Allies or Adversaries? All Is Fair in Fashion and Sex, Part 2

All Is Fair in Fashion and Sex
Part II: Adversaries
Though this may come as a surprise to the general public, fashion's definition of sexy often doesn't align with mainstream; Victoria's Secret models and curvy girls like Kate Upton have a hard time booking high-fashion gigs (unless they've built up enough industry cred) for a reason. What we see walking down the runways on rail-thin models with no curves suggests that fashion's definition of sexy is more androgynous, less normatively feminine, but not necessarily less harmful to a woman's self esteem as, say, Sport Illustrated swimsuit models. Tight, short, sparkly dresses may be preferred by the male gaze, but they don't exactly fall under the purview of "haute couture." In this way, mainstream sexy and fashion sexy are at odds, and fashion can actually break down normative definitions of femininity and sexuality.


But let's not ignore the implications of the mass majority of fashion- the mainstream brands that are still part of the multi-billion dollar industry that use sex as a marketing tool. Personally, I have no problem with the idea that "sex sells," but this tactic can become problematic when it becomes enmeshed (and its pretty impossible not to) with cultures that continually sexualize women's bodies. Think about perfume ads, underwear ads, swimwear spreads; are those empowering women through sex or degrading them to mere objects of desire?


Short, tight, black, sparkly, high heels, simple make-up. That pretty much defines the mainstream go-to sexy look. Fashion folks are yawning.


So tell me what you think: are fashion and sex allies or adversaries? Is there something more you would've liked me to mention in the fashion/sex debate?

1 comment:

  1. Such great insights! I think about this all the time. I think fashion can be incredibly empowering, like when you find a beautiful outfit that fits really well, and it makes you feel amazing! But fashion advertising is really limited in its view of 'ideal' beauty, and teaches societal values of objectification and sexualization. There's certainly no one right answer, it's a very blurred line, and the answer is different for everyone. But I do wish that the fashion industry embraced the idea of self-love more.

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