A Fashion Statement: fighting restrictive gender norms

yli is My Story

Expressing creativity had always been a difficult task for me. Although having a surplus of imagination, I was lost on how to apply my creative thinking in a productive way. It felt as though my mind was an encaged bird, desperate for freedom. However, through my fashion, I have found one of the greatest ways to express myself.

 Although I regularly receive peculiar looks from others, I take great pride in my appearance. The most important thing to me is my jewelry. I dress in excessive amounts of chains, rings, earrings, and bracelets. These accessories often hold meaning, such as a ring passed down to me belonging to my great-grandmother – she is the primary inspiration for my fashion. In addition to my jewelry, I find pleasure in wearing makeup. Although I am not very talented at it, applying something as simple as blush or eyeliner significantly boosts the confidence I have in my appearance.

Since I do not fit the societal standard on how people should appear, I frequently experience backlash. I regularly hear hurtful comments being directed towards me. Entering public spaces became a source of anxiety, as I have had objects thrown at me simply for wearing a dress. 

We often suppress individuality in our community, whether it’s through stating who may and may not wear makeup, or our restrictive gender roles. People find themselves trapped within a certain set of rules just to appease societal norms. This leads to people feeling much less confident in themselves and their bodies.

My great-grandmother was committed to fighting this. Despite living in the 1930s, she opposed society’s standards by publicly wearing a black and white suit, neatly decorated with a purple bow tie. Although deceased, she leaves behind a strong legacy – a legacy that tells us our differences should be appreciated, not hated. Every day I strive to continue my ancestor’s lifework of combatting the misogyny in our society. Whether it’s by wearing feminine clothing or applying make-up, I will ensure the bravery and courage she demonstrated will not be in vain. Through my fashion, I have found an impactful way to express my creativity while showing others that individuality is valuable.