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How Does Fashion Empower Women?

Fashion: A Silent Language of Empowerment and Rebellion

Fashion For Empowerment - Journey And Transformation
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How did fashion become an instrument for women to empower themselves and each other? it is intriguing to see how, throughout history, fashion has reshaped women’s position in this society. In different parts of the globe, we come across different mannerisms of clothing for women, which is not only an indicator of different cultures but also represents women’s position in society. Their clothing choices are a symbol of empowerment and independence.

On this Women’s Day, let’s explore how fashion has been a strong weapon for women's empowerment. This silent language of self-expression plays the role of a bold statement of rebellion, fashion is not harmless, not for the societal boundaries created to limit women.

History and Future of Fashion

Historically, fashion served as a marker of social standing and obligations, specifically for women. Victorian corsets and silhouettes used to symbolize limitations on women’s mobility and agency are now the articles to be worn for their aesthetic appearance, this time by choice. I always thought women looked gorgeous in those corsets and somehow their bodies always seemed magnificent, and later found out how those were designed to be that way, combined with discomfort. Overtime, these corsets also played a role in causing deformation in women’s bodies. The oppressive obsession of making women look pretty, limiting them, and hiding their discomfort, how outrageous!

However, women have always challenged those norms through fashion, let it be the 1920s Flappers subculture, known for their bobbed hair and shorter hemlines, or the cultural influence in women’s clothing in India, we all have adapted bold fashion statements with free choice.

When it comes to Indian clothing, it holds strong cultural and regional significance. However, Indian women are also using fashion to express their individuality with a mix of Western influences. In creative ways, we have not only preserved our traditions but also by doing so, we have showcased to the world how change can be as simple as pairing a modern sari with sneakers.

Fashion has always been a very creative field, unlike the stereotypes related to it being about looking good and limited to women, today’s generation has a different view of it. Today, fashion is a very inclusive term, which defines the skill of sending a message with it, using its potential to express individual identities. Fashion has always proven itself to be a powerful tool of resistance, allowing women to empower and change the narratives. The growth and empowerment journey of Indian women can be seen just by comparing the mannerisms of wearing the same Indian sarees a few decades back and now.

Fashion as Self-Expression

Fashion As Self-Expression
Fashion As Self-Expression
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When we bring up the topic of fashion, either in India or internationally, it presents a new perspective, especially for women than it did back then. In today's world, fashion allows women to communicate their individuality, their particular cultures as well as the values they hold in their wardrobe decision. It can be as simple as expressing one's personality through the fusion of brightly colored patterns with variable contemporary shapes or drawing on cultural symbols as their source of inspiration.

Moreover, it has played a crucial role for marginalized groups who have been denied the freedom to express their identities freely. In today’s times, fashion is more affordable than ever, which affects its accessibility. The articles holding traditional values and social messages are appreciated worldwide with respect, helping many marginalized communities by providing them the chance to be heard.

Body Positivity and Fashion

Body Positivity And Fashion
Body Positivity And Fashion
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One of the major ways how fashion contributes to the women's empowerment journey is through the medium of promoting body positivity. It helps women to feel confident in response to the unrealistic standards set by society. Whether it is about expressing their personalities in a better way or the selection of the right pantsuit for a corporate role, fashion boosts one’s self-esteem. They get dressed up to showcase their bold style and attitude, thus encouraging dressing in accordance with one’s specific body type and personality.

Fashion and Change

The power of fashion extends beyond self-expression. It fosters a sense of community and belonging. Shared fashion selections are more than just wardrobe choices, they help women discover the bond they all share as a result of their common experiences. They establish solidarity among the group and a means to discuss ideas and express grievances collectively. Thus, this has ensured the empowerment of collective voices like the "Me Too" movement where people across the communities wore black and this indicated their strength to fight against sexual assault and harassment. It can accordingly provide an effective impulse for social development. Sustainable fashion movements use clothing as a tool to advance knowledge about the condition of the planet and the ethical way of manufacturing.

Fashion with a message

Fashion with a message
Fashion with a message
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Fashion is not confined to beauty only. It is the medium through which you can express yourself and convey your messages about what values you hold as a human being. Fashion is a form of expression to convey thoughts, spread understanding, and be an agent of change for Indian women. Many Indian women have been using their style as a platform to address topics, that they believe are worth fighting for.

Aishwarya Sharma started a blog called Figuramoda in her college days. She observed that fashion can also be an effective tool for social activism. She has worked with many NGOs such as Stop Acid Attacks, Help Age India, Water Aid, Save Rural India, Domestic Violence Relief, and Rehabilitation programs. She too engages in an active campaign to advocate for women's rights. In addition to this, Sharma created an Instagram Filter on gender equality and feminism to engage popular celebrities, bloggers, and influencers in considering the gender inequalities across India and the world.

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Fashion designers like Uma Prajapati (Upasana Studio), Kriti Tula (Dudeledge), and Odisha's designers Lipsa Hembram (Galang & Gabaan) and Pankaja Sethi fearlessly question and work on the solution to the emerging problems in modern India including sea pollution, cotton farmers' distress, waste management, and preservation of tribal art.

And the Takeaways...

On Women's Day, we take time to acknowledge the diverse means women use to channel their fashion as a powerful tool of self-liberation. They have taken it into their own hands to rewrite their stories by wanting to say something through self-expression by bringing communities together as well as advocating for change to build a better society where women have equal rights to men.

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Let us look forward and allow for the growth of the influence of style as one of the means to self-discovery, collective action, and social activism. Let us wear our stories with pride and use fashion to empower ourselves and each other.

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