Breaking gender norms in fashion

Phia Huebner, Writer

It is becoming increasingly apparent in the media, or at least the media that is handpicked for me to see, that the gender of a piece of clothing is decreasingly significant to teenagers and young adults. My “For You” Page is filled with people dressing the way they please despite the stereotypes and norms that were previously placed on them. Harry Styles wearing a dress on the cover of Vogue went viral on social media and sparked conversations about harmful gender norms. The idea of disregarding the restrictions of gendered clothing spread to the red carpet with celebrities such as Lil NasX, Sam Smith, and Demi Lovato and has provoked a change on the red carpet. From there it leaked into the fashion of our youth.  

Many studies are beginning to expose the harm of gender stereotypes and how breaking through them positively affects an individual’s mental health. Children accept gender stereotypes as truth by the age of 10, which influences how they view gender. These stereotypes range from careers to personality traits, but the most apparent one, in my opinion, is that of clothing. It is how we are viewed, and it is the cover of your book, despite whether it reflects your inner characteristics or not. I look at social media and observe a complete fashion revolution for our generation as a whole; contrastingly, at New Prague High School, breaking gender norms in fashion is not a growing trend. 

The pressure of gender stereotypes can be stifling for teenagers. Countless studies continue to prove that this pressure negatively affects our mental health and self-image. The self-image of a teenager is constantly scrutinized; unfortunately, the addition of gender stereotypes doesn’t help. The new modern views in social media, movies, and tv shows open up a pathway for us to simply reject them and make our own choices on what we feel gender means. Discovering who you are and what you like is a crucial part of the “high school experience,” and a simple way to start exploring how you want to express yourself is through clothing and makeup. We have come to a point in our society where gender stereotypes are becoming more flexible, and breaking those stereotypes will no longer be met with hushed judgment. Even so, showing your true self is the best gift you can give to future you.

There are many options for clothing and accessories, so pick and choose what resonates with you. We don’t have to feel confined to a box; there is a world of possibilities for our souls, so why not apply that same idea to how we dress? In order to achieve this, we just need to start leading with an open mind. Nail polish is for everyone. Skirts and dresses look great on everybody. Eyeliner can be the perfect accent to any face. Letting go of some of the “rules” can alleviate some of that pressure of the societal standards for your gender. Wearing what brings us joy and makes us comfortable should be a top priority, but we shouldn’t be afraid to explore how we want to look, even if it crosses the lines society has so wrongly drawn for us.