The New Norm: Gender Equality in Fashion
By Curtis Harding
Why do so many of us feel that twitch of discomfort in seeing a guy walk around in a dress? And while we’re more accepting of women switching between pants and dresses, each time women have pushed back against traditional notions of dress, they’ve battled criticism. They’ve fought hard to wear what they want, but we still find ways to judge women for dressing too butch or too girly or too sexy or too… whatever.
Why do I feel discomfort even from within the LGBTQ+ community, with friends possessing far greater gender fluidity than I could ever imagine for myself? I wholeheartedly support gender identity and expression in all forms, but that hold that traditional masculinity and femininity has on me has been so damn tough to shake. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this dichotomy.
Society hammers a binary view of gender and gender expression into our very beings from before we’re even born. Parents hold baby showers or gender reveal parties with gifts and puffs of smoke delivered in the “appropriate” colors. We’re then put in clothes that stem from those binary colors and slowly, over time, we’re taught the behavior that’s expected from sweet pink little girls and rambunctious blue little boys. It’s all so frustratingly… arbitrary.
Fashion, gender identity and gender expression are always changing. Gen Z is even more open to accepting a spectrum of gender identity than Millennials, and more celebrities are willing to use their spotlight to push traditional boundaries. Gender non-binary people like Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness will comfortably don a dress, but so will a confident cisgender (a person identifying as their birth sex) man like Harry Styles.
If we want to embrace inclusivity and acknowledge the dignity of all humans on the gender spectrum, how do we do that? And how do we do that in a way that’s understandable and respectful?
More fashion brands and clothing stores should ask these questions. Clothes are such a crucial part of gender expression. Pre-designating them for men or women is just chasing a mass market created back in the 1950s to accommodate notions of a rigid, sexist gender divide. That’s not good enough anymore. It’s just one more part of society that reinforces our discomfort, rather than encourages us to grow beyond it.
So what if we stopped buying and selling “men’s” clothing and “women’s” clothing? What, if anything, would we put in their place? What if, rather than insisting every person fits into the boxes decided for them, we let them find where they fit on their own?
These questions don’t have easy answers, but we need to ask them if we want to move towards a future where people feel safe and comfortable in their own skin and their own clothes.
D.O.B. will question and evolve traditional gender norms. We are committed to creating a community where everyone feels welcome without judgment, with the freedom to choose from designs and brands that represent you.