What do my clothes say about me?

By Joanne C

I prefer to wear t-shirts. I’ve worn Converse sneakers since 6th grade –  that was ten years ago. I don’t know how to do my make up; I don’t even own blush. My ‘style’ makes me feel comfortable…

Until I have to be taken seriously. I understand that I can look like a kid or a slob. I sort of get that when you’re careful about what you wear, it gives others the impression that maybe you’re careful about your work and your thoughts.

But I’m not sold on the idea. I don’t think my appearance – my clothes, my skin, my hair – should be the selling point for my ideas. Can’t my thoughts and opinions be enough to stand on their own? Why do they need conservative skirts and blazers? Why do I feel the need to wear a mini skirt and uncomfortable shoes to feel cool around peers? I have the best times when I’m talking to people; not when I’m walking down a figurative runway. And my words certainly don’t change whether I’m wearing a sweatshirt or a skin-tight top.

I’m no sociologist, but I think I have this image problem because of the way I grew up surrounded by American media. I mean, shaving leg hair hasn’t been a thing in this country for very long, but from the commercials I see, there’s like, no way I could ever get a boyfriend if I have leg stubble. And from the TV I’ve watched, I have to have a boyfriend, which means I must keep my legs clean-shaven!

Do you see where I’m going? There’s no one company or TV show we can blame for the obnoxious thought-patterns that have been ingrained into our brains, and there won’t be one silver bullet to solving the country’s body image problems. I think it will take years of telling ourselves that the sexualization and white-washing of females by the media is plain stupid and manipulative. Years of telling ourselves that it’s okay if I don’t shave my legs, and that it’s okay if I do. Years of telling ourselves that our frumpy t-shirts are acceptable clothing, and who even cares what is and isn’t acceptable. We can do this through public campaigns, along the lines of Dove’s self-esteem boosting commercials (though, those in themselves are flawed and manipulative. They are still selling a product, first and foremost), and youth-serving organizations that empower and build confidence.

We can also do this by telling the media that we don’t want its asinine sales tactics anymore. We can write letters to movie directors – requests for awesome female leads disguised as fan mail. We can send those subscription inserts to magazines with notes on them about how gross their ads are or how we want to see photos that aren’t photoshopped. We can stop spending our money on the things that enable sexualization of females, and spend it instead on things that promote the thoughts and general brain power emanating from our bodies. We can support kickstarters for cool, non-gendered toys, so that girls don’t have to be confined to pink princesses during playtime, nor boys limited to GI Joes. Much of this country revolves around money, so if we commit to spending our power as consumers on things that buck the gender binary and sexualized gender roles, then maybe the big companies will get the picture. And maybe they’ll change their tactics, and maybe one day, we’ll have a generation of people who aren’t confined by insecurities of gender or who haven’t been taught to discriminate. We’ll just all be people.

-Joanne Conelley
Day of the Girl-US Co-Coordinator

This blog is part of a many-month long campaign spearheaded by the Brave Girls Alliance. We want to take over Times Square by October 11th, the Day of the Girl, to speak out against the sexualization plastered over those billboards on the daily. For more information and to donate to the campaign, visit the Indiegogo: Brave Girls Invade Times Square.


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