Congratulations, You’re a Feminist

This past year I’ve seen more pro-feminism posts I’ve ever seen. It seems to be the peek of feminism, a new era of girl power. For those of you that might be singing “who run the world? Girls” right now in your head, hold your excitement. I’m not happy with this feminist movement. Here’s why.

The feminist movement is so incredibly dis-unified on SO many things, for today I’m going to start with one of the most popular – modesty. We’re split between those who are preaching modesty (AKA covering up every inch of your body) as true feminism, and those preaching about “being comfortable” in your body (AKA wearing basically no clothes). Both of these “feminist” views are so incredibly not feminist. We’ll start with the modesty argument.

Covering up your body does not make you a feminist. A new video is spreading like wildfire about a woman talking about bikinis, and how scientific studies show that dressing in bikinis can actually force a man to look at a woman as an object, not a person. I’m sure most of us, including me, never knew these facts before, and have started to doubt our wardrobe.

Now, I would’ve loved this video, if this woman had mentioned just one single sentence after she talked about the studies: “Women are not responsible for the way men think about them, no matter how they dress.” But she did not, therefore I will not buy her swimwear – no matter how cute it is. Dear woman and girls everywhere – please understand this. If you’re wearing a bikini, and a man looks at you like you’re an object to lust over, this is ABSOLUTELY NOT YOUR FAULT. You are NOT responsible for someone else’s thoughts. You are NOT responsible for their actions, either. No man is EVER allowed to tell you that you caused him to rape you because of what you wore. I’ll say it again, woman are not responsible, at all, even a little bit, for a man’s thoughts. If you are covering yourself up because you don’t want to tempt a man, or you’re afraid that they’ll look at you like an object, you are NOT being feminist.

Showing off your body, on the contrary, also doesn’t make you feminist. We see celebrities left and right showing up half naked in magazines, telling the world they aren’t going cover up or act a certain way just because culture tells them to. They call this “being comfortable with your body.” They’ve managed to change the culture from “cover yourself up” to “show yourself off”. Instead of reaching a happy middle, the culture’s pressure on your clothing has done a 180. Almost every fashion store you go into, there are racks and racks of short shorts and mini skirts. For many of us, we’ve experienced how uncomfortable with our bodies we get in this clothing that supposedly shows how “comfortable with our bodies” we are. It is nearly impossible to find anything longer and fashionable at the same time. There’s so much pressure to show, and so much false power built up behind showing, that forces women to believe that “Girl Power” is showing off your body.

Wearing short clothing because that’s what the culture is pressuring you into does not make you a feminist. You are not an anti-feminist just because you don’t want to wear short or tight things. You don’t need to show how “comfortable with your body” you are if you’re actually uncomfortable with showing it off. Don’t let this “less is more” culture change your own fashion sense into what they want. Wearing short, tight, or sexy things do NOT make you a feminist.

Let me tell you what “Girl Power” and feminism truly are in the world of fashion. It isn’t covering up, it isn’t showing off. Being a feminist is about being comfortable with who you are. And I’m not talking about the supposed comfortable that celebrities talk about. It’s about being comfortable with your body, and comfortable with what you’re wearing, whether that be a full-length gown with sleeves or a tight, low-cut cocktail dress. You can be “immodest” or “modest” and still have “Girl Power”. If you are comfortable in a bikini, wear a bikini. Once again, I can’t stress this enough, you are NOT responsible for what a man thinks about you. You cannot control their brains. If you are not comfortable in a bikini, don’t feel pressured to wear one. Wear what you feel comfortable in.

For the longest time I tried to fit into both “feminist” extremes – when I lived in the states, I wore bikinis and short shorts because that’s what culture told me to wear. I was not comfortable in either of those. I constantly pulled my shorts down, and constantly hid my body with my arms while in a bikini. I wish I could go back and lecture myself about how being feminist doesn’t mean showing off, and given myself something else to wear. I could barely enjoy my time at the beach because I felt so incredibly uncomfortable with how much skin was showing.

On the other hand, I’ve also felt pressure to look a certain way in Honduras. While it is important to dress a certain way here in respect to their beliefs and values, it is also important to be comfortable in your own skin. I’ve been told by some women here that I need to dress conservatively, that the men here will rape me with their eyes. I’ve had my dresses pulled down, I’ve had “helpful advice” thrown at me. It’s been a rough, offensive, hurtful environment at times. This kind of pressure isn’t alright, either, and I’ve come to the realization that if I’m happy and comfortable in what I wear and as long as I’m not offending or disregarding the values of the majority of the people here –  I don’t and won’t need to change my style. If I feel like something is too short on me, I won’t wear it. If I feel like my chest is too bare, I’ll cover it. If I’m uncomfortable, then those clothes won’t be worn. However, if I’m comfortable, I will wear those clothes and no matter what’s told to me, I won’t change it. There, of course, is importance in respecting another country’s culture, which does slightly change what I would wear compared to the states, but all-in-all I am very comfortable with what I wear here and do not feel as if I am offending anyone’s values.

Please, girls, ladies, women, dress for YOU. Dress for your level of comfort, dress for your style. 

Look at your wardrobe today. Are you comfortable in those clothes? Did you buy those clothes because you like them, because they make you feel good? Look at what you’re wearing now. Are you comfortable in it? Is it what you want to be wearing? If so – congratulations, fashion-wise, you are a feminist. 

Be the woman you want to be, dress the woman you want to be, and with it will come your own sense of “Girl Power”.