On Feminism, Environmentalism and Fashion.

Oh just look at the amazingness of this coat that I bought today.

I was only walking through the charity shop as a short cut back to the house.

I also bought a jumper and a dress, which I do love by I am most excited about the coat.

But why? As a (relatively) outspoken environmentalist and feminist people I know are always surprised at my excitement over clothes.  I am made to feel guilty about it; I try to keep it hidden.  But for as long as I can remember I have loved looking at the pictures in Vogue, rummaging around second-hand clothes shops, and had a full-to-bursting wardrobe to prove it.  This guilt must end.

Feminists dress in feminine clothing, they enjoy fashion.  And they don’t, we are as varied as you would expect a group of people to be.  All you need is a belief that men and women are equal and should have equal opportunities.  You can even be a man.  Wow.  Pretty obvious you would think, but it’s amazing how much time I seem to spend arguing about this.  You don’t even need to own a pair of Doc Martins.  (But it’s okay if you do).

Now obviously there are issues with the fashion industry, which is not always a feminist friendly place.  Fashion magazines don’t actually do women many favours.  But the fashion industry is not the same thing as clothes or clothes making or creative dressing.  And I do feel as though I am opting out of it by  choosing not to shop on the high street.  But I am also sure that there are lots of feminists who work in fashion.  To suggest otherwise, or that a fashion career in anti-feminist, is a little like claiming that since vegetarians have objections to certain foods and certain farming methods then they should not eat anything at all.

You don’t have to be wearing sackcloth and hemp to care about the environment.  Honestly.  It’s true.  In fact I might be wearing the leopard print coat to Camp for Climate Action.  Over my smartest suit, just to confuse the police.

As a side note, I find that “hippy look” just as pretentious as designer clothing, considering that if people really weren’t trying hard then they would be wearing jeans not long skirts with bits of mirror attached.   Anyway.  That’s irrelevant.  What is relevant is that there isn’t anything intrinsically destructive about clothes, just the way that they are produced.  So recycling (i.e. second had shopping) or freecycling your outfits can easily fit alongside environmental beliefs.

Again, there are obviously a few issues around attaching so much value to material possessions, and this is one of the thinks that I spend a lot of time thinking about.  But clothes are less to do with possessions than self-image and creativity and experimenting with the way in which you present yourself.  I wouldn’t deny anybody this pleasure.  I certainly enjoy putting together “new” (second-hand) outfits.  Can I really call myself a non-consumer when I am so hooked on “new” clothes from charity shops?  I’m still not sure, bit at least I am thinking about it and that has to be something.


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