The Problem with Gendered Fashion
Clothing often proposes a certain stereotype that is raised by society. To be a man or a woman is closely linked to that appearance. An example would be gender-specific colors for attire. When buying clothes for a baby, blue-themed clothing is often given to a baby boy while pink-themed one is given to a baby girl. Although this is seemingly harmless, gender-specific clothing reinforces the mindset that people are supposed to dress a certain way in order to “fit in” with the rest of society.
Men who carry themselves in feminine clothing are often subjected to harmful insults and hate speech by those around them.
An agender teen from California was hospitalized for three weeks because a classmate set their skirt on fire after mistaking them for a gay man. A high school student was suspended for “attempting to incite a riot” because they wore a pink tutu for breast cancer awareness month. An American rapper, singer, and songwriter, Young Thug, got beaten up by his father for wearing his sister’s glitter shoes at the age of 12. The stigma that men face for simply dressing femininely is still prevalent and sadly hinders many males from freely expressing themselves without fear of judgment.
On the other hand, women are put under the expectation to dress in what society deems as traditionally feminine. Women who present themselves in a masculine manner face stigma for their gender nonconformity.
“I definitely feel that people more often assume that [I’m gay] just because I enjoy sports and because of the way I dress in athletic wear and baggy pants,” says Brooke Pearson, a first-year architecture student at Ryerson and member of the women’s varsity soccer team. Women who wear masculine clothing are often stereotyped as a lesbian because breaking gender norms is still negatively perceived to the point where many will still associate it with a difference in sexuality.
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that gender refers to the set of characteristics of women, men, girls, and boys that are socially constructed. As a social construct, gender can vary from society to society and can change over time.
The idea that humans are either male or female is deeply rooted in Western culture, but research shows that sex and gender are not binary. So let us ask ourselves, why should our clothes be?
Message from the writer:
Short Bio: I wrote this piece as my application for an organization that aims to raise awareness of underlying issues in society. Likewise, I hope to do the same in my own little way by sharing this with everyone.
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Edited by Emiru Okada
Graphic by Emily Mogami