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What Do You Wear?

In the spirit of the World Women’s Month, and for the love of womanhood…

Few years ago, I had a conversation with a mentor of mine. The focus of our conversation was on dressing and modern day fashion trends. My discussion with him gave me a broader view of the fashion world in relation to personality projection, self-perception, and public view.

Today, while writing this very piece, I feel the need to educate women out there who perhaps do not quite understand the concept of fashion or self-perception and public view as a whole. This piece in no way supports any form of societal ill or offences against women or even men. It is simply written for the purpose of enlightenment and education.

Over the years, I’ve heard a handful of ladies make statements like, ‘I love dressing this way, so why can’t I dress this way?’, ‘It is my body after all, why should it bother anyone?’, ‘I’m a married woman, that doesn’t mean I have to change the way I dress for any reason.’. However, what they do not understand is that choices, stance and desires are shaped greatly by environment. When I say environment, I do not speak specifically of surroundings, but rather; people, experiences, circumstances, external influence, relationships, interactions with foreign environments/bodies, degree of knowledge, accessibility to knowledge, etc All these, whether we agree or not, have shaped our choices, stances and decisions at one point or the other. To deny this fact would be absolutely unnecessary.

I once had a conversation with a pedophile during my quest to seek logical explanations for certain behaviours society considers as immoral. I questioned him about how his childhood days and his relationship with his peers. In the course of our discussion, I discovered he was never exposed to as a kid. In fact he never played any of the games we so much love to play as kids. I also discovered that having been isolated from the world as a child, his urge to interact with kids even as an adult was way beyond normal. This eventually led to the need to bond with virtually any child that comes his way. In time, he found he became even closer to them than ‘morally acceptable.’

The same logic applies to a broken home, a loving sibling, a frustrating teacher, an unworthy friends who blame you for their mistakes and deform your self confidence, a parent’s habits and way of life, etc.

Nowadays, when I look at a dress in the boutique, on the net, anywhere, I try to get into the head of the designer, whoever he/she may be. I ask questions like, ‘what did he hope to achieve with that slit?’, ‘what message did that designer hope to send across with that cleavage cut at the breast line?’ And if that message doesn’t resonate with me, my personality or the image I hope to project to the world, then I simply don’t go for it. I say, ‘that wasn’t made for me.’ And that ends it.

Fashion itself has its etymology from latin ‘facio, facere’, which means ‘to make’, and old from french ‘facon‘, meaning ,’appearance‘ or ‘composition.’ In the history of fashion, the whole concept was to create an artistic avenue to tell the world ‘who you are‘ and ‘what you hoped to achieve in that very state.‘ Fashion was a medium to pass several messages non verbally. It was in such a way that if a person looked at you, they can simply tell where you are from, whether or not you are royalty, your profession, your role in a play/drama (which still translates to a means of personality identification), etc. Thus, it became very easy to distinguish a respectable lady from a prostitute, a free thinker from an addict, an African from a Scot, etc.

Fashion in the clothing sense doesn’t just mean ‘modesty’, it also means ‘expression’ and ‘definition’. It is a statement, a way of visually communicating your interests. And so, if you are communicating the wrong message, you would most certainly get an equal response. After all, you are addressed the way you are dressed. Fashion trends are cool and there is absolutely nothing wrong with following trends, as long as they communicate the right message about your personality, goals, ambitions and heritage.

I believe to some extent, if majority of women think this way, the dignity and respect for womanhood would surface and remain intact for generations to come.

So, tell me, WHAT DO YOU WEAR?

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