Rena Niamh Smith unpicks fashion’s ambiguous relationship with gender, revealing how it relies on the labour of poor women, while both exploiting people’s insecurities and claiming to celebrate “empowerment”.
Every fashion show I’ve ever attended names “strong women” as inspiration in the show notes, whether the collection was conceptual art pieces, or micro dresses and four-inch heels.
Style can be empowering. Angela Davis’s afro was a bold, beautiful middle finger to the Eurocentric beauty standards imposed on black women, symbolic of systematic oppression of black people. Like music, style is an art and individual garments, or hairstyles, both hold aesthetic merit and operate in a wider, often political, trend.