Feminist figures in fashion

Natalie Finnigan shows how three powerful feminist icons are making a difference within the fashion and beauty industries.

Natalie Finnigan
22nd November 2020
Those working in the fashion and beauty industry are no strangers to entrenched sexism from companies and individuals: models are held to excessively high, unrealistic beauty standards to be size 8 or less with no body fat. By reacting to and calling out these principles that determine how women and trans people are viewed, the fashion and beauty business can aim to improve gender equalities. These trailblazing figures demand equality by holding society responsible for endorsing archaic notions of femininity.

Kamala Harris

White pantsuit; white pussy-bow tie; first female Vice President; Kamala Harris sets a spectrum of new precedents for western politics, starting with clothes that represent empowerment. She is a pioneer not only for being the first female Vice President, but the first Black female Vice President, and that of immigrant parents, so her actions and words speak volumes. Wearing a striking white pantsuit that stands out while speaking to the nation as the new VP conveys a very deliberate message - she is not afraid to challenge the norm, especially in public situations. Fashion is overlaid with politics: the pantsuit and pussy-bow blouse are icons of women's struggles and liberation, worn by suffragettes, and modern women of politics like Hillary Clinton. Such blouses were traditionally the garment of the first professional working women: now, they embody the fight to achieve everything a man can whether they face condemnation or rallying support.

Jameela Jamil

Jamil has broken into several industries, namely radio, acting and activism. She changed the culture of radio when she became the first solo female presenter of the BBC Radio 1 chart show, and since contributing to activism has influenced Instagram to rewrite their codes of conduct on diet and cosmetic procedure adverts marketed towards people under the age of 18. Not just that, but adverts promising exaggerated weight-loss effects from drinking a tea or taking a pill have also been completely banned; no more Instagram posts from Kim selling appetite suppressants or fat-burning products, which sound as unhealthy as they are. Jameela has also set up the activism community I Weigh, which promotes inclusivity across all groups, sizes and race: she interviews celebrities on their struggles with body positivity and self-acceptance to share the message that regardless of fame or image, everyone can find it hard to deal with mental health issues. She has released a 12-piece, size-inclusive fashion line with Simply Be, reflecting her mission to end size division in the fashion industry. The collection sports traditional tailor cuts and flattering trims for any body shape. From leopard print, to an electric blue mini dress, to a black midi dress, there is a range of styles to pick and choose from.

Jamie Windust

Jamie is a non-binary, LGBTQIA+ freelance writer and public speaker from London. They have written for Cosmopolitan, British GQ, and The Independent, while also set up their own magazine FRUITCAKE to exhibit photography, art and poetry from the LGBT community. They also model makeup and fashion, in distinctive style: they push boundaries on what constitutes masculinity and femininity through makeup, colour and clothes, while expressing their own identity without inhibition. They regularly speak at the University for the Creative Arts on social responsibility and diversity within the student community. Jamie has just released their book, In Their Shoes: Navigating Non-Binary Life which explores their experiences and life as a trans person, in the good and the bad parts. Additionally, they have a YouTube series also titled In Their Shoes, on Jameela Jamil's I Weigh channel. In these series, they discuss issues faced by trans people, using fashion as an emotional outlet, and for practicing self-acceptance.

These and many more feminist icons are changing how women and trans people are viewed, both in the fashion and beauty industry and across society on a wider scale. Their voices contribute to improving the discourse surrounding beauty standards, promoting size inclusivity and equality for every skin colour and identity.

Featured Image: @feministgoodsco on Instagram
All images courtesy of Instagram

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