Who run the world? Girls

I have been thinking a lot about the changing role of fashion and beauty in a world where women are increasingly becoming more powerful, having been driven to consider this topic by the Daily Mail front page last month that presented a picture of Nicola Sturgeon and Theresa May with the question, ‘Never mind Brexit, who won Legs-it?’ If you haven’t by now seen the piece, it went on to analyse both women’s outfits, as well as how ‘flirty’ their body language was. However, most shockingly, at no point in the article was the reason for the ladies’ meeting or the content of their discussion mentioned, leading me to ask why, at such a turbulent time in British politics, is the media still focusing more on the looks and femininity of the two most important politicians in Britain?

In Western society, women are increasingly finding their voices and making an impact on the world stage. It’s been nearly 100 years since female suffrage was granted here in Britain, yet today we can proudly say we have a female Prime Minister. Angela Merkel isn’t just Chancellor of Germany, but has been termed the most powerful woman in the world. And in the US, Hillary Clinton looked set to become the first female President before the eventful election of last November. All in all, it appears BeyoncĂ© was right when she declared that us girls run the world.

Or was she? The mainstream media’s continual focus on women’s looks, as opposed to their brain power, political ability or academic achievements, perhaps goes to show that even in this modern age we are still very much perceived and dominated by the male gaze. The Mail article, which was written by the female journalist Sarah Vine, draws attention to the sacrifices that women find themselves making on a daily basis. Brainy or beautiful? Pretty or powerful? Sexy or successful? Vine’s piece undoubtedly implies that women can only be one or the other. Apparently, through taking pride in their appearances, and by wearing short skirts and high heels, May and Sturgeon are taking away from the value of their opinions on matters such as Brexit. But why is this the case? May’s collection of leopard print kitten heels clearly suggests clothes and fashion are a love of hers, so why shouldn’t she experiment with her style AND enjoy a political debate?

This is a question that those in the fashion industry regularly have to confront. In a time when political activism and fighting female oppression is the prerogative, it can seem frivolous, and at times a bit silly, to be writing about a topic like clothes. That’s why it’s the emerging generation of writers like Leandra Medine, with her commentary on ‘man-repelling’ fashion and feminism, who are needed to dispel the myth that women can be only stylish or successful. Style icons who enjoy playing around with fashion like Alexa Chung, wearing dungarees one minute and evening dresses the next, are also helping to promote the message that a female can be successful and great at what she does, regardless of she wears.

So yes, girls can indeed rule the wold. And they can even do it in high heels.


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