Friday, September 07, 2007

Clothing the Younger Set

I like to shop at Ann Taylor. I like their sensible, classic lines, coordinating colors, and built in professionality. I shop there a lot. I shop there, because, even though they lean toward the expensive end of the spectrum, unlike other clothing stores aimed at my age group, they don't sell anything that would make me look like a tramp.

Reading Emily Yoffe's adventures in back-to-school shopping for her eleven-year-old daughter, I had to pause for a moment and think. Is it really so hard to clothe younger women without degrading their appearance?

This morning on the way to work, Nate asked me what I thought about women who dress provocatively. This was prompted by my (admittedly biased) observation of a woman passing us, wearing black platform heels, a black-miniskirt, white bustier with a black bolero sweater and thick red beads bouncing over her assets: "That's a skanky office outfit." (She was carrying a briefcase, so I'm assuming she was going to an office.)

So Nate asked, what do I think of women who dress like that. My answer is complicated. As a feminist, I think a woman should wear whatever the hell she wants to. Personally, if I were allowed, I'd wear nothing but yoga pant and loose smocks. But then, if you're going out into the professional world, you should look like a professional. Wearing a bustier and mini-skirt makes you look like a different professional.

And personally, I feel that the woman who dresses "that way," with butt cheeks showing and breasts squeezing out of her neckline--it's bad press. For anyone who looks at this woman, she is instantly reduced to her body parts: tits and ass. She's a reminder that society associates women more with their sexual organs than their brains.

I support every woman's right to wear what she wants, but I dislike when women represent themselves as a sexual buffet. Why do women dress this way? Because it's trendy? When will it become trendy to be seen for what's inside instead of the outer wrapping.

Updated:

Please see Vanessa's comments below... which also link to this interesting take on the issue from last year.

5 responses:

Vanessa said...

I feel the same way. The issue of skankily dressed primary school-aged girls was taken up in Macleans' (a Canadian political/current events magazine) last January... I discussed it in brief here if you're interested: http://seekingstasis.blogspot.com/2006/12/i-have-managed-to-survive-worst-of.html

Also in the same issue of the mag (which I wish I had been able to keep) there was an article saying that historically girls have been dressed like women. It's only in 18th/19th Century with the Romantic movement that girl's hemlines went up to their knees and such... so it was saying that if women are dressing overtly sexually then it follows that little girls will.

I think it's tough. As a feminist, I think women should be free to wear whatever. That some wear mini-skirts and bustiers is proof that they can... unfortunately we're not in a perfect world, so if one chooses to dress like that, she'll have to deal with the attention. Maybe she feels it's empowering?

mice said...

Personally, I do like it when women dress like as we say Da hoochies.

I don't like it for the reason that you think I like it. These gals do not appeal to me. I am not turned on by the lack of decorum and good taste.

I do think it is outlandish and funny. Same as I enjoy seeing the dudes whose pants are falling down and their baseball cap somehow can't be put on straight for some unknown reason.

People watching is one of my last remaining joys.

Now if the person is related to me, that is not funny in the least.

ccroceiii said...

Calla;

I can only assume your diet is going well, otherwise your posting would be anger and outrage at a woman making an object of herself.

I wish I could wear clothing that would make women look at me like men look at women who are dressed as you described. (Nice run-on sentence, huh?) If a man tried to pull off what your gender does daily, we would only attract scorn... or be given directions to the nearest gay pride parade.

Calla said...

Charles, I think you missed some of what I wrote; I *do* object to a woman making an object of herself, but I support her right to do so. It infuriates me, but if I'm going to support free speech, I must support it in all its low-ridered glory.

WorkingDefinition said...

Ain't that the bitch. Like the ACLU or the 2nd Amendment... you can't selectively enforce, or can you? Have we fallen into false purity traps?


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