Tagged: fashion-forward with a twist

This is what this feminist looks like

[Author’s note: this post was originally drafted two days ago.  Since then similar topics have been explored by Deborah and Maia has posted further on her thoughts on this issue.]

You know, I think Maia had one tiny point in amongst the letting us all know that blogging about cupcakes is Diluting The Great Feminist Message.

Posting something frivolous to a feminist group or blog does imply/assume that thing is feminist or should be treated as a feminist issue.

Where we disagree* is that she thinks that means we have to explain why that thing is explicitly feminist or refrain from posting it.  And I think the very fact of a thing being discussed on a feminist blog puts it in a feminist or wider progressive context.

So just what is a feminist issue?

Are silly boutique clothing stores which cut clothes to fit bigger-busted women a feminist issue?

Of course they fucking are because we live in a patriarchy that demands conformity to an incredibly narrow set of standards of beauty.  The fit and fashionableness of clothes have implications for women’s lives from the ability to meet professional or corporate wardrobe standards to being able to feel comfortable in their bodies to presenting a challenge to those beauty standards by the merest fact of being a non-standard body shape wearing edgy, new, well-fitting or fashionable clothes in public.

Are “aesthetics” a feminist issue?

An alternative title for this post was “Because wearing lipstick can be a feminist act”.  I just said it a paragraph above:  beauty standards.  Daring to be visible in public.  Add to that gender performativity and people’s choice to challenge norms or desire to blend in to make their lives that little bit easier if they need/want to.  Add to that the entire area of human attraction and romance and celebrity crushes or appreciation of the physical form and our ability to challenge those things without scrapping the notion of finding other human beings fucking hot.

Are cupcakes and knitting feminist issues?

Obviously not, I mean, duh, there’s no room for reclamation of traditionally “feminine” roles and crafts.  No space for a discussion of the pressures of modern life depriving people of time to really engage with the food they eat or maintain old customs or challenge that big evil capitalist system by taking charge of the means of production even in small home-cooking cottage-industry ways.  We definitely don’t want to break down orthorexic messages about “bad foods” and we definitely shouldn’t prop up our mental health and self-esteem defences against the constant criticism of patriarchy by taking pride in creating things.

But what if we don’t spell out why these things are feminist issues?

Plenty of conversations about cupcakes or clothing stores don’t actually involve posts saying “I have baked cupcakes in accordance with my personal desire to bake uninfluenced by notions of proper women’s roles, for a bake sale at my children-who-have-my-surname’s school because my male life-partner was too tired after a hard day’s respecting my reproductive choices.”

Do we seriously fucking have to?**

I am a staunch fucking warrior for the feminist cause, people.  I will rant at the drop of a hat or the merest sighting of a Cosmo cover, I will march, I will campaign.  But sometimes I have to take a break.  Sometimes people who work even harder than me, like Sady Fucking Doyle, need to take a break, and build up our reserves of stamina and anger in order to continue the fight and not burn out.

Sometimes I just want to have a fucking glass of cider with some friends, and talk shit about baking and weddings, and it’s really fucking awesome to be able to do that in a group where I am guaranteed not to encounter casual racism or homophobia or transphobia or classism or any other gratuitous exercise of privilege.  It’s really fucking awesome to know I could post on a forum about hating fucking Valentine’s Day and not run the stellarly high risk of having someone fucking bingo me with “oh but you’ll feel different when you’re in a relationship” or “oh you just need to drop your man and find one who’ll treat you right.”***

And I can imagine someone coming across Emma’s, and thinking “who can I share this with without getting a dozen “oh I had that problem but then I tried X diet” or “tee hee I’m so lucky I can just buy straight off the rack at Glassons” or “do you ever try wearing your bra as a hat?”**** responses?”

And maybe they just fucking thought hey, this group of women who I know are all in Wellington and who I can probably assume will all have some understanding of basic feminist critiques of beauty standards and the fashion industry will totally want to know that there are other patriarchy-busting resources out there for those of them with this particular problem.

But fuck, I guess they just weren’t being real feminists.


*And oh my god can you BELIEVE that we might be able to disagree without me declaring Maia has lost 10 Feminist House Points?

**Statement of the fucking obvious:  some places have narrow commenting policies.  Some places explicitly spell out what qualifies as on- or off-topic.  The owners of those places get to make those calls and as always, it’s fucking rude for anyone to declare that those policies must be changed because all feminist conversation must follow a, b, c rules.  Which is why I’m a lot less cussy elsewhere and anyone trying to rehash fucking over-cooked topics is getting no linguistic mercy.

***True story.

****Also true story.

Even hotter swimwear for LITERALLY every body!

Stuff’s awesome, non-judgemental, completely empowering and not at all consumerism-pushing body-policing article on swimsuits has inspired me, dear readers, to impart my own equally-qualified opinions on the matter!


These singlet-style tops are perfect for the more casual look or the lazier bather who can’t be bothered actually getting changed when they get to the beach – and as a bonus, they hide your precious tickly-belly from the evil daystar!

Ruched one-pieces

The solution for all those women who worry that they don’t have enough ruched one-pieces in their live.

Triangle bikinis / side-tie bottoms

Triangle bikinis are triangle-shaped which means they’re great for those of us with dodecahedronal figures.

Side-tie bikinis are unfortunately tarred by generations of douchebags making “durr easy access” comments, but fuck those wankers, tie a double bow and give patriarchy the finger while wearing bows.

Prints or colour-blocking?

This is an area where lots of women make mistakes.  The trick is to stick your tongue out one side of your mouth while looking in a mirror and popping one hip forward and thinking, “Do I prefer prints or colour-blocking?”  When you get an answer, choose that one.

What colours go with what bodies/skin tones?

Bright colours look great on people who want to wear bright colours.  Dark colours look great on people who like to wear dark colours.

I know it’s a really hard time of year, sistren, what with every fucking patriarchy-mag screaming about Getting Your Beach Body For Summer! AND the forthcoming Lose Weight Before/During/After Christmas panic,* but just follow my advice, eat and exercise according to your ability and preference, and you will totally be the most self-confident sheila on the beach this summer.  Who gives  a fuck about anything else?


*The only reason I hate having a summer Christmas.

New Rule

Dear Herald,

When No Right Turn, The Hand Mirror and Kiwiblog think your article on Bronagh Key’s wardrobe is a bit off? They’re probably right.*

PS. Bronagh Key is not the “First Lady”. The election just gone was not a presidential one (despite our media’s attempts to pretend otherwise and ride the US-style-leaders’-debates bandwagon).

If Bronagh Key wants fashion advice from anyone, she’s a grown-up woman and more than capable of talking to your grab-bag of Fashion Designers Only Readers of Bridget Saunders’ Column Would Recognise on her own initiative.

If Bronagh Key wants to be NZ’s answer to Diana, Princess of Wales (and fucking hell, Herald, of all newspapers in this country I’d expect you to understand the correct form of her title) or Jackie Onassis, then she’s able to make that choice. But please don’t take your pathetic need to invent shallow, superficial news stories, or impose ridiculously inappropriate narratives on her.

And for fuck’s sake, when economic times are tough, when people in the US are still pissed about the amount spent on Sarah Palin’s wardrobe (hmm, all the fashion-affected people mentioned so far are women, I wonder why), anyone who’s honestly offended that she wore the same jacket twice needs a serious reality check.

*This is now a corollary to my previous Rule of Life, “If any three of ACT, the Greens, the Maori Party and United Future vote against something, it’s probably an objectively bad idea.”