Feminism and fashion had always made for an uncomfortable mix. That said, women have always played a role in fashion. Designers, editors, photographers, models, have always been “acceptable” occupations for women. Yet, even Anna Wintour, the most powerful person in fashion, is not the the CEO of Condé Nast. Charles Townsend is.
It wasn't until blogging was invented that women had the final word in steering the conversation about fashion. Bloggers have shed light on overlooked topics like the developing plus size community for one, and the accessibility of fashion for another. As bloggers, we have the power to put our own images out there, write our own commentary and share it with our own audience. We can call the shots on our own careers and become whatever we wish to work towards.
That's pretty amazing, no?
We have the opportunity to direct the conversation about the image of women in the media, because we're creating those images. Which is why, now more than ever, we need feminist principles to make sure we don't waste this opportunity.
I'm going to go out on a limb here, but in my life of 38 years, I've never been more keenly aware of feminism as the last 18 months. Perhaps it's because I'm about to have a baby, and perhaps it's because I own a business. Perhaps it's because women like Marissa Meyer and Sheryl Sandberg are making the news with their success, because India's problems with gender inequality and rape are coming to a head, because CNN showed compassion for the rapists rather than the victim in Steubenville, or that Samsung launches their phones showing women more concerned about wet nails than new technology, or that women at tech conferences can get fired for outing inappropriate jokers, or the New York Times T magazine editor declares the end of “slut clothes” to promote an article about the “modesty trend.” The list goes on, and on.
It appears that we as a society have not yet resolved our collective issues about successful women, women who stand up for themselves, or even that pesky binary classification system of female archetypes.
So what's this have to do with blogging?
This morning on Twitter, a series of tweets from the Lucky FABB conference exploded when Kelly Osborne stated:
— Lizza Monet Morales (@xoxoLizza) April 4, 2013
Sure, she was recounting advice from her mother, and was talking about show business. Jugging from the tweets, she had a lot of nice things to say about supporting other bloggers. However, the soundbite took off, and no one seemed to have a problem with this piece of advice, even if it might be in jest. But the signifies a very real problem that women who want to achieve success face:
Do you want to get ahead by pleasing others and being called a whore, or by getting things done and being called a bitch?
Sheryl Sandberg addresses this in her book, Lean In, “‘She is very ambitious' is not a complement in our culture. Aggressive and hard-charging women violate unwritten rules about acceptable social conduct… Female accomplishments come at a cost.” A cost which Sandberg paid by enduring a firestorm of criticism when publishing this book (which was very good, by the way.) Osborne noted ambition and achievement's costs were being at the very least labeled a bitch or a whore, if not actually meaning it.
“‘She is very ambitious' is not a complement in our culture. Aggressive and hard-charging women violate unwritten rules about acceptable social conduct… Female accomplishments come at a cost.”~Sheryl Sandberg
The thing is, we see it all the time in our community. Successful bloggers endure criticism, anger and jealousy from our own community… sometimes justified, often times not. We shy away from business because we're afraid to negotiate, or afraid of being seen as to “business minded.” We hide our desires to achieve great things with our hard work by declaring any success as just “luck.” We put up a facade of glitter and cupcakes, when in reality, there is so much more going on behind the scenes.
Maybe it's just me, but perpetuating stereotypical archetypes, tearing down other bloggers, shying away from achieving, and not owning success are very much feminist issues, issues we have the power to change. We have the power to shape our own images and our own futures.
The feminists before us made it possible for us to choose a career, and to shape our own lives. They've built up a wealth of theory and pointed out issues and injustices in our culture. It would be a shame not to adapt principles of equality, achievement and success into an industry we've worked so hard to build.
[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]