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In the West, women have long been seen as consumers that marketers must both pander to and appeal to in order to generate profit. To do this, big business leans heavily on the human need and appetite for variety. When the market for new women's fashions becomes saturated the appetitie of the female consumer, particularly the young and fickle, becomes temporarily satieted and there is the terrible prospect for the marketers of the money stopping rolling in. So, what do they do? They ditch those new trends and they employ artists and fashion designers and celebrities to invent and be seen wearing something completely different. Today's teen empties out her wardrobe (or guiltily pushes the expensive stuff to the back!) and doesn't wear those once so highly prized hot new trends any more. They are So Last Season. They spend what little they have on next year's... Not every female does this of course, due to funds and parental guidance, but if money was no object many more would be 'fashion victims.'
I'm not sure what you're asking, exactly, but one way to think about this is to say that fashion is a means that society uses to define what it expects women to be. Women are expected to wear clothes that conform to the way society views them.
For example, in the United States, women are expected to be as sexually alluring as possible (you can argue this at least). Many women's fashions are designed with this idea in mind. Society also says that women are (again you can argue this) equal to men and free to do as they please. For this reason, women can wear any sort of clothing -- skirts, pants, dresses, whatever.
To many Westerners, Muslim fashion (in very traditional societies) shows that those societies believe that women are too attractive to men and must keep their beauty under wraps so men can control themselves. Many Westerners also say that this fashion shows the subordinate place of women in those societies.
Although it seems like a match made in heaven, fashion and women are only superficially attached.
Fashion is an industry like any other: Its mission and purpose is to sell. What do they sell? All the ideas produced by big time designers who create pieces on a flat piece of paper, and model it on perfectly-shaped and unnaturally proportioned mannequins.
After that, the final piece has to be shown to the world on the runway, worn by an equally surreal-looking model. The model, herself, comes from yet another industry whose mission is to sell an image for women to emulate....but, can they?
Caught in the middle is the typical woman, who does not look like a mannequin, nor like a model (for her industry is far removed from "ideals" and more connected to reality) not knowing what to make of those beautiful things shown by the designers and models, and looking at herself with a dual idea: That the fashion is too beautiful for her, or that she is not beautiful enough for the fashion.
Other women, however, might go for it, and spend outrageous amounts of money (guilty) to emulate the image presented to us in magazines and album covers.
The rest, just dream and wish they could get there some day.
So, in conclusion, although fashion and women seem like a couple of soul mates, there might be more dysfunction in that combination than we care to analyze.
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