It must be said: 2014 was the year in which we celebrated feminism due to a number of celebrities who openly embrace a feminist label. Emma Watson, Lena Dunham, Beyonce, Ellen Page, Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, Grimes, even Pharrell: they all declare themselves as feminist.
More interesting is how they re-define feminism. Take Beyonce. During the VMA she claimed her feminist moment while quotes from TEDX famous Adichie appeared behind her silhouette and in huge letters FEMINIST were lighting up. You would almost forget that she just did a whole performance facing public from her back (bootylicious) and singing about ‘doing everything to please a man’. Although this might evoke some controversy, you could see it as an honest approach to the complexity of being a woman today.
“Although this might evoke some controversy, you could see it as an honest approach to the complexity of being a woman today.”
Take a look at how high-end fashion labels took their piece from the femmecake for example.
Fashion has always been about embracing beauty, female grace in particular. Fashion asserts that what women chose to wear is often reflected in their position in society. From Chanel's iconic little black dress proclaiming to liberate women to the masculine cut suits of Yves Saint Laurent championing equality.
The modern day approach to feminism is more about celebrating the different facets of femininity. As Finnish fashion designer Minna Palmqvist explains about her collection: ‘ It symbolizes women as tightrope walkers balancing between strength and decadence, lightness and weight, façade and reality, showing true femininity, on the verge of a nervous breakdown.’ It is a