Not Another “How to Dress your Summer Body” Article

Women are the target of fashion demand, critique, and criticism everywhere they turn. In magazines, look books, websites, and even in the news women are constantly being reminded to fit into the patriarchy’s perfect outfit. Whether this reminder is from the media, your friends, your family, or strangers, it always rings the same strange tune: be modest, but attractive to men, unless you’re overweight, in which case cover up quick. How marvelous that the public and your intimate community is always looking out for your best fashion interest. Yes… marvelous indeed, that anyone thinks they have the authority to determine what you should wear. This summer, take back your fashion agency and wear whatever the fuck you want.

When you open a “women’s” fashion look book, catalogue, or other fashion blog, you’ll notice that the majority of the clothing you see is stereotypically feminine. Women who don’t love a flouncy sun dress paired with strappy sandals are often made to feel alienated in their choice of clothing. The idea that women ought to dress femininely, while extremely dated, is all too prominent in the fashion industry of today. These old fashioned ideals remain discouragingly mainstream and serve to limit choices for women’s attire. That said, these limitations are really only as restraining as you’ll allow them to be.  Break free and wear your “boy-ish” clothes! If you feel more comfortable in a pair of Nike gym shorts than you do in denim cut-offs, don that loose knit jersey fit. If you prefer Addidas sliders to cork-wedge heels, then slip those swimmer favorites on. If someone treats you without respect because you opted for a baggy t-shirt instead of a form-fitting tank top, they need to re-evaluate their behavior.

What women wear too frequently determines the amount of respect they seem to be deserving of, be it the masculine clothing described here-in, or even clothing that is feminine by nature, but sexualized by gazers. If you find yourself getting dressed to go out on a Friday night and feel the need to text a pic of your outfit to a girlfriend captioned: “Is this too sexy/slutty?” you’re responding to what you’ve learned about the need to dress with modesty and you’re responding to what you’ve been taught about your body’s inherent sexuality. There really is no reason you should feel the need to reveal a limited amount of skin. It’s completely understandable that a woman might worry that how her attire may be perceived by those around her as “provocative” or “attention seeking,” as these are common misconceptions about a woman’s motivation for dressing. No, not every mini-skirt donned was done so in the hopes of attracting a man, and no, never was there a mini-skirt deserving of harassment or violence. Wear that crop top, that deep-V, that short dress and those high heels for whatever reason you want! There’s no reason that should honestly offend anyone else around you.  Wear whatever makes you feel sexy or cool because it’s what you want to wear. Just make sure you wear it with confidence.

You don’t have to have the perfect body to wear revealing outfits, though so many other June articles you’ve read have said otherwise. It just so happens that the perfect body is whatever body you’ve got. Did you want to wear a teeny bikini to the beach this summer? Get it, girl. Nobody can shame you into wearing a one piece if you happen to be a size 6 or above. Fuck the haters. You don’t need to hide the shape of your body, be it pear, apple or banana. Yeah, that’s right: banana. The message most frequently read in magazines is geared towards reminding women who are “over-weight” to cover up, but that’s not the only message stressed by the fashion industry. There are a number of articles geared towards women with small busts or butts. “The best cut to create cleavage,” or “How to find a suit to give your booty some base” can be equally as harmful to body image. And if you happen to be “blessed” with fashion’s ideal physique, don’t feel pressured into showing it off. If you want to wear that sporty speedo one piece, or those cute 50’s high-waisted numbers making their way back in style, you totally should! You don’t need to worry about being “beach body ready.” You were born ready.

Summer is that crazy beautiful time of year that always feels so ripe for adventure. Don’t let any reservations about what to wear keep you from your wanderlust. Get out in the sun in whatever makes you feel great! Accessorize with a little sunscreen and have fun! Hurry! Summer will be over before you know it.

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Meagan Cohen is a freelance writer based out of New York City. She received a Bachelor of Science in Communication Arts and Creative Writing from Marymount Manhattan College. Right now, she interns for a literary agency in Brooklyn, NY. Her passions include reading/writing fiction, all feminist blogs ever, and the occasional gymnastics class.