Fashion beneficial to gender roles

Sophia Comas, Sports Editor

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As we have all clearly seen throughout the 21st century, the topic of gender and its role in society have long been debated and fought over. However, in that debate, we have discovered the piece of the puzzle that is now allowing for people everywhere to express their true selves.

We have discovered that sex and gender are not perfectly binary. Because it’s not, neither are certain industries that dominate our economy, specifically fashion.

The rise of androgynous fashion has given those who don’t identify with a specific gender an outlet of expression not seen before in previous decades. When I think about ‘50s fashion, I see men in suits and women in skirts. Now, when I think of fashion I see a wide variety of men and women wearing whatever clothing they want, whether a man chooses to wear a dress or a woman chooses to wear a tie.

My perspective on clothing changed since I was just a little kid thinking that girls couldn’t wear the color blue. Seeing a man in heels only amazes me now because I’m shocked at how anyone — regardless of gender — can walk in shoes that lift eight inches off the ground. It’s fashion trends like this that help describe the changes actress Emma Watson asked for in her speech at a “HeForShe” campaign in September of 2014 when she said, “It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum, not as two opposing sets of ideals.”

The gender spectrum is proving how we as a society are evolving into a new era of acceptance. The Civil Rights Movement hasn’t ended yet, as Manhattan High saw when the Westboro Baptist Church protested students and teachers of the LGBTQ+ community. However, with the growth of a new generation, America is reaching new levels of equality and expression, and it wouldn’t be possible without the fashion industry.

Even celebrities have opened up about using fashion to express themselves outside of gender normativity. For example, “Queen” frontman and songwriter Freddie Mercury, one of the first pioneers of androgynous fashion, broke all expectations of what a man should dress like. Decked in sequined body suits and heeled boots, Mercury stole the stage time and time again with not only his astounding vocals and catchy lyrics, but with a style that America had yet to embrace.

“I have fun with my clothes onstage,” Mercury once said. “It’s not a concert you’re seeing, it’s a fashion show.”

His fashion began a revolution in the world of clothing, along with other stars such as Prince and David Bowie. More recently within the realm of fashion, celebrities such as Jaden Smith and Ellen Degeneres have displayed styles that don’t conform to what we typically think certain genders have to wear. Degeneres herself even released her own collection with Walmart — called EV1 — saying the line was inspired by “inclusiveness.” She then goes on to say in an interview with Refinery29 that she “wanted it to appeal and be available to as many people as possible.”

Smith feels similar when it comes to his own clothing choices. In an interview with “Essence,” after receiving backlash for wearing a dress in 2015, he said, “I feel like people are kind of confused about gender norms… I don’t see man clothes and woman clothes, I just see scared people and comfortable people.”

His work along with countless others who use their platforms to influence our stance on gender prove how life is changing. Outlets such as fashion are contributing to the overall growth of humanity, and rather than question what we find abnormal, we should embrace it.

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