By Tammy Sutherns
The most wonderful thing about being a woman is being able to express yourself in your own way. I’m a words kind of a girl, so my expression often comes out in my writing. I also love photography, but I’m still a bit too much of a newbie to use it confidently enough to express myself. My mom is an artist and she likes to spend her time finding peace in her paintings. Other women are more extroverted and show who they are by telling, talking, explaining. Some may sing and others may play an instrument. But the most common thing for all of us – whether you’re a jeans and sneakers trend-setter or a high-heels and dress wearer – is fashion.
I’m not writing about fashion because I believe that we should all be obsessed with material things, quite the opposite actually. I also am not a big fan of malls and I physically feel ill at overindulgent splurging while thousands of kids starve in Somalia. My favourite clothes are dresses that I’ve found in vintage stores for a hundred bucks and a belt I got for R5 from a charity store. I also think that supporting local (when affordable) is lekker.
But nothing is better than feeling so comfortable in your clothes, revelling in items that you’ve put together that feel like a complete extension of who you are. I think that as women, it also gives us a chance to give conformity the middle finger, tell tradition that we are making up our own rules and to reaffirm that our bodies are ours and nobody else’s. And I think clothes carry a lot more weight than we like to believe.
White wedding dresses, for example, became an icon for marriage and purity not because this was a traditional religious practice, but because Queen Victoria (quite the fashion icon in her area) wore a white wedding dress in 1840 and it became a fashion hit, albeit a long one. However what a wedding dress symbolizes today is something far different than a fashion statement and far more symbolic. What we wear is important.
The way that we present ourselves tells a story of who we are. I think this gives us room to tell such beautiful stories about ourselves. We do not have to defend our short skirts, but further than that, we also should be celebrating how individuality, our femininity and our inner selves, are represented by our clothes. The more we revel in what makes us feel comfortable, the more confident we are to go out into the world and tackle oppression, poverty, pain, inequality and suffering the only way we know how – with grace, beauty and some kick-ass unique flavour.