In Feminist Fashion

"A girl should be two things:

Who and what she wants."

-Coco Chanel

Often, women are told what to look like based on the ideals of someone else - generally men, or "non-feminist" women. However, when it comes to fashion, the rules are where it all begins. You take the rules and you throw them out the window. The "rules" of fashion have been broken time and time again to give birth to a renaissance of designs. Feminism has had a strong impact on runways and magazine covers recently, and rightfully so. We are also seeing a splash of strong women of color on the runways by the likes of Aurora James and her line Brother Vellies, as well as Studio 189 by actress Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah. Studio 189 partners with artisans in Ghana to produce African-inspired clothing. 

The rule-breaking starts with you, me and the people around us. Feminism isn't limited to women, either. Men, women, and transgender individuals alike are fighting for equality. And they're taking a stance with their clothing. Some take a more serious approach, while others use laughter and comedy to teach a lesson in her-story. 

I have the pleasure of knowing quite a few feminists. Female, male, and transgender, they all have one thing in common - they're fighting for equality. Making sure the female voice is heard. I got to ask them a few questions about their feminism and its role in their day-to-day style. 


Our Feminists

*Subjects maintained ability to decline any question(s)*


Shannon Kathleen Dugan 

Shannon Kathleen Dugan is a strong female voice in the Phoenix/Tucson community. Dugan is currently a student at University of Arizona in the Political Science program. She is a registered Democrat, and if you've been to rallies or the polling stations, you've seen her waving her signs and encouraging others, especially females, to vote! Shannon Kathleen Dugan plans to use her degree to become an elected official or campaign manager with a progressive platform, particularly equality and women's rights.

1. What is one article of clothing that makes you feel strong and why?

"I think a lot of my clothes make me feel really strong. I wear a lot of patterns (I own a disproportionate amount of black and white stripes) and I like to accent my neutrals with pops of pink or green, and usually my gold school bag. I like layering button ups under sweaters a lá J. Crew because it makes me feel like I have my sh*t together."

2. What do you think is the most "stereotypically feminist" article of clothing you own?

"I think the most stereotypically feminist shirt I own (I own quite a few) is my "A Woman's Place Is in the House and Senate" shirt. Every time I've worn it I've received compliments on it."

3. What is the most comical feminist article of clothing you own?

"The funniest feminist article of clothing I own has got to be my Leslie Knope shirt. At the center, she's pictured sitting at her desk smiling. Directly above and below her are floral banners that say "Ovaries Before Brovaries". I wore it to a rally last week and everyone loved it."

4. Who is your feminist style icon?

"Nailing down one feminist style icon is hard. I love Yara Shadihi and Rowan Blanchard. They're a few years younger than I am and already infinitely more stylish and intelligent! Ruth Negga, Gina Rodriguez, Priyanka Chopra. I have to give it to Jessica Day from New Girl, played by the wonderful Zooey Deschanel. I can't remember the exact quote but at one point in the show she basically said "yeah, I wear a lot of polka dots and I've touched glitter today but that doesn't mean I'm not smart and tough and strong." I love the quote and I feel the same way!"

Zach Heltzel

Next, Zach Heltzel. Another character I met in high school! This guy has some pretty interesting accomplishments under his belt in recent years. Zach runs a popular, verified twitter page. He has also become quite well known in the area for his Podcast series Zetus LapodcastHeltzel is most noted in being blunt, and hysterically honest about basically everything. He speaks out frequently about social issues, including feminism. He is quoted as saying "It's sad that the first woman to accept a major party's presidential nomination did so in my lifetime. It should have happened decades sooner."

1. What is one article of clothing that makes you feel strong and why?

"I have this old, somewhat tattered black V-neck that manages to pull off a Herculean optical illusion that makes me look bigger, and smaller, in all the right places. In addition to it making me *look* stronger, the feeling of self-actualization it gives me is very empowering."

2/3. What do you think is the most "stereotypically feminist" article of clothing you own? What is the most comical feminist article of clothing you own?

"My most stereotypically feminist article of clothing I own is also my most comedic. Comedian Sara Schaefer and artist Camila Galaz sell this delightful shirt on her website that says MEN AREN'T FUNNY in big, bold, handdrawn letters. As a man who is ostensibly a comedian, I am constantly confronted with the reality that there are so many women who are so much better than me at making people laugh. The idea, spread by men, that "women aren't funny" is one of the most blatant representations of myriad issues women still face regarding equality and fairness."

