One thing that pisses me off about, well, every day life is our obsession with this bizarre enigma we refer to as “fashion”. Being “fashionable” or “well-dressed” is an important part to any publicly active and successful being, at least in America and other First World countries. We are so caught up in appearances and aesthetics in literally every perspective of life that it completely consumes us. The feeling of social security we get from meeting self-imposed visual standards becomes the lifeblood to maintaining our self-esteem. One faltering moment and our confidence is undermined. But how did we ever come to rely on such meaningless concepts as “fashion”? And who became the judge of it anyway?
I personally believe “fashion” and “aesthetics” derive from ancient practices. Thousands of years ago, monarchies and religious rulings determined that women should be covered in a certain way, and men had to dress appropriately to complete their daily chores (hence their use of pants for convenience). This is perhaps the point from which our fashion “stigmas” arose: we placed expectations on certain groups of people’s dress and manner, and some of this developed into class distinction. Although we have long struggled to destroy the hierarchy of class, we as citizens continue to fuel the fire by dressing, acting, and buying in means we can’t necessarily afford just to display some false vibrato. Who are we kidding? Well, no one cares. You’ve got to learn to keep up in today’s world; that means little time for thinking.
Now, where did aesthetics come into play? You know, designing your house in a certain way. Discerning a certain status via style and – often – false impression. I think this too has a cultural root. Tradition plays an important part in all societies and, although ancient peoples did not necessarily spend superfluously to impress visitors that they didn’t have, they did hold on to the style and ways of their people. It’s a defining thing. It’s art. It started as an activity, it blossomed into a form, and then it launched into this pressuring hell of subjectivity. Elements from different cultures that were found attractive by others were adapted and preserved. Then with events like the Silk Road introducing trade and global awareness, people started wanting these “finer things”. It’s always for some kind of façade. Suddenly, these “different ways of doing things” collided, were compared side-by-side, assessed, improved, developed… Aesthetics – and fashion – … It has all become a form of expression in which one A) strives to meet certain standards, B) tries to perfect those standards, and C) often next struggles to exceed those standards through either perfection of a form or through discovery of a breathtakingly new concept.
But now that we have developed into this modern world of fashion and interior design, who actually lays down the rules for what is “good” and what is “acceptable”? How do you define “cool”? While some trends and shades invoke emotions and sensations that are pleasing and understandably desired, some trends are absolutely horrendous and distasteful. Yet they’re still successful. So who is trying to convince our instincts otherwise?
Apparently, there are people who “decide” these things. For example, the non-profit group called the Color Marketing Group. These people literally sit around and say, Oh, people last year like these shades and these trends, so we’re going to base next year off of this and then revamp an old selection that was successful in past years. These people teeter between appeal and experiment, between satisfied customer and satisfied vendor. They argue that the customer, ultimately, makes the decision of what is “fashionable” because the next year’s trends off of what was and what wasn’t popular in the past. My argument? That’s not completely true because I don’t feel like I am deciding anything. I’ve grown up in this world where clothes are already stocked, I had to select from those stocked things, and my selections were not always satisfactory. Besides, I really do believe people’s tastes revolve mostly around models and celebrities. People idolize people. If a tween sees Miley Cyrus in yoga pants, she thinks that’s the coolest thing and buys a pair. Some of the racier trends on the Red Carpet? Check out a night club. I’m sorry, CMG, but I still think you’re snobs.
Then there’s reality TV. Fashion shows. Best Dressed and otherwise. I never agree with them. For example, America’s Next Top Model…Tyra Banks…acting like a snooty fashionista expert of sorts and why? Because she was a model? Oh, please. Some of the things she wears and does make me sick to my stomach. More than half the time my tastes conflict entirely with this snobbish “fashion world”, and yet it controls so many factors of our lives.
How about that show where you dress people in better clothes to improve their self-esteem? The problem usually lies in their bodies and how they perceive themselves inwardly, not in how they dress. It’s true though: While I tend to critique the critics, there are definitely some fashion lines that I don’t cross. Those lines are usually “tacky”, “slobbish”, and “risqué”, lines that are painfully crossed quite often by people on this show, perhaps in oblivion. But, in that case, I think a slap across the face would suffice. Why arrange some exorbitant shopping spree with some presumptuous gay – or maybe straight – man critiquing a simpleton’s underclassed fashion sense with some flamboyant accent as if he were gay? Half the time I want to shout, People, if you want to help her out, tell her to go on a diet! It’s not just how you dress. You can’t cover it all up. Fashion is no band-aid to true inner problems. That self-esteem comes from within, it comes from a confidence in your body and your health. E.g., paint your face all you want, if you still view yourself as ugly without it, you’ll just feel broken and constantly haunted without the facade of makeup. In other words, that show really sums up my feelings on how we put too much faith in fashion and these alleged “experts”.
I just wish we weren’t such a sheep society. I’m not sure where we went wrong, but our need to be on top lets us lose our sanity and drain our wallets to attain personal expectations and social standards. I think it makes us more miserable than it does happy. And you want to know what the funny thing is? I think one of the happiest animals I’ve ever seen in a belly-sliding, snow-covered little penguin… and penguins don’t wear clothes!! Lesson learned.