The Problem With Defining Our Styles


Think about the last time you walked into a clothing store. You probably did the same thing we all do. You picked a side. Stores are all designed in a similar way. Skirts, floral patterns, and fitted t-shirts consume one side as baggy jeans, loose tops, and baseball caps occupy the other. But have you ever thought about why there is such a fine line between these two styles of clothing? Why must we distinguish between “feminine” and “masculine” clothing options? As someone who shops on both sides of the clothing store, I have started to notice that many people tend to judge and place labels on others according to the clothing we put on our backs. The words butch, tomboy, femme, and many more are often used to describe women according to how they present themselves in the world. When did the world start defining us by how we dress?

Gendered stereotypes are everywhere and it’s important to remember that we cannot give in to them. A girl with a baseball cap on backwards and shorts that reach her knees is not a butch. She is not any more boyish than the next girl. Her choice in clothing was made because that is how she wants to express herself. The word butch is a term we created in order to categorize what girls look like. But it’s important to think about how ridiculous it is to place humans into these categories. Placing these labels on girls when we analyze them from the outside not only hurts the person being labeled but also the person doing the labeling. A girl wearing a baggy t-shirt with her hair in a bun has the same right to feel beautiful as a girl in a floral dress and make up.

Compliments are the best way to defeat gendered stereotypes. It has taken me years to finally be comfortable in what I wear. To this day I still get the short end of the stick when it comes to compliments. Just because I opt for a button down shirt instead of a maxi dress doesn’t mean I don’t want to be called beautiful. Watching many other girls get compliments while I stand in the background has fueled my interest and involvement in this issue. We all should feel beautiful in whatever we choose to wear. Reminding every young woman out there that she is beautiful will help all of us feel comfortable in a world that has its heart set on defining gender expressions.

The bottom line is that you are going to wear so many different things in your lifetime. But no matter how many times you change your outfit before a first date, make sure your final decision is made because it makes you happy. People are going to say what they want about you, but only you know the truth.