The practically and need associated with fashion trends changing with seasonal change has become lost in the chaos of consumerism. Either that, or the process of deciding what is and what isn’t appropriate for cold weather, has become very complex for the human species. A decade ago, clothes suitable for cold weather would hit all major stores before we actually transitioned to cold weather. The rush by stores to have all new-season clothing ready for customers was accompanied by rampant advertising to remind people that their wardrobes required changing, once again. However, consumerism’s push a side, clothes were, to a large part, appropriate for the weather change.
In 2011 however, and with winter that just passed, we’ve “progressed” to a new era in fashion. Clothes no longer clothe, with women being the primary target. Advertisements mock human intelligence with models wearing coats without pants, jumpers with shorts. One Supre ad on a bus read “jeggings” with the picture of a girl in only jean-leggings, her arms across her bare chest.
Tops and dresses have random patches of fabric missing in any number of areas. To clothe is to cover, so what are we to call these new apparels? Modesty and morality aside, what practical purpose is such clothes serving, if not to keep one warm? Importantly, that clothes are progressively more and more revealing says what about the people of prior generations? That they were unfashionable, backward, covered unnecessarily? Or maybe the human species have evolved and we now have thicker skin.
Whilst our society, through TV, magazines and other forms of media glamorise women who reveal – the more the better – the same courtesy is not given to women who choose to cover up, such as Muslim women.
On the spectrum of disapproval that Muslim women receive, they are judged for choosing to cover up, are told they are repressed, and at times are recipient to open hostility. Furthermore, they have no say about those women who invade their social space with clothes that leave little to the imagination. Both Muslim and non-Muslim women have told me they are made to feel uncomfortable by women who dress inappropriately. However, our society does not recognise this objection.
Not only are Muslim women to remain silent about the unfortunate way many women dress, they are made to swallow negative comments about the way they dress. Why do we, preachers of freedom and democracy, have such double standards?
We are bombarded with the message to be fashion-conscious. However, being too fashion-conscious can come at the cost of one’s ability to think. We’re taught to lose sight of the fact that we’re more than mere animals, which live by their basic drives for survival, food, water, shelter, sleep and procreation. That we have free-will and the ability to make choices.
With this, we also lose sight of the bigger picture behind consumerism, such as materialism, capitalism and secularism, which make up the impetus behind the fashion industry. Materialism teaches us to be focused on the material, on the here-and-now. “We only live once”, we’re told. Capitalism pushes us to continue to consume, regardless of our actual need, “would you like to upsize your meal?” We’re asked. Secularism teaches us to separate religious ideology from our daily lives. “Who needs religion when we have science and technology?” We’re constantly reminded.
At a time when we’re apparently at the peak of technology and science, the fashion industry is not meeting its simple obligation of clothing women. At a basic level, being fashionable is costing women their comfort and warmth in cold weather. At a higher level, it’s stripping women of their rights for dignity and respect as individuals, as members of society rather than as sex objects or a means for trade. If lack of clothing was positively correlated with level of progress and superiority, animals should be at the top of the hierarchy.
However, there is hope for us. Fortunately and thankfully, we’re neither born stupid nor meant to be stupid. So let us put our brains to use. Let us question rather than accept blindly. Let us lead rather than follow. Let us take the power that we as individuals of a democratic society have and work towards positive change, for the good of ourselves and our fellow citizens.