The late and great street fashion photographer, Bill Cunningham once said, “Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life,” and I could not agree more. What you wear and how you wear it is not only reflective of who you are but also protective of it, and thus, should always be for your own benefit. But what happens when your sartorial shield is taken against you?
We are all guilty of it. We come across a random #OOTD on our feed from a seasoned style star we follow or a friend who attended a wedding, and immediately comes judgment: “I would never push for that neckline,” or “What is she wearing?” or “Are those Louis Vuitton’s really hers?” and probably with a laugh here and there.
Whether in the form of thought sitting at the back of our heads, said out loud, or worse, posted as a comment for all to see is irrelevant—we have already made possibly scathing remarks about the person and their clothes on their backs. And for what? Personally, I find nitpicking other people’s style choices particularly hard to avoid as my job as an editor entails a lot of judging fashion. But what I do is tell that person what I think and give my suggestions to elevate their looks—packaging my words as constructive instead of destructive. It is here where we can see the difference of honestly expressing your thoughts and just plain bashing: your intention.
Being outright hateful is more common than we think. More often than not, people chalk it up to a projection of our insecurities, and I can honestly say that I’ve been guilty of this. We tend to try to break down a person just so we can appear or feel bigger than they are. Hating says a lot about the hater and not about the victim being hated on. Just a reminder (that’s along the lines of what Mean Girls’ Cady Heron once said): Insulting someone will not make you any more beautiful.
What’s devastating about all this negativity is that it is not at all what fashion is about—we’ve always pushed for empowerment, progressiveness, and most importantly, inclusivity. Take it from Yves Saint Laurent himself when he said that “[…] fashion was not only to make women more beautiful, but also to reassure them, give them confidence.” You should be able to work those new thigh-high boots you’ve wanted for so long without worrying about what everyone else might think. What you wear makes you you, and that should never be something anyone should use to put you down.
In the end I just can’t help but wonder: What’s with the hate, really? It’s just fashion anyway.