In a wonderful piece for Style.com, May Singer finds her feminism totally compatible with her career in fashion — and she tells the haters where they can go. Here are our highlights:
Really, the condescension some people direct at fashion is just unbearable. I’ve got a speech I trot out now, when someone throws shade on what I do, and it goes like this: We all have bodies; we all wear clothes; we all have reflections that vex us; we all exist in dynamic relationship to our communities, and fashion is a medium for testing or strengthening those bonds. It’s a vehicle for self-expression, and—to flex some of the old WomenSpeak patois—anyone who diminishes the significance of that is carrying water for the patriarchy, deferring reflexively to those thousands of years of human history when men got to decide what was frivolous or not. You know what’s frivolous? Fantasy football. Fashion is a multibillion-dollar industry that touches craft, identity, dreams, and art.
Feminism is not a matter of appearances. Feminism is about building a world where women—all of them—have the opportunity to live rich, satisfying lives. It’s about making women—again, all of them—safe from violence and other forms of coercion, and ensuring they have access to education, family planning including abortion and birth control, and careers wherein they are paid and promoted on par with men. Feminism isn’t about improving women’s self-esteem, it’s about giving proper value to the various kinds of work women do, on the clock or at home. It’s about restructuring our society such that youth, beauty, and sexual availability aren’t a woman’s most vital currency.