Are clothing conventions actually conventional?

Are clothing conventions actually conventional?


The way someone styles their clothing plays a large role in how they are viewed in society, especially in the context of first impressions. However, the definition of good style is subjective and often relies on gender norms and societal expectations. These expectations deem what is socially acceptable and can be limiting to how someone portrays themself. The stores selling these clothes – especially major corporations that produce popular clothing – don’t just adhere to these “guidelines” but rely on them for profits in the stead of ethics and consumer practicality.

Men’s fashion often faces a lack of style variation, which can limit self expression. This limitation acts as a way to conform men to how society expects them to present themselves: stoic, masculine, and simplistic. Society often judges men who dress outside of the societal norm for men’s clothing, which often implies homophobia. Men, like Harry Styles, who express themselves with femininity, especially through clothing, are often assumed to be gay despite their own contrasting statements about their sexuality.

In opposition, women’s fashion generally has more variety because of the visual interest that is expected of women’s clothing choices. This also supports the gender norms in our patriarchal society. “The Barbie Movie” puts a spotlight on women’s experiences in the 21st century. One of these moments is when Barbie breaks down and Gloria, played by America Ferrara, explains the unrealistic societal expectations of women.

“You’re supposed to stay pretty for men, but not so pretty that you tempt them too much or that you threaten other women because you’re supposed to be a part of the sisterhood,” Ferrera said. “But always stand out and always be grateful.”

That isn’t where it ends. Women’s fashion sacrifices practicality for visual interest, and this is largely due to the societal expectation that women prioritize appearance over personal convenience. Similarly in an article from the L.A. Times, a Burroughs High student said she was pulled out of an honors class because she wore a shirt with straps that were too thin during a 110 degree day.

Even athletic wear often lacks the support needed for the person wearing it. Not only that, there’s also a lot of judgment around women wearing athletic wear in public spaces. This is because the clothes that actually offer support or are comfortable are “too exposing” or “not appropriate”. During the French Open, tennis player Sabrina Williams competed after having complications while giving birth only 12 months before. She wore a fitted catsuit to a match that gave her additional support, but she was banned from wearing this, and a dress code was instilled because “One must respect the game and the place” according to French Tennis Federation President Bernard Giudicelli.

The oppressive societal expectations around clothing greatly contribute to how society judges a person. It is not only discriminatory, but it speaks to an immature and ignorant understanding of who we are as individuals. The clothing industry supports toxic ideals, and the suppliers demonstrate their desire for profit over progression through a lack of support for their consumers.



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