Wednesday, October 31, 2007

People should dress their bodies rather than their genders. It seems an obvious and rational statement yet it is in direct opposition to accepted behaviour.

In many countries clothing is sorted into three definite consumer categories: male, female and unisex. Most people automatically opt for clothing that fits into their gender description. They position their bodies in line with the binary categorisation that consumer culture provides. The actual shape and silhouette of their bodies is placed within that structure regardless of what it actually looks like, whether it’s actually the right shape for the clothes.

Even if a specific body would suit the clothes of the opposite gender from an aesthetic perspective, even if different clothes would accentuate masculinity or femininity more people tend to stick to the correct category. Shopping outside of those consumer definitions is regarded as subversive by those that consider it and not regarded at all by a huge number of people. There’s a tendency to listen to the bureaucracy rather than the shape of the body that you’re dressing and that is related to cultural pressure, the need to be more female or male, more in line with culture than self. Occasionally a woman who buys jeans from the men's section will pipe up about it but rarely will you hear of other instances of women buying men's clothes and the suspicion is that those women come from a culture of light cross-dressing, are backed up in this choice by their peers. Gendered departments are usually viewed as a rule rather than a guideline.

There is a better school of dress to subscribe to. People who have choice should disregard the gender categories that consumerism provides and think about their bodies, what fits them, what they look good in and most importantly the ways in which their bodies are naturally structured. People need to think about their hips, their shoulders, their thighs and chests and waists and garb themselves according to the rules of their bodies and not wider society. It’s difficult, not least because you have to see yourself and clothes and it is tough to think about what suits you as well as what you like, hard to find clothes that do both. Even more so when you’re breaking taboos. But what is this foolish gender divide that we allow society to infringe on us? I hear the refrain “Men and women are different” all the time but I’m a little more concerned with similarities, particularly those parts of our gender construction that were written centuries ago. If we’re so different why create more difference? If it’s already there we don’t need to mark it out, that happens naturally so the suggestion has to be more freedom to wear what we want, the clothes that make us more beautiful, that emphasise the strengths we have individually.

No comments: