I’ve always felt a bit offbeat so I’ve liked to express that in my wardrobe. I’ve always liked mixing different styles, bright colors, and vintage items. Sometimes these various looks have shown off my figure a bit and people around me have seen that as opening myself up to criticism. You might say I have a “fuller” chest and so sometimes I fill out a dress or a top a bit more than a woman who is the same dress size but has a different chest size. I had many occasions of feeling good about how I looked when I went out but then noticed some looks and whispers, so then the fear of being judged set in and discomfort ensued. I’ve also experienced more overt reactions such as being shouted to while walking down the street and being called names over the internet. As I’ve gotten older, it’s gotten easier to not care about what others think and to just wear what I feel happy in, but the annoyance with negative reactions still bubbles up once in a while.
There have been times where I have dressed more “normal” because I thought it was best to avoid judgment, but then I realized people were going to judge no matter what. People have been judging others for what they wear and how they look since the beginnings of civilization. It wasn’t that long ago that it was scandalous for women to show their ankles or wear pants in countries like the United States and Britain. Many women have had to fight for the right to wear what they want to wear, and it still happens around the world today. In countries such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, it is the law that women must be completely covered when out in public. So when I wear an outfit that shows off the ladies a bit or very short shorts or what-have-you, I’m expressing my patriotic freedoms and the victory over repression of women.
From my attitude, you may or may not have already been able to tell that I consider myself a feminist. But I have a hard time relating to some women that identify as it as well because we don’t seem to be eye to eye on what women can wear or look like. Some have been calling for less scantily clad women in things such as video games and advertising and I can partially see where they’re coming from. Yes not every woman can achieve the sort of looks popularly portrayed and there should be more of a diverse representation of women. But we also shouldn’t vilify that sort of image every time we see it. In my opinion, vilifying the image of large chested scantily clad (or unclad) women is another form of slut shaming. This past week with the controversy over the British physicist Matt Taylor’s shirt (#ShirtGate), one of my first thoughts was “then what are they saying about women that look like the ones on the shirt?”
One of the major issues that was said about the shirt was that the scientist was showing girls that women could still only be seen in that light in the scientific community. I was astounded that people thought to read into it that much. But also by saying that, aren’t they saying a woman who looks like that can’t also be a scientist or intelligent person? When a woman is intelligent is she supposed to be a plain Jane and not express herself if she so pleases? I think the feminine figure is very beautiful and I greatly respect fellow ladies that are brave enough to share it with the world. There’s often the stereotype that attractive women are often unintelligent or “dumb sluts”, so I think some radical feminists are shooting the point of the movement in the foot by getting outraged over images like that because they are helping to perpetuate that stereotype. Feminism has traditionally been about gender equality, not censoring images or shaming people. I felt awful for Matt Taylor when I saw his apology for wearing the shirt. I don’t think he had to apologize because an article of clothing does not hurt anyone. From my own times of being shamed for what I wore, I really sympathized with him. It was not calling for equality of the sexes, it was bullying similar to the slut shaming men do.