The limitations of the male gaze
Graduation project Fashion design x Critical Studies
As a kid, I used to love dressing up. I would always play around with my own clothing and pieces of cloth. I would create other outfits by draping and just trying out. It is kind of funny if I look back at it. I was obsessed as a kid with becoming a woman. I would always put on make-up, my mom’s heels and create fake boobs. I couldn’t wait to go through puberty myself. I always had a love for the female body. And by dressing up I always tried to accentuate it om myself. I was probably really sexy for a child. I wasn’t aware of sexual attraction at that time, or anything sexual at all. I was just dressing in the way that made me feel beautiful. It was absolutely my favorite thing to do, it was my creative outlet.
Growing up when I started to become a woman, and when I could buy my own clothing and dress according my likings, I got negative responses on my choices. People would stereotype me as a slut for dressing mature and sexy. I wanted to wear the highest heels a full face of make-up and revealing clothing that accentuated my female body. I don’t see my own body, or anybody else’s body as sexual. I did not see the issue by wearing revealing clothes because of my sexuality. And by showing of my body, I was allowing myself to get sexualized by men. And in that view my surrounding were slut shaming me. I learned to hold myself back in my dressing to prevent these negative comments in the future. I would only dare to dress this revealing again in my room when nobody is watching.
This pattern of slut shaming has everything to do with the male gaze. This world we live in is built to objectify women for men’s pleasure. But on the other hand, women who dress according this male gaze will get shamed. There is still the ideal of women being sexless individuals, men want pure and virgin women. There is still a huge double standard between genders and sex. To gain respect and serious interest from men in terms of marriage and relationships you are expected to dress modest and need to cover up. In today’s world women and myself are still dressing to attract men. I don’t want to attract men and want to explore what really dressing for myself looks like.
For my project I want to show the limitations I feel by the male gaze. If I would really dress for myself and not for men, I would embrace my femineity and my autonomous sexuality. I want show the process of me exploring this femineity trough my own gaze free from judgement all alone in my room.
Proces cutting clothing