So last year I was at Big's family Thanksgiving celebration. His sister is married to a man we'll call "Jake". Jake is that special kind of person who believes that his world view is the only correct one and if only you would agree to listen to his umpteen reasons, he is sure you'll come around. I was sitting on the couch waiting to be called into service and happened to pick up a magazine on the coffee table, it happened to be a fashion magazine. I don't remember who was on the cover, or even what magazine it was all I remember is hearing this: "You really shouldn't read that, those kinds of magazines are why women are still so far behind where they should be. Women should be worried about how to get ahead, how to be good citizens or do something more useful than wear lipstick."
I'll let the moaning subside before I continue. Yeah he actually said that. I know. I wish I could tell you that I had a witty response, that I somehow proved him wrong but I was so taken aback by the utter stupidity of his assumptions and the fact that this was my first thanksgiving with my boyfriends family that I was left speechless. Jake's assumptions are nothing new to us, many people believe that if you read Vougue or Elle or any fashion magazine you someone have missed the mark of social awareness, somehow you aren't "present".
I vehemently diagree, but I didn't always. When I was a teenager I was so convinced that I wasn't one of "them", you know the girls who could braid their own hair, wear perfect make-up and were always color coordinated? Yeah that wasn't me, I was the frumpy jeans and t-shirt kid who helped with homeless shelters, Green Peace pettitions and Drama club. My mother was always on me to brush my hair, fix my face or stand up straight. I still haven't mastered the last one, but getting primped to me at the time always felt fake, this is what I look like, don't like it? Don't look. It was my way of protecting myself against ridicule. I thought "those people" were vapid, useless to society, and couldn't possibly have anything in common with me.
As I grew older and wiser, I realized that "those people" were just people like me, with their own hopes and dreams, their own causes and natures. The truth is I've always been intrigued by fashion and beauty but I felt like that world didn't belong to me, because no one in the pictures or movies or television shows looked like me, like none of those things were for me. It wasn't until I began to know and understand who I was and became more comfortable with that person, that I began to embrace fashion as a series of choices, as an art and past time.
Fashion has helped me develop into a more confident, well rounded and aware person. Vogue does have spreads on the newest runway trends, but more importantly they run issues on women who take time from their lives as writers, politicians, and photographers who go to Africa to teach, or help Afghani women build businesses, or cover female soliders in combat zones. Fashion encompasses those things in which we live our lives, it is inspired by us, it is art reflecting the most intriguing parts of reality. It truly is one of the most freeing forms of art, it allows us to express very personal and meanigful statements in a social acceptable way. No one should feel censored in their fashion which for many of us, is a big part of how we communicate to the outside world without ever speaking a word. Not everyone can be a great orator, not everyone chooses to make statements in the form of speeches or even blogs, some of us literally wear our convictions on our sleeves and that is just fine.
So to all the "Jake"s of the world you've been corrected, this is our declaration of independence:
As women we are strong in our feminininty
we are intelligent and fashionable
we are amazing and beautiful complex creatures
we declare independence from outdated and outmoded thinking
we demand the respect and courtesy we are due
We stand together, and will defend every woman's right to dress, feel and speak in a way which she feels best demonstrates her uniqueness.
This day and everyday we celebrate our independence.
Until later my lovelies,
HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!