How Fashion is Related to Feminism

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Clothing was first used as a way of survival – to stay warm when the weather got colder; it wasn’t until the 1790’s when clothing started to mean something.  The first use of clothing in American history was not as fashionable as one may think. Similar to the Scarlet Letter, people who were accused of adultery were forced to wear the letters “AD” on their outermost piece of clothing as their punishment.  
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    It wasn’t until the 1790’s when women started to create the first trends in fashion.  The first trend was empire style dresses.  Women would get ideas about fashion not from designers, but rather from their children’s dolls clothing, and would copy these items of clothing.   
    Today, I never thought that a simple piece of clothing or trend could cause an outrage, but history has proven that clothing can catch people’s attention.  One hot topic currently is dress codes in schools and girls being more penalized than boys.  When I was in high school, I was asked to put on a sweater because my tank top straps were too thin, but no guy in my school ever got asked to put on a sweatshirt for violating the dress code.  For example, guys would wear a cut out workout shirt, that pretty much both sides of it were missing, and never be questioned.  Bloomers where the first piece of clothing linked to women’s rights. Bloomers were ankle-length pants, that were worn with a mid length dress. Even though few women did wear this style, it caused a public outrage because traditionally women were not seen wearing pants.  
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    Unlike famous celebrities in the 1800’s and early 1900’s, celebrities today are making a lot of money endorsing products.  In 1908, Paul Poiret designed the first corsetless dress.  A corset was used in all dresses before this.  A corset is a tightly fitted undergarment that is tied in the back worn to shape the figure of the women.  The reason they used corsets at that time was to make women look skinnier; their belief was it would make them more appealing to men.  A few years back, I had to wear a corset for a halloween costume and it was possibly the most uncomfortable piece of clothing I’ve ever worn. Today they’re not called corsets anymore, they are called “waist trainers” and are being endorsed most famously by The Kardashians.  The Kardashians are a popular family from a reality show and have one of the biggest followings on social media.  Body image is a problem that affects everyone and one of the biggest issues is how society views beauty.  Feminist and proponents of health and hygiene were criticizing the problems with the corset years before it was removed from all dresses. When people endorse these it is taking a step back from there being a positive change in society’s view of beauty. 
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    Fashion itself has always been a very controversial world. It’s constantly being changed by designers and society.  Some of those changes are supported and some are highly criticized.   One of the most recent successes in fashion is American Eagle’s company Arie.  Photoshop is used in all fashion photography, whether if it is only a picture of a dress on a site or a national magazine cover. Recently, Kerry Washington spoke out about how there was so much Photoshop used on her cover, she couldn’t even recognize herself.  Arie is the first company to use no Photoshop on any of their models and are using models of every body type.  It was a risky move because no one has done it before, which is what fashion is all about. 

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