My collection of women’s undergarments speak the sad truth about women and their bodies. I did a series of embroidered nipples on the outside of bras, and feminist slogans across the underwear. These slogans are suppose to correlate to Corita Kents work, in which I use propoganda. With Korita being a strong women I decided to use female undergarments with a strong message. I use words as she did with her pop art. I decided to use women’s minimal colored undergarments to show what society and men alike expect from women, this fragile, soft, and sexy flower but then I made sure to use blunt and forward messages that aren’t as pleasant.
Identity is a persons conception and expression of their own and others individuality or group affiliations. To me, it is nearly impossible to steal ones identity. One can try too, but if it is not theirs it is extremely difficult. One can act the part but deep down it is not their individuality. During my social experiment I took on the challenge of taking on someone’s idenity for the week. During these seven days I had a mixture of feelings, reactions, and life lessons. My class mate Shantell and I swapped hairstyles and clothing and began to record our journey.
I am a white female from Orange County while Shantell is a black female from Los Angeles. My hair is bleached blonde and straight while hers is dark and individually braided. I like to dress in girly dresses, and skirts, but add a little flare with cool hats or shoes. Shantell loves to wear plain but colorful dresses that form to her body while wearing flannels, and shawls. Our style on paper seems a little similar but we quickly realized how different we were. The most distinct part about our swap was our hair. For both of us our hair is very important and apparent to our entity. I have been getting my hair done forever in order to keep it white blonde while she spends hours braiding hers. In African American culture, braids are a very powerful hairstyle.
It was the night before day one of the swap and I had to get my braids put in. At this point I began feeling like one of the African American women who would sit at the salon for hours to get their hair done in the ID video we watched in class. In African American culture braids are more than just a hairstyle it’s a sense of history, community, and a way to protect their hair. In order to get the whole experience I invited over friends to hang out while my other friend put in the braids. The process was very painful because my head is very tender. It took about two hours before the braids were finished and would have taken longer if I would have added more hair. I had gotten braids one time a few years back when I was first emerging into fashion, and was asked to sport braids for a photo shoot. Me being young, naive and uneducated I did it. This time around getting the braids were important to me because I am now educated on their purpose, history, and people, and can actually appreciate them. As long as I knew that, that’s all that mattered because I knew once I went outside no one would know exactly why I was rocking these braids and I would be vulnerable to ridicule. I knew I was going to upset people, which was nerve racking. Once the braids were in I noticed my attitude and confidence changed. I felt fierce and strong and really loved the braids. The next day I would wear the braids with an outfit Shantell picked out for me. I started off very plain with jeans and a sweater. I never wear denim and I almost felt as though I was in uniform, and or like every other girl. I went to a fast food restaurant in Echo Park. Echo Park is very diverse. The people in Jack in the Box didn’t seem to mind my hair or really even care. The main guy was very helpful and didn’t seem to even notice my outfit or me.
In Los Angeles everyone seems to be more accepting and nonchalant about fashion and what is “different.” So it was a perfect opportunity to wear my braids back in Orange County where 90% of people are white. There was a huge party that night and I showed up in my braids. Everyone there looks the same and gets their clothes from the surf shop or Nordstrom. My town is actually known for being racists and that’s where I knew it would be toughest. I noticed almost all the guys that said something to me were confused on why I would wear my hair like that? One told me “ you are so much prettier with your normal hair.” My normal hair is straight and blonde which so happens to fit in the western beauty mold. I know guys began looking at me like a “homie” or one of them. I lost my femininity in their eyes. The amount of fake smiles and confused looks was astonishing. If girls said anything it would be along the lines of, “ How fun, what made you do that?” “ Did you go on vacation?” In Fashion, Lifestyle, and Psychiatry, “Females send many more courtship messages through clothing with males as the receivers.” At this point I was sending no courtship messages to these boys in this bar. While seeing my best friends they made comments like, “ put your hair back.” “I cant take you seriously.” And “you look like a poodle.” To me this was a little frustrating because where was there play? It was sad that they are so consumed by western beauty that they can’t see beauty in anything else, or even have fun or appreciate my play.
