I have a confession: I’ve always thought that fashion is superficial and shallow, which is why I am more annoyed than embarrassed by the fact that I, instead of living out my own taste, feed on what the fashion system dictates me to wear.
The past days I am seriously beginning to doubt my beliefs though.
I have read fashion blogs for about two years, and I have always been a bit embarrassed about it. Blogs like Trines Wardrobe where a girl is photographing her self every single day, I mean come on! Of course I know that the only reason I am repelled by the whole self-absorbed thing is because I do the exact same: I am on Myspace, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Blogspot AND a I have a website (two if we include Danish Models). And I’ve googled my own name several times. Self-absorbed = me!
Anyhow, the reason for my epiphany today is a combination of a book and two american teenagers. The book I am reading right now is this one by Daniel Miller:
And what he is saying is that in the modern western society we experience truth and being as something on the surface, because people are always defined by their current abilities and achievements. Whereas other more institutionalized societies (for example like back in the day) see truth and being as something deep within the self and relatively constant.
The fact that we everyday experience this ‘being’ as something on the outside obviously affects our relationship with our clothes, since clothes automatically will represent a way to discover who we actually are. Of course we spend more time being concerned with how we look, because how we look equals, not only a reflection of, but who we actually are. We build up our identity through what we wear.
But at the same time we have this notion that ‘being’ is supposed to be something deep, and this has some funny consequences for example in terms of our perception of being natural:
“We have this very peculiar ideal about looking natural, which tends to imply that putting on make-up and clothes is false and superficial. But why should we assume this? […] Why on earth should the natural look of a person be a guide to who that one person is? By contrast, a person who spends time, money, taste and attention in creating a look, where the final look is the direct result of all that activity and effort, can properly be discovered in their appearance. Because now one is judging what we have done, not what they happen to look like originally.”
I think that is pretty exiting, but also kind of one sided. Therefore I was happy when I found a blogpost from an american teenager talking to other teens about having the guts to create your (true and profound) identity on the outside, which of course is scary, because it’s new and you don’t know if it’s you or not yet, because you are body storming to find out, instead of rationalizing or copying.
“I think most people are afraid of dressing a little stranger or cuter because they’re afraid people will think they think they’re so great. Like people will be like, “OH, SO YOU’RE ALL ARTSY NOW?” Nobody will say this if you act like it’s no big deal, as opposed to constantly checking yourself in trophy-case reflections or whatever. If anyone does say it, you look at them, give one of the more subtle “you are an idiot” bitchfaces, and say, “…No?” And they will feel like a dumbass.[…] What such people don’t get is that most people who like more obscure music or wear vintage clothes don’t think of themselves as artsy, they’re just exploring and trying to define their taste instead of being someone who likes whatever is handed to them for fear of being mistaken for pretentious. I don’t like the term hipster—I think it’s become so broad as to apply to basically everyone—but the defining quality is that a hipster thinks and cares about what their tastes say about them, instead of just liking what they like. And so there is nothing more hipster than a person who decides that the only reason another person is wearing a colorful dress is that they’re concerned with what that dress means for their image. It’s hipster to give a shit if other people are hipsters or not; this is why people who claim they’re not hipsters are the most hipster of all, because they’rethinking that hard about it, and caring that much about what other people think.
People are afraid of trying to be creative because they’re afraid that they won’t succeed, but who said your “success” in getting dressed has to be evaluated by other people? As long as you’re into what you’re wearing and it makes you more comfortable with yourself, it doesn’t matter if someone else thinks you’ve put together a perfectly composed outfit. Actually, the effect of your confidence will only add to how stylish your outfit seems. It’s like the best catch-22 ever.
On top of that I then discovered that this little brat whom I always liked to hate actually had some really interesting ideas about fashion, feminism and society at TedxTeen.
So today I am wearing my dad’s old pants, my reverse jacket and two old plastic horses with pride (and a slight hope that I am now a tiny step closer toward creating a sustainable fashion consumption project that will actually appeal to people).