A few weeks ago I blogged my thoughts on the outrageous amount of media attention placed on female Inauguration Day fashion. I was adamant that women including myself want to be recognized for more than their clothes and I still stand by those sentiments. What I didn’t elaborate on is the way that fashion can be used to tell a powerful story about the woman underneath.
I’m a huge fan of the Academic Feminist on Feministing.com. (Check that shit out, because it’s awesome. That’s about as eloquent as I’m going to get on a Monday.) Today’s post introduced readers to Tanisha C. Ford, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a pioneer in what she describes as “Haute Couture Intellectualism.” Her work explores the intersection of fashion and social activism, especially in the instance of women of color. Also, she’s writing a book! It’s called Liberated Threads: Black Women and the Politics of Adornment. I’ve included a sample of Tanisha’s comments on how her manuscript in progress came to be:
I realized that the way that black women activists like my mother dressed mattered because their bodies were contested spaces. My interest in these stylish women sent me on a quest to understand how and why they adorned themselves in this way. Were they alone? If not, who were the other women who dressed similarly? What influenced their sartorial choices?
It’s almost like women throughout history have made a conscious effort when dressing themselves that included thoughts other than, “How hot do I look in this skirt?” After blogging about Michelle Obama’s Inauguration Day dresses, her brand new bangs, and reading about derogatory comments made by an Alabama high school teacher, I believe it is incredibly important to address the deeply controversial issues involved with women of color, fashion, and body politics. Tanisha hasn’t only focused on the racial implications of fashion, but also fashion in regards to queer issues. Check out this piece that introduces student perspectives on queer fashion and embodied activism.
As a member of the digital generation and a dedicated (Not obsessed. I did not say obsessed.) user of social media I’m intrigued by the way women are using technology for activism. Tanisha has a strong online presence: she tweets under the handle @SoulistaPhD and writes for The Feminist Wire. See? She is just one example that proves women can be strong, smart, independent, feminist, and interested in fashion.
Here is one more article on feminists who love clothes and how they deal with the backlash. Check out the original Academic Feminist post here for more links and the full conversation with Tanisha C. Ford.