4. Who is your feminist style icon?

"My feminist style icon as a kid was Diane Keaton. She notably, with plenty of help from others at the time, turned conventionally masculine clothing into something universally considered cute. My idea of feminist style is style uninhibited by gender binary. I dress fairly conservatively - I'm not what you would call a trendsetter - but I'm profoundly apathetic about whether or not something I wear is considered acceptable for a cisgender male. Feminism helps pave the way for people to wear what they want without judgment from the chronically silly." 

RebeccaLynn Gualtieri

First up in the hot seat is RebeccaLynn Gualtieri. We met as angsty teens in the theatre program at our high school. We clicked because of RebeccaLynn's generous use of sarcasm. Since high school, she has traveled to multiple cities and states, soaking up the culture. Currently, Gualtieri resides in Boston, where she writes, performs her poetry, and speaks out for equality.  

1. What is one article of clothing that makes you feel strong and why?

"...probably my dashiki, I got it at an artist's market where a woman from Kenya sells a lot of traditional African items. It makes me feel connected to a culture I often feel distanced from." 

2. What do you think is the most "stereotypically feminist" article of clothing you own?

"...all the bras I own but refuse to wear (they make me uncomfortable, and I don't feel like they're what I want on my body, they're constricting, and I've always felt like they're something I've been forced to wear)." 

3. What is the most comical feminist article of clothing you own?

"...probably my wonder woman costume haha." 

4. Who is your feminist style icon?

"I honestly can't say I have one, I really dress for comfort. Probably Angela Davis, I love turtlenecks and my natural hair."

Brittany Morehouse

A recent graduate of Arizona State University with a double major in Global Studies and Anthropology and a minor in Women and Gender Studies. A feminist from the moment she entered the world, Brittany Morehouse uses her voice to educate those around her. During the Women's March, she was making protest signs for all of her friends! One of the best being a drawing of the Notorious RBG (Ruth Bader Ginsburg) flipping the bird! Brittany Morehouse is actually the reason that I am a feminist! She breaks it all down, and within minutes you wonder how you ever thought differently!

1. What is one article of clothing that makes you feel strong and why?

"I would say my skinny jeans (my personal favorite: darkwash American eagle leggings). I spent years hating my legs: that my calves always seemed too thick, how my thighs squished out whenever I sat down, the cellulite on the back of my legs. I never used to wear tight pants for fear of revealing my secret to the world: I have an ass! Thanks to a few body-positive individuals in the media and a lot of self discovery, I have come to love my booty and curvy thighs. My skinny jeans make me feel like a badass because I don't feel the need to hide my body anymore." 

2. What do you think is the most "stereotypically feminist" article of clothing you own?

I don't think any item of clothing can be "stereotypically feminist" or even really "feminist" for that matter. To me, being a feminist means wearing whatever you damn well please, and empowering others to do the same. But if I had to pick something I own that brings out my inner Gloria Steinem, I'd have to say my go-to "Girl Power" t shirt.

3. What is the most comical feminist article of clothing you own

*Brittany Morehouse decided not to answer this question, but gave an insightful explaination:

"...I didn't really know how to answer the the question about a "comically feminist" article of clothing. Like I said in my first answer, It's kind of an odd question. And sort of trivializes the principles of feminism into something that can be stuck on a funny t-shirt."

4. Who is your feminist style icon?

"Iskra freaking Lawrence. Massive girl crush. She's hilarious, down-to-earth, and stylish as hell. Plus, she once posted a photo of herself laying in a giant pile of junk food to stick it to body-shamers criticizing her weight. She's a super cool person and uses her position to promote a healthy body image."

"What is important in a dress is the woman who is wearing it."

- Yves Saint Laurent

The fashion industry is famous for degrading women. But these days, females are taking back the runways. We are finally seeing curvy women grace the stages of fashion week. But, we still have a ways to go. Us Magazine is quoted as calling more full figured models from the NYFW shows "real women." But that criminalizes models like Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid, who are slimmer. That is the opposite of feminism. The entire Fashion Industry needs to be embracing women, all women, of all shapes and sizes.

We must stay strong and persist. We need more individuals like RebeccaLynn Gualtieri, Zach Heltzel, Shannon Kathleen Dugan and Brittany Morehouse. Feminism is the future.

If you aren't a feminist, then you're a sexist. 


Published by Simon Stylez

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