Yesterday's NY Times ran a piece on a Nigerian writer who was told that women in the US are not taken seriously if they are well dressed. She was brought up to be well dressed, well accessorized and to be perfectly groomed at all times. That's the norm in her country for women regardless of status or wealth or employment. Her mother would never dream of going to work or out unless perfectly put together. When she came to the US to attend college she found out that an outfit she considered casual was 'too dressy' which was pointed out to her by friends. We're talking about heels, pants and nice top. Kind of what I consider a good everyday outfit, usually minus the heels.
As an aspiring writer she attended a writing conference. The woman next to her remarked that one of the speakers, a woman who had published 3 books, couldn't be taken seriously because she was fashionably dressed. Weren't the 3 books enough to give her serious credentials?
A woman on PR posed the question of whether it's ok to be interested in fashion. It kept her from sewing because she didn't want to be taken as too self involved, which is what I think she thought of women who like fashion. She is seriously conflicted about this!
I love fashion, though probably not as much as some. I don't have the lifestyle to wear a lot of what's considered high fashion, but I search out the casual and fashionable and try and interpret the look to suit my body. I believe that there is nothing wrong with dressing well and fashionably or in loving fashion.
I am old enough to remember Bella Abzug and her hats. She was a serious politician who was not taken seriously and a lot of men made fun of her hats. How about Michelle Obama? Do we not take her seriously because she wears fashionable clothing? She'd been dressing interestingly long before she became First Lady and she held some serious jobs. Hillary Clinton and her pants suits. People talked about them and not in a good way. So, basically women can't win. If you love fashion you are shallow, dress boringly and you are criticized for that too.
In a lot of ways, though women have come a long way since we got the vote, we are still struggling to be taken seriously.
What's your take on women and fashion?
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