"Damsels in Distress: How the Fashion Industry Sells Political Correctness" by Hannah Levin
It is a popular critique of the fashion industry that it shapes women’s perceptions of
themselves, by manufacturing social pressure to conform to physical standards, validated and
promoted within it, the end goal of winning the admiration and recognition of society.
Accordingly, it is often blamed for the plethora of body image issues that primarily affect young women. As much as that may be true, it is not the only inherent issue interwoven within the industry’s threads, and that critique overshadows the worst problem into obscurity. What is overlooked as a basis for toxicity in the 21st-century fashion industry is the politically correct
ideology propagated, which tries to set the standard as to what it means to be strong,
independent, and hence desirable? It is therefore interesting to theorize the attitudes as to why being a conservative is not widely accepted as being compatible within the fashion industry.
First of all, since the fashion world has become politically correct in how it attempts to set the
desirability standard, that begs the question as to why it wants to, and as to what desirability
means to it. So what does the industry teach to be in the pursuit of desirability? Its messages
stipulate to not be conservative. I believe that the animosity towards being Republican (i.e.
conservative) in this industry ultimately boils down to marketability. Since the industry
capitalizes on marketability, logically, it is not going to promote something that it cannot make a profit on. How it makes its profit is by creating products and advertisements that appeal to
individuals’ insecurities and so essentially sell a fantasy to those willing to buy it; a fantasy that
equates with more than body image. It is one that further sells an outlook on how to
act and believe in order to be attractive enough to gain admiration and acceptance from society. Therefore, the fashion industry, in all its glamour, is an effective recruiter for the far-left in getting impressionable women to “buy” its ideology. What better way to do that than through the outlook of fashion magazines? Fashion magazine’s pages are filled with more than just cosmetic tips and models. They are a conduit through how leftist theology reaches the minds of millions to shape the world-views of young women, and should not come as a surprise as fashion has always been political as it constantly evolves to suit the attitudes and personas of each era (That is also why fashion magazines usually have political columns).
So why would the liberal mentality and ideology be much more marketable to profit off?
Likely, it stems from the concept of relativism. By adopting and romanticizing relativism and
morphing it with political correctness in favor over fact, its messages become appealing to one’s ego and places an emphasis on self. Just like the art of doing the actual designing of fashion, relativism and political correctness offer the feelings and mentality of invincibility in that you are your own art piece, and like runway designs, have no boundaries, as there are limitless possibilities in deciding who and what you are and how to present yourself; Supposedly there are no wrong answers because art is whatever you decide it to be, and you are your own creation and whatever you think. Consequently, facts, logic, and sound reasoning are sacrificed upon the sewing machine of creativity, as creativity does not acknowledge any boundaries. Boundaries, whether or not they are the truth, are dismissed as they are seen as blocks to personal creative growth. Concerningly enough, this relativism and political correctness are advertised as a source of strength and empowerment. However, it is misleading because it offers its proponents a false sense of it. Instead of the fashion industry (and in turn, the fashion magazines) coaching women on how to become independent thinkers, they teach young women what to think with the premise being that if one conforms to a liberal ideology, you will become a strong and independent woman. So in essence, fashion magazines pretend to offer an escape, but they really are a trap to those who do not read them critically, as they do not promote an open political discussion by presenting only one side of the argument. This means that the ideals accepted by this industry are really as restrictive as the corsets early suffragettes rebelled against. This is why the dragon that
the fashion industry is is such a force to be reckoned with, in competing for the minds of naive
Reinforcing the message that appears to be sent out by the fashion industry (and the media as a whole), that it is undesirable to be openly conservative, are all the left-aligning celebrities that appear on fashion magazine covers, and certainly the ones being praised by the media for their political outspokenness (i.e., Taylor Swift and Beyonce). For instance, when was the last time you got to see Melania and Ivanka Trump on the cover of Vogue? It has never happened, at least once they became political. However, there is no shortage of Vogue covers featuring Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton, and Vogue is the magazine known for setting the standard in the fashion industry. So it really shows the political one-sidedness when Allure and Elle Magazine have no problem publishing (and praising) AOC’s (Alexandria Ocasio-Ortez) makeup and skincare routine and accomplishments in January, 2019 issues, and also promoting and raving about how a makeup brand named one of their lipsticks, “F*ck Trump” (Cosmopolitan article: This Anti-Trump Lipstick is Raising Money for Charlottesville Victims).
When the brand Dolce & Gabbana openly declared their openness to featuring Melania Trump in their advertising, they were sent boycott threats, and other brands wanted to distance themselves from them, perfectly showcasing the animosity towards conservatives in the fashion industry. However, the fashion world flooded the makeup brand Illamasque with support when the brand tried to discriminate against Republican supporters by trying to make customers sign an anti-Trump pledge to continue onto the website (Cosmopolitan article: Beauty Brand Tells Trump Supporters: Don’t Buy from Us). What does this all say about the fashion industry’s beauty stand? What I surmise that the industry is insinuating is that to be perceived as the full package- strong, independent, attractive, and empowered (to media standards), you must be liberal and politically correct to complete the requirement, and in order to obtain desirability.
These harmful messages and misconceptions construed about the Republican Party by the
fashion industry (and the media in general) need to be rectified. Therefore, there is a strong need for more Republican young women to stand up and state interest in political science, get
involved in politics and the media (i.e. fashion magazines), and to try to become positive role
models for other young women. Doing so would be an effective way of offsetting and weakening the leftist, politically correct agendas, not only from within the fashion industry but throughout the rest of the country as well. Only then can we debunk its propaganda regarding what it means to be strong, independent, and thus having desirability. Having more conservative women, especially in the media would make the Republican Party ultimately more attractive to young women, as those who share an affinity for the latest makeup palette would be good at reaching them as they will come across as cool, and hence relatable, and approachable. Unfortunately, the Republican Party has not been very effective at reaching that audience, but that needs to change. Overall, if I could only summarize one thing out of many that inspired my interest in political science, it would be this: lipgloss and mascara were the flints that ignited my interest in politics.