put on your body." Clothing still acts as an alternative mouthpiece, much like it has throughout history, except its message has changed dramatically thanks to the current state of affairs.

Lucie Greene, worldwide director of the innovation group at J. Walter Thompson, tells Friedman that the emerging trends exist in an effort to “reject the strictures of the male gaze.” While women once saw plunging necklines and transparent fabrics as vessels for embracing their sexuality, they've come to recognize that such styles ultimately put them on display in ways that contradict their underlying intentions.

“They are not about what men want anymore, but about what women want," Greene adds. After years of embracing styles spawned by the male libido, women are opting for clothes that cater to comfort and security. Because, while comfort supports increased confidence, security provides strength in an era where women are still perceived as weak and inferior.

By gravitating toward modest styles, women are taking their bodies back. From Hillary Clinton's symbolic suffragette white pantsuits, to the pussycat hats of the Women's March on Washington, women's clothing needs no comment for these choices speak for themselves. Fashion statements abound, but not in the ways we've come to expect. Instead of waiting for the next red carpet blunder or wardrobe malfunction, women now feel both fashionable and comfortable as they trade their crop tops for button downs.

As Michael Kors, the esteemed designer, told The New York Times, he's "convinced that there is something far more alluring about women wearing things that give them confidence, that don’t make them feel as if they have to tug at their hemlines or yank at their straps.”

While some women dress to impress men, and others dress to impress their female peers, many now focus solely on dressing for their own benefit. They've replaced their high heels with ballet flats because they regain balance both literally and figuratively when they're on solid ground. They've traded their mini dresses for pencil skirts because they no longer feel they must flaunt their sexuality in order to command their femininity. Of course, while no woman should feel compelled to conceal her body because she fears the advances of predatory men, modest styles promise to empower women to be who they are, not who others wish them to be.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Amy Schumer's beach body isn't up for discussion

Want to be a co-author?
Request co-authorship ▸

Body shamers typically emerge from their turtlenecks around this time of year. They shed their down parkas and fur-lined boots just in time to judge those who feel comfortable in their own skin. Dana Duggan, swimsuit designer for South Shore Swimwear, started the season off with a splash when she decided to attack Amy Schumer's recent swim-inspired InStyle magazine spread. Duggan took to the publication's Instagram account to publicly voice her ugly opinion regarding May's "beauty issue" cover model.

"Come on now! You could not find anyone better for this cover? Not everyone should be in a swimsuit," Duggan wrote under the guise of her swimwear brand, no less.

Schumer appears on the cover wearing a white, one-piece Ralph Lauren swimsuit, and it's not hard to see that she's looking her best and loving her life from that image alone. Duggan's comment, however, contradicts the issue's overall message by fixating on the fact that Schumer—like most American women—isn't your average model. Many followers responded by reminding Duggan that Schumer's a real woman with a real body, and that bodies of all shapes and sizes are beautiful in their own way. Unlike traditional models, Schumer represents the everywoman, and that's refreshing to see in today's sea of size 2s. Her confidence demonstrates that women don't have to be stick-thin to be gorgeous. She's beautiful without feeling the need to conform to society's preconceived notions of perfection.

While Duggan went on to defend her claims that Schumer looks "like a pig" by citing the first amendment, she also told The Huffington Post that she's "tired of the media and publications trying to push the FAT agenda. It’s not healthy and it’s not pretty. What is wrong with featuring healthy and fit cover models?”

But it's in that statement alone that she proves her opinions are motivated by nothing more than pure ignorance. She cannot assess Schumer's health from this or any image, and she cannot claim this cover supports the so-called "fat" agenda when Schumer's size 6-8 frame doesn't even come close to the average American woman's dress size. (Hint: It's 16.) We've cultivated an acidic attitude toward female body image that's permeated our society to its core.

Many believe women should maintain an unattainable visual aesthetic in order to satisfy the public's gaze. Even though much has changed in recent years, such societal pressures still remain.

Luckily, thanks to magazine covers and other such public displays of defiance, we now see images that reinforce the idea that beauty isn't only skin deep. We now praise women for their actions, not their appearance. And those who still face judgment over their looks no longer back down in the face of criticism. Instead, they stand up for themselves and for others in an effort to command the respect they deserve.

True beauty lies with our diversity, but we are still too stuck on conformity to recognize the best of what's before us. Perhaps, if we're constantly confronted with cover models that look more like Schumer, we will finally come to see and accept the beauty already in our midst.

You've read the story folder
Story cover
written by
Writer avatar
annapapachristos
Keepin' it short since 1987.