Impracticality in Women’s Clothing

Impracticality in Women’s Clothing

Clothing has always been an essential part in human development. Even Neanderthals of Prehistoric Earth have been reported to wear them. Of course, clothing does more than just keep us decent. In more modern times, they’ve become a form of self-expression and a symbol of class. Yet amongst all this, there are still so many issues with clothes for women and the talk that surrounds them.

Childhood years should be spent playing and running around, but from what I’ve observed with my 10 year old sister, most school uniforms don’t allow this. The boys uniforms consist of long or short pants, and for her school the only options they have for girls is to either wear a dress or culottes (which are very wide pants that end at the knee). Both of these have restricted girls in activities because of their impracticality. Rather than just allowing the girls to be able to wear the boys pants, the school went out of their way to manufacture a whole new product, and for what?

Recently I have fallen victim to the dreaded sexualised shoulder. Luckily I wasn’t reprimanded too heavily, however for an honour roll student in America, wearing a top that exposed her shoulder is what stopped her from attending graduation. To try and amend the situation she had borrowed a friend’s jacket so that her shoulders were no longer visible but the principal still refused to let her in stating that it wasn’t good enough and if she didn’t go and change she wouldn’t be able to graduate. There is nothing inherently sexual about shoulders so what’s the issue? This happens all over the world. Girls are being given detentions and are being sent home because the school board has ruled shoulders offensive.

Clothing problems go further than schools though, clothing companies are largely to blame when talking about impracticality. Pockets are a main fault. They’re either big enough for keys and maybe a lolly of sorts, or they’re fake. This started becoming an issue once the public became more fixated on the shape of a woman’s body. Anything that could disrupt the curvature of such was ruled not okay, therefore pockets started to diminish because in a tighter fitting article of clothing having a bulky pocket causes the shape to change. 

But clothing companies not only ruined pockets for us, they also changed the type of clothing they sell. Items became smaller. Crop-tops for all ages, shorter dresses, skirts, shorts and more. This is all fine, but the public forgot how to act and started to criticise more girls because of it. A vicious cycle occurred. The only type of clothes being sold were either small or tight, but in the meantime young girls were being told they were dressing too sexual for their age. It’s hypocritical to market these types of clothes to younger girls and then say that they’re dressing too old for their age. Which leads me to my last point.

The rape culture that surrounds clothing is ridiculous. Clothing is not an excuse for rape or sexual assult, and yet survivors still hear the question: 

“What were you wearing?” 

This is harmful for many reasons but the main fault is that it blames the victim. If someone had said they were wearing a crop top, would that excuse the traumatic event? No. There is no excuse for rape and yet people still to this day ask that dreaded question. The thing is that clothing isn’t even a reason for rape to begin with. In Egypt 96.5% of women have said they’ve bee touched sexually, while 99.3% say they’ve been sexually harassed including verbally. This is a country where 85-95 percent of their population is muslim, meaning nearly all the women who’ve been sexually assaulted were hijabis, niqabis or were completely veiled for modesty. This is like saying I like Nigerian food even though I’ve never had it before. It’s a baseless claim to say clothing is a reason for sexual assault.

We live in a time where clothing and preference of style is so diverse, yet there’s a common theme of problems amongst the clothing for women. Whether it be issued uniforms, personal items or the stigma against women’s clothing, there will always be talk. I don’t want to have to live in a world where it’s taboo to show my shoulders, or to have to bring bags everywhere I go because my pockets can’t even hold my bus card. I don’t want to live in a world where unsuitable clothing is being sold by greedy companies. I don’t wanna live in a world where I’m not even able to be comfortable in a school setting because the uniforms are supposed to make me look feminine. I just want to wear whatever and be comfortable and sure that no hiccups will occur. 

I’m a 14 year old girl based in Auckland, New Zealand. I have lived here my entire life and this has exposed me to a world of feminism early on. New Zealand is a very powerful country in terms of gender equality, with currently two women at the top of the political world. From a young age I have been taught that I could do anything if I put my mind to including predominantly male activities and careers, it had struck me bizarre that other girls my age across the world weren’t told the same things as me. Through SHEQUALITY I hope that girls and boys alike can learn that they are able to achieve anything if they try, that gender stereotypes should not be an excuse to stop pursuing their dreams.