Take Up Space: How to Wear Your Feminism
Despite the rapid advancement of women in the past century, gender equality still remains one of the biggest societal challenges across the world. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, it will take 108 years to close the gender gap across the economic, political empowerment, education and health indexes, with men still claiming more opportunities in financial services, land ownership, literacy and education than women.
Still, advancement is occurring before our eyes each day, with six in 10 women and one-third of men defining themselves as a feminist. The majority—63 percent, to be exact—of young women aged 18 to 34 identify as either a strong feminist or a feminist. Part of that is because of the empowerment factor—70 percent of people say feminism is empowering—and because it has become such an important part of the daily conversation and what we think about, talk about and wear each day.
One of the best ways to show your feminism and support the movement as a relevant and crucial one, is to wear it (quite literally) on your sleeve. Here are some ways to wear your feminism.
- Take Up Space—Wearing your feminism isn’t just about the clothes or accessories you wear. It’s also about the permissions you give yourself and, in turn, the message you send to others. Taking up space is about recognizing your own personal right to speak up unapologetically, to pursue your goals, to have opinions and to resist the urge to make yourself smaller because, frankly, that’s what girls are taught to do. There’s also a physical element to taking up space—standing tall, making your voice heard and giving off an authority that speaks louder than any feminist shirt ever could!
- Wear Clothes with a Message—Still, there’s nothing wrong with overtly sporting your feminism gear, because we all feel pretty badass wearing our “This Is What a Feminist Looks Like” T-shirt or a pair of feminist socks! Whether you go subtle or scream it out loud, sporting feminist apparel is a fun way to feel like every day is mission-driven, even if you’re just running errands or having brunch with friends. Some of our fave pieces of wearable feminism at the moment are these Ruth Bader Ginsburg-inspired socks and this “Destroy the Patriarchy” tee from CHNGE.
- Support Female-Run Brands—If you’re not huge on literally wearing your feminism on your sleeve, buy apparel from one of the feminist-founded companies producing quality apparel with a more subtle, baked-in empowerment factor. Mindful, fashion-forward shoppers will want to consider truly feminist clothing brands like Va Va Lingerie, Everlane, Title Nine and other companies that support female empowerment by hiring women, supporting women and giving to female-focused charities.
- Wear Feminist Jewelry—Another subtle way to show your feminism without plastering it across your graphic tee is to wear a piece of girl power inspired jewelry every day. Whether it’s a delicate bracelet with a message that reads “The Future Is Female” or an enamel pin honoring RGB, Oprah, Frida Kahlo, a uterus or a pack of birth control pills, there’s a subtle or bold piece of empowering jewelry out there to celebrate your specific brand of feminism. Every woman needs a pair of female symbol earrings, we think.
- Support Charitable Businesses—One of the best ways to wear your feminism is to shop with companies that give back to organizations that help support the advancement of women and girls. These days, most large companies support some charitable giving, and you can usually find out which causes they support by browsing their website and social media pages. Look for charitable companies that donate to female-focused organizations on both the local and national scale throughout the year.
- Break Dress Codes—OK, we’re not saying you should go and get fired or anything, so definitely pick and choose when you want to exercise this one. While there are tons of actually sensible dress codes out there designed to keep facilities and schools hygienic and safe, there are also a whole lot of them that exist to protect men or to needlessly sexualize women’s bodies. You can use the Oregon NOW Model Student Dress Code to determine whether or not your code is sexist. It states that students should be able to “dress comfortably for school without fear of or actual unnecessary discipline or body shaming” and emphasizes that students and staff are responsible for managing their own personal “distractions.”
- Express Yourself with Your Clothing—Don’t let society or those around you dictate what it means to dress according to any specific set of gender rules. If you’re a woman and you want to shave your head—do it! If you’re a diehard feminist who also loves makeup, glitter and tutus—be that! Being a feminist is about being true to yourself, setting your own rules and not apologizing for the things you love to wear. Remember that feminism is genderless and that both men and women can and should be feminists.
- Don’t Forget the Feminist Accessories—Looking for a way to infuse some girl power into literally every outfit, even your work uniform or a pantsuit? Consider investing in a few feminist accessories, such as scarves, socks, handbags, buttons and watches that pile on the empowerment. Double-down on the feminism potential when you grab some pro-women accessories as gifts for all your favorite badass ladies.
Wearing What Empowers You
The most important thing you can do when dressing as a feminist is to wear what makes you feel the most empowered and comfortable. The fact of the matter is that we still have a long way to go as women and as a society, but consciously wearing your feminism on your sleeve is a great way you can passively support female advancement each and every day.