Matt Smith's End of the Spectrum

Melbourne-based writer and journalist. Purveyor of finally crafted radio plays. A Muppet of a man.

Trendsetters aren't the only fashion victims

First published in The Punch on 23rd November, 2010

Occasional exposure to Beauty and the Geek has highlighted a few things to me. One is that there’s no level that some people won’t stoop to to get on television.

Two is that there is maybe no such thing as a ‘bottom floor’ in reality programming. Thirdly and most importantly, it’s time society took a look at how it’s defining a ‘fashion victim’.

I myself, believe it or not, can fall into the socially defined fashion victim category. While I may look thoughtfully scruffy, that’s mostly because my new wife has carefully trained me that way.

When she met me three years ago I was bearded with messy hair, wearing a Roger Ramjet t-shirt, Converse shoes, jeans and a blue hooded jumper. This young lady saw potential in me, and immediately set about making renovations. While my hair is tame and my face clean shaven, I sit before you in a Back to the Future t-shirt to tell you that nothing has really changed. I still have no idea what colour should be going with what. The only time you’ll see me in a suit is at a wedding or a funeral (and even then I have to convince myself I’m Doctor Who). I’m comfortable, and fine with my geeky ways.

Somewhere along the way, we’ve got it in our heads that this kind of thing is an undesirable characteristic. Should my inability to colour co-ordinate be seen as a disadvantage? Should I be frowned upon if my footwear is deemed as not leather enough? Should I be judged by the extent of my accessories?

Maybe the real ‘fashion victims’ are those who are true ‘victims’: the ones that are actually harmed in the name of ‘fashion’.

Harming yourself, to various degrees, seems to have become an acceptable length to take in the name of fashion.

It’s encouraged to prod and poke at your own body, to alter yourself by filling in and sucking out, to cultivate skin cancers in the hope of achieving that elusive perfect tan. It’s common practice for make-up products that have been deemed too cruel to test on animals are applied in eye-watering amounts. Not only is it normal and acceptable… it’s encouraged and expected.

Maybe it’s these people who should be seen as the true fashion victims. Maybe the people who feel the need to ‘suit up’ to look professional, wearing cufflinks, ties, and other remnant items from (let’s face it) medieval clothing.

Or how about those that cram their feet in unnaturally pointy shoes to walk at an elevated level? High-heel shoes are shown to cause foot and ankle problems, and can lead to back and posture problems… and yet people wear them. They’re getting so extreme that we’re probably only a few seasons away from Chinese foot binding being declared fashionable again. But then again, maybe those people are on to something – those that suffer for their beliefs are often seen as the greatest martyrs.

Nothing seems to be greater proof of this than the modern fashion shows. The term ‘fashionable’ no longer really has a place there – it’s all the aim of being the most ‘memorable’, and often, the most ‘ridiculous’. Once again, this is an environment where ‘fashion victim’ is now an applicable tern in its real sense – being made to suffer for your ‘art’.

I’m willing to bet that mainstream Australia isn’t like this though. We’re comfortable in our shorts and t-shirts, in our tracksuits, singlets, and snuggies. The majority put comfort and practicality ahead of all else, or at least try to find a happy medium. We aren’t the fashion victims that have to be always ‘bang on trend’, or refer to a clothing item by its designer rather than the item name.

If you know or see someone who’s a true victim of fashion, say something about it. Don’t let them suffer in silence.


One comment on “Trendsetters aren't the only fashion victims

  1. Angus M
    December 19, 2010

    I’m happy to suffer as a fashion tragic. Right now I’m posting this wearing a Pac-man Fever T-shirt. Michelle does try to get me to buy good clothes, something I occasionally do, but I’m happy to look scruffy, nerdy and colour uncordinated. I’m comfortable so that’s what counts, but I can scrub up well, as seen at your wedding.

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This entry was posted on December 8, 2010 by in lifestyle and tagged , , .
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