Athleisure and the Fashionable Feminist
Posted on June 08 2016
In my posts I tend to mention grad school a lot. Until recently, I was working on my Master’s degree from George Washington in American studies. During both my graduate and undergraduate coursework in the field at GW, I focused much of my attention and research on feminist theory in modern cultural complexes.
Because of my educational background, I can’t help but critique every cultural product around me. Mention the Kardashians and I will give you an earful about what they mean to American culture today! Want to talk about The Hunger Games? Because I do! As fitness and athleticism has always been such an important part of my life, the rise of the strong is the new skinny movement and the popularity of the athleisure trend spark my interest from a deeply intellectual perspective.
The new trend for women to dress like they can, and maybe are, going to go workout isn’t about what makes us look sexy to men, women, or ourselves. It’s not about propriety, social queues, or gender normativity. It is about being proud of what we can do as women. I am proud that I can keep up with the tap-back song at Soul Cycle, then hit a barre class in the same day. I’m proud that when I had to move apartments, I could breakdown, lift, transport, and put my bed back together again without the help of anyone. I’m proud that I am able. What my leggings and coobie bra help me tell the world, is that I am proud of the independence that my body has given me.
I could go into the history of corsets, high heels, the advent of women wearing denim in the factories during World War II, but
A) I don’t have the time or character count and
B) I’m here to talk about today.
While people lament about the laziness of millennials, some have pointed to this leggings-to-class look as a prime example of our apathy for the world around us.
I disagree though.
Rather than hiding behind layers of devices meant to make our bodies look like they fit into a perfect mold of contemporary beauty standards, women today are using moisture-wicking spandex to show off the bodies they’ve worked for, imperfections and all.
Sure, they’re just clothes. But what my education in cultural politics and feminism have taught me, is that clothes are never just clothes. Fashion is a reflection of the ideals of a population at a moment in time. At this moment in time, fashion reflects what we all know: we can do anything. I put myself at risk for sounding too much like Cher Horowitz, but why not look good while we do it?