(a fashion blogger followed this blog in between the writing of this post on Monday night and its uploading on Tuesday afternoon. Wonder if I’ll have one less follower by Wednesday?)
I understand why people care about their appearance; on a biological level, physical attraction is the first criteria by which we select a mate, and on a social level, ‘looking good’ can bring a certain peace of mind, that you’re not as hideously and noticeably unattractive as a gargoyle with constipation, allowing you to easily slip into the masses of plebs who look ‘alright’ as they trundle around our streets. Hell, fashion even has the benefit of giving you the choice to actively look better than these boring folk who wear sensible shoes, and stick out like a pretty little thumb, covered in flowers, rainbows and the abstract concept of attractiveness.
However, beyond these limited benefits, fashion and the extreme extent to which many people care about their outward appearance, is deeply flawed: it’s expensive, and trading money, and therefore power in our society, for an ultimately superficial goal is silly, it’s fundamentally passive, and I feel there’s a developing objectivity around this idea – you’re attractive because you look like the other ‘attractive’ people, even if you all look boringly plain painfully similar.
On that first point, fashion is stupidly expensive – these articles of manly chest hair-covering cost about twenty quid, in a world where you can pick up a severely underrated video game for just £15.74 (apparently); just objectively, you’ll get a lot more use out of a video game than a piece of clothing – clothes don’t make economic sense.
Furthermore, clothes are easily-breakable, or are quickly grown out of if you’re a teenager, so they’re hardly a long-term investment. I know there are cheaper clothes than the one I showed, and much more expensive ones, but I still feel investment into something so short-term is an economically poor choice.
This is worsened by the fact that money is the root of all evil, as the Bible says, and therefore power in our society; not in terms of world-destroying Death Laser ownership, but for smaller things: to be able to provide for your family, in terms of food and water, to be able to pay bills; you may consider clothing a child part of ‘providing’ for it, but I’d argue that if money is tight, you won’t be spending it on designer clothes, you’ll be, much more sensibly, buying such a necessity from a charity shop.
The act of wearing clothes is also fundamentally passive; on one level, it doesn’t make you walk, talk or act differently (unless you happen to be Mr Lordi, or insist on wearing some evolution-defyingly high heels), it’s a superficial and passive change to your person.
For some, this passivity is a good thing, as it means they can wear whatever they want, without fear of compromising their thoughts or actions, like highlighting a worksheet: it looks more visually attractive, but it’s content and ideas remain unchanged.
And while I understand this idea, I don’t see fashion as a ‘hobby’ for this reason: I want to spend my time working, or writing, or reading fourteenth-century Italian poetry, or shouting at Man City’s regen striker Jonathan Barbini for scoring a hat-trick against my York side on Football Manager yet again; all of these things are active, and require my constant attention and focus. Wearing a nice shirt, on the other hand, does not.
As a result, I care very little about my appearance: I can’t see myself and the clothes I wear won’t change anything inherent about me; coupled with the expense of such clothes, it just seems like a waste of money to me. This might just be my own ignorance of the practical benefits of caring of such things in our image-conscious society, or my selfishness, with the idea being that if I can’t see it myself it’s not important, but I’m a deeply flawed individual anyway – my dislike of fashion may be easily undermined, but I still dislike it.
The final idea regarding fashion is the objectivity of it; I’ve noticed that beauty and physical attraction is more of an objective trait than a subjective judgement – essentially, you’re not necessarily pretty if people like how you look, you’re pretty if your face fits into society’s impression of how you should look. Often, the two fields overlap, so no-one really cares about this, but there are a few examples to oppose this.
I’m picking on Emma Watson here because I have a friend who studies Geography and very much wants to put his highlighter onto her A3 sheet, so I’ve heard about her a lot over the last few years. In that picture there’s nothing out of place; the cameras, the comment below saying she looks ‘fab’, my friend’s leaky highlighter, it all points to her conforming to society’s standards of ‘attractive’.
Her hair is neat, makeup done well, collarbones peculiarly exposed (because that’s a thing with women, apparently) and doesn’t have a tumour on her forehead or bodily hair (which is also a thing with women, apparently, despite its warming properties).
However, I’d say I find Icon For Hire’s Ariel more attractive, largely because of her eyes. (Oh God, the eyes; they look into your soul and arouse it, my God the eyes.) It might just be the framing, wind machine or natural air currents of that shot, but I also find her hair more attractive, despite its pinkness.
I’m not saying this to discredit Emma Watson and her attempts to look attractive, or to downplay Ariel’s attempts to do the same thing (because making your own clothes isn’t easy) by suggesting she has some effortless beauty, but that I find the latter’s unconventional means of achieving beauty more physically attractive.
Perhaps my judgement is such because these two individuals are from different cultures – mainstream cinema and alternative indie punk rock, and I just prefer the latter, so I’d be more likely to find a member of that culture more attractive than a member of the first category. However, I think repetition has a part to play; without undermining the individuality of fashion, Emma does look like basically every other actress on a red carpet ever, while Ariel’s getup is more edgy, asymmetrical and unique, and I do display the inherently human characteristic of being attracted to weird stuff, the same trait that made this so popular.
Overall, I just feel that ‘beauty’ has become objectified, not just those involved in modelling it to us; you’re attractive because your hair, clothes and seemingly randomly-chosen bits of skin look like everyone else’s, not necessarily because you’re actually impressing real people with your body. This objectivity also contradicts quite strongly with the message emanating form that industry to ‘be yourself’.
When you combine the objectivity of beauty with it’s passivity and price, I find a concept that’s flawed and frankly annoying. I understand the need to look good – I’m wearing a suit and a new pair of shoes for my interview tomorrow – but I don’t understand people’s fanatical desire for it; Americans spend ten billion dollars a year on the stuff for Christ’s sake!
But isn’t that just part of our society – the prioritisation and idealising of that which is not immediately practical or beneficial to our survival or intellectual development? We made sports, video games, Crazy Bones and the foam dome, so perhaps fashion is just another factor that makes no sense on paper, but is a genuinely massive part of our culture.
Hey, maybe the only reason I dislike it in the first place is because of mindless teenage antiestablishment angst?
The above explanations of my views on the appearances of two women were based solely on their bodies; this does not represent my opinions of their personalities, integrities, or validities as people. This does not contribute to the objectification of women. If you think these judgements fulfil any of these categories, you are wrong, and will be told thusly if you choose to challenge me on the subject. Good day.