Opinion: Clothes are just clothes

Fashion+has+historically+been+forced+into+gender+norms%2C+and+still+is%2C+but+it+is+time+for+those+societal+structures+to+change.+Clothes+should+not+be+confined+to+one+gender+and+should+be+able+to+be+used+as+a+form+of+expression.+

"coat hangers" by funkypancake is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Fashion has historically been forced into gender norms, and still is, but it is time for those societal structures to change. Clothes should not be confined to one gender and should be able to be used as a form of expression.

Guest Writer Camille Meyers is a sophomore in Brandon Kendall’s 10th grade Literature and Composition class. The following article was originally submitted as an assignment in that class and is published with permission.

In the past, fashion has been based on the gender norms of the world — men wear suits, and women wear dresses. As I have gotten older and learned more about life, I have realized how ridiculous those rules really are. The articles of clothing that one wears should not determine how masculine or feminine the person is.

The articles of clothing that one wears should not determine how masculine or feminine the person is.”

— Guest Writer Camille Meyers

This is more of a problem with men than it is with women. For instance, it is common for women to wear suits, and nothing is said about it, but when Harry Styles wears a dress on the cover of “Vogue,” he is criticized and is no longer considered “manly.” 

Men’s wardrobe has become the standard of fashion, making it socially acceptable for women to wear men’s clothing. Why is a man wearing women’s attire any different? It is simply a double standard. 

Elizabeth Semmelhack, creative director at a museum, shares that when talking about the word “unisex,” “Men are viewed as the ‘neutral’–the ‘standard’–and everything outside that as ‘the other.” 

It is acceptable for a woman to be more masculine because that is the ideal role in the world, whereas being feminine is considered embarrassing to some people. Men are automatically labeled “gay” or “queer” when they express feminine qualities. 

Pieces of clothing put on a person’s body have no effect on their personality and who they are as a person. If a man who is considered “manly” by society’s standards puts on a dress, he is still capable of doing the same “manly” things he was able to do before wearing the dress. 

In the 2020 December issue of “Vogue,” Harry Styles stated, “Clothes are there to have fun with and experiment with and play with.” Fashion is meant for expression. In no way does it define a person’s sexuality, or how masculine or feminine a person is.

The people who disagree with this often believe it is wrong because it breaks their values. The writer of a “Vogue” article about gender norms fading away states, “Gender is a societal construct built on expectations about how men and women are supposed to behave,” 

The double standards that society has for men and women are unacceptable and need to be changed.”

— Guest Writer Camille Meyers

“The more society realises this, the more the idea of using gender as a game comes into play: it’s something that can be bent and shifted, rather than a rigid, set rule. And, it’s worth noting, that people have been breaking the so-called rules of gender forever,” Semmlehack said. 

What everyone has to understand is that society is changing and the world today is so much different from how it used to be. Part of that change is the fading of gender norms. While you may not believe a man wearing women’s clothing or vice versa is right, it does not affect anyone except for the person wearing clothes. 

People also argue that if fashion has no effect on the masculinity of a man, then why are men being praised for wearing feminine clothing? While it should be a normal thing for a person to express themselves fashion-wise, no matter their gender, it is not because of the “rules” society has put in place. They are being defamed for crossing these lines that should be imaginary because in order for change attention must be brought to the issue. 

The world has created this stigma around gender roles and gender as a whole in society today. Change needs to be taken to allow others to express themselves in any way they feel. The double standards that society has for men and women are unacceptable and need to be changed. Clothing does not define a person’s masculinity or femininity.

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