Besides the braids Shantell was putting my in form fitting dresses. Although they didn’t necessary show skin they were very tight to my body. I felt uncomfortable because usually if I were to wear a tight dress I had my hair down as a barrier. Now with my hair in braids and a tight dress I felt very vulnerable. One of the dresses had slits where my legs were out in the open and this is when I began to feel like an object. I ran into a man who looked me up and down from a very close proximity. This to me was affecting the psychic integrity of both the sender and the receiver through depolarization of the body… as it is explained Fashion, Lifestyle, and Psychiatry. I felt as I was giving the wrong messages. As the days went on my fierceness began to fade and I started to feel very insecure, and a little angry. My hair felt and seemed very dirty and it was affecting my well being. In Fashion, Lifestyle, and Psychiatry, It talks a lot about mood changes, and illness because of fashion, or the lack of. Changing outfits reflects different mood swings. As I got deeper into the seven days my mood was changing and I wasn’t feeling like myself. I just couldn’t wait to wash my hair.
“Call it fashion, costume, or dress, what we wear and how we decorate ourselves tells the world who we are, even in less than fashionable circumstances”(Mendez 2011). And for those seven days I was far from who I am while learned to appreciate others and gain more self-love during the process. I plan on taking what I learned during this swap to educate others and share my experience. I also plan on playing with fashion more in the future and years to come and hope I can encourage others to do the same.
My Identity doll was created from my childhood TWIN Doll that my parents had made to replicate me as a child. This doll has my hair color, skin color, eye color and same facial features as me. I recreated the doll to have darker skin, longer eyelashes, thicker eye brows, fuller lips and a bigger butt. As these are all body image aspirations that I have had throughout the years. I put my doll in NBA shorts to show my athletic side and style.
7. Sisley ad’s continue to cause uproar with their controversial ads.This ad reminds me of Freuds idea that women are clothing fetishes. And his idea that we use clothing to send messages to the opposite sex. This image portrays our addiction to pleasing or dressing for men. This makes women look desperate, and weak, as well as submissive to the ideas of courtship and a women’s role.
8.”The ideal women is someone who’s young, beautiful, sexy, and available to men…”( Mcarthy, 1999) This young girl is posing and looks beyond her years. This idea of women being put out on a platter for men at such a young age is quite scary. This photo embodies a sad, materialistic girl who is waiting for a man. Her innocence is gone which is showing that young women in western societies are losing that much earlier with ideas of money and status. We are taught to use our sexuality at a very young age. This is a good example of todays pageantry. That our mothers must prep us for men and to be married, When in reality this young girl should be outside, smiling, and playing with toys. This ad gives a courtship message from a young girl and gives this pedophilia type of interest.
9. This ad was very disrespectful. It shows a man looking and touching between a women’s legs, although she may be ok with this gesture. This ad gives the notion that we dress for men, that we wear skirts and dresses for this reason, and not because of practicality. This ad depolarize the body and shows this women as erotic.
As an athlete I have found myself in many situations where fashion has made me feel attacked. While playing volleyball our uniform was very small and tight spandex. This is a uniform to be practical and make it easier for us to succeed on the court. I never knew how much it would affect my self-esteem growing up. Boys would think it was ok to stare, touch, and comment about our butts and shorts simply because they were short and tight. They figured that’s why we wore them, for them. It took away the idea that we were strong athletic, active women and gave the notion that we were looking to partner up. I think this affected my body image, as well as distract me from my passion.
- Personal account: I like to go out with friends and go dancing and a lot of the time I find myself going clubbing. In LA its extremely strict when it comes to dress code, unless you have money. If you plan on using a promoter you must dress extremely sexualized otherwise you will be the looser stuck outside of the club. the clothing must be minimal, tighter than skin, and extremely revealing. Makeup and hair must be on point and you have to have the “look” as these promoters would say. If not you will be denied entry. I think this is something to talk about, and as I sit back and realize we allow these clubs and men to get away with things like this. Its so interesting because as far as women are concerned we are trophies , while you are lucky to even see a man in a suit. I think fashion in the club scenes need to change. We need to begin dressing for ourselves and what we like instead of a higher power controlling us, to the point we all look the same.We then lose a lot of our identity.
- Personal Account: A few years ago I worked a fashion show as someone who dressed the models back stage. The fashion show was hosted by Anne Hathaway in support of the women’s health organization. Both Anne and the Health organization are two extremely idolized and powerful institutions. The show was indeed for a good cause and had many influential people supporting. While back stage I was dressing a handful of women, who were arguably as thin as live skeletons. They were freezing, whiney, and completley uncomfortable. You could see all of their bones and make up artist kept coming by to rub their skin with oil so you couldn’t see how cold they really were. Many of the girls even had leftover remnets of cocaine still in their nasal. I was in shock to how people were coming to give money to raise for women’s health as they sat around and watched extremely unhealthy women as a show. It was mind blowing to me and from there I told myself I would never work another fashion show again.
- Tampon COmmercials and ads: Everytime I get my monthly period for at least one day I am absolutely worthless. And for most women this is a very similar experience. We ache, get bloated, and some often feel dizzy and neseus, hot, and unable to focus. At points I am often in so much pain I vomit. It is something only women can feel. From the beginning of time women were always proving their strength and that we can do whatever men can do and I understand that it would hurt a women’s credibility if she were to call out sick because of cramps, but why? They are very painful, its just one more thing a man has on us to make us unfit . These tampon commercials and ads have been feeding this idea that despite a period we still look beautiful, strong, and active. That there are obviously no painful, “ugly” sides to this monthly ordeal. I personally get so upset seeing these ads and commercials of women running, jumping, and looking extremely thin , out with friends, and smiling ear to ear. Because for most women, like I said for at least one day this is just not the case. I think these images we are constantly seeing about periods and tampons are targeted to make men feel comfortable, and these images are constantly being seen and this idea becomes permanent. Men would be so uncomfortable seeing a bloated, crying, women in fetal position on her bed. If that was the case, our women wouldn’t feel weak if they ever can’t do something while enduring these symptoms, and maybe men would start to respect us a little bit more if they knew the truth of what we go through, and still proceed to keep our image and get our work done.
- Mens suits have been a staple for mens fashion for decades. It represents business, respect,education, class, and status. For a long time women were not aloud to wear pants. The idea of the suit is a uniform and it comes with a sense of fashion etiquette. The idea of a mens suit is often money and power. As a society we look at the suit as a classic and statement uniform. But in this mens suits ad, I personally think fashion is violating women. The add focuses on the mens suit, by making sure the females are naked. I think the idea of the suit is now controlling women, and the image. That if a man is in a suit we are so far below them we don’t even have clothes, or that if faced with a man in a suit we become so submissive we then lose our garments. The idea this ad is trying to sell a suit with images of naked women is so degrading. These men get the idea that they must wear a suit in order to attain beautiful, long, oiled up legs, to stop in their tracks for them, and women are sold the idea that when a man is powerful and in a suit, we must succumb to this. Why don’t they show a women wearing a suit? Women wear suits. Because that would bridge the gap between women and men having the same amount of power. That men get jobs where they are to wear a suit, while women are just objects. Very dissapointed in this branding tactic by a mens suit ad.
5. Sisley cosmetic ad: In a Sisley cosmetic ad a women is portrayed as a victim to a bull. Sitting on the dirt floor, in all red, with her legs wide open in the middle of a bull arena. To me this is a photo that represents violence on women. We all know what happens when someone is wearing red in front of a bull, especially someone sitting helplessly on the floor. This is now a question of ethics and morals behind the brand and what exactly they are trying to sell. Brands have issues differentiating between creating an image and creating an identity. And the more we see this misused the more these images and messages become permanent.
- As a stylist I am to work a lon side photographers who relay to me what their vision is and how they want the aesthetic of the shoot to be. Lately I have been seeing a lot of mens clothing on women. But in most cases its with nothing else. Its this idea that wearing a mans shirt with nothing else if ” sexy.” That it gives a man a sense of entitlement, power, and ownership. That if men were trying to sell a flannel on a man it would be basic and normal, but on a women underneath naked it becomes a powerful and sexualized piece.
- Donna Karen ad: Is a perfect example of Simmel’s idea of objectification. That the people behind the creation of the ad took on its own ideas without thinking of the subjective culture. The idea behind subject and object, theirs a cultural subject and then their are objects. In this ad The beautiful lighter skinned model in the subject, she is sitting beautifully with a face of strength and power. On the other hand African women sit into the darkness as objects. Those objects then give the idea subconsciously that the lighter the skin the more adorned one becomes. That these African women are placed to show the power of the white women, that they are no longer humans. As a whole they are objects to tell a story. These african women are then objectified in the ad as things, and that soon becomes the identity of many people that continue to hold these ideas.White women are more powerful, and have a better class and status. This supports the idea of white privilege.