I was invited last evening by SheThePeople.tv at the Women Writer's Fest to be part of the panel on discission about Fashion & Feminism. It was a great discussion along with Preeta Sukhtankar, founder at The Label Life and Ameena Azeez, founder and blogger at Fashionopolis, moderated by Anjali Kirpalani, author of the popular novel Written In The Stars.
Its exchange of ideas and a healthy dialogue like these, that give me a clearer perspective of the subject and even more food for thought.
TO ME, FEMINISM MEANS PARITY
I believe, men and women are equal and therefore the fight is for education, pay and suffrage at par with men. Parity is how I define feminism.
I have written on topics like Granny panties, my take on the Pit-hair movement and more without ever realizing they were being considered feminist. And that is exactly what I term feminism; a state where you're not conscious of your gender or strengths/weaknesses thereof. Its not ignorance or being oblivious, its just being comfortable in your skin.
FASHION INDUSTRY USES FEMINISM AS A CRUTCH
Celebrities and designers endorsing feminism is only a branding exercise. Period. We need to understand that the fashion industry is a commercial enterprise and it endorses feminism (or does not endorse) when it suits them. Karl Lagerfeld staged the so-called 'feminist revolution' at Chanel SS15 while in the past he has said some really nasty things about fat women and has been passing highly misogynistic comments for years now. Celebrities have promoted their new releases under the garb of promoting feminism. Its almost funny when feminist comments come from Bollywood, an industry that reeks of patriarchy and male chauvinism. (Thought I do believe, Kangana Ranaut is a true feminist). Women needs to realize that the fashion industry uses feminism for self-promotion, the term to them is merely a crutch.
FASHION INDUSTRY IS A VICTIM OF PATRIARCHY
Fashion industry is stuck in its own image. They have always associated themselves with skinny/thin (direct association with young girls; again a complex association with patriarchy) and have only catered to that limited image. Today, when women are asserting themselves and pushing back demanding for more, they're forced to cater to plus sizes too.
However, I strongly believe, that we need to unlabel the term 'plus size'. With changing lifestyle and healthier/more food options, more women than ever are growing taller and bigger (much before time) which means they're not skinny, unless they starve themselves. When over 60% of women in any community are on the heavier side, the women themselves need to realize that they're the norm and therefore dont need to be labelled. The brands should be catering to us (the not-so-thin) anyway. So why are we fighting for a label? It should be as simple as including more sizes in their collection. That a bodycon dress will only look good on a skinny woman and not on heavier body type, leave it to the womam to decide, please!
INDIAN SOCIETY IS BASED ON INEQUALITY
We live in a society that is laid on foundations of discrimination and inequality, starting with caste; how can we even talk about gender equality? And then, ideas like feminism become a distant idea. Indians have a long way to go to really understand the meaning of feminism and stand up for it.
WHAT IT ALL BOILS DOWN TO
So when people say, so and so fashion is meant to psyche women into buying, it almost sounds like the industry is conspiring against us. The fact is they dont have the time to think about you, me or anybody unless we have the moolah. And that is exactly where the problem lies. Which is our understanding of the fashion industry.
The fashion industry is only persuing a commercial enterprise and neither do they have the power nor capability to empower women. We have to empower ourselves and the fashion industry will follow!