You might have seen a Facebook post featuring pictures of Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, along with the statement that “successful people wear the same thing every day”. Deciding which clothes to wear each day, they say, is “reducing productivity”, “a frivolity”, “a waste of time and energy”.
However, this statement also seems to suggest that fashion – which is commonly seen as a feminine field – is just a shallow distraction from other, more important matters. Many have also argued that the common perception of fashion as a trivial thing is problematic.
“I’ve tried wearing just jeans and a t-shirt to save time and be perceived as less superficial, but it makes me feel gray and boring. I love fashion and picking out a great outfit makes my day better,” said DoctorNettle in a Reddit thread.
“If uniform dressing gives you inner peace then that is wonderful, but I feel like writing fashion off as inherently superficial and time-wasting is rude and sexist.”
Writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie also shares this sentiment. “I had learned a lesson about Western culture: Women who wanted to be taken seriously were supposed to substantiate their seriousness with a studied indifference to appearance,” Adichie wrote in an ELLE article. Women, it seems, will not gain respect, recognition, and acknowledgment if they delve in fashion.
But fashion and style are far from shallow. Clothes are a necessity that not only protect you, but also communicate your culture and identity to the world.
Many women have fought back against this writing off of fashion, arguing that it is against gender equality ideals. “Women who love fashion are not inherently idiotic,” said Dodai Stewart of Jezebel. “[Fashion]’s self-expression, it’s loving to get dressed, to get dressed up; it’s realizing that your clothes can reflect your thoughts, your mood, your passions. And if someone’s passionate about clothes, isn’t labeling them shallow sort of superficial?”
Standing up for ‘womanly’ interests, like fashion, is a part of fight against sexist views. “I feel like this is just one of many examples of people writing off primarily feminine hobbies/interests as frivolous,” DoctorNettle said. “I mean no one would say that hobbies like video gaming or sports are frivolous, even though they probably consume as much time, energy, and money as an interest in fashion. LET WOMEN LIKE THINGS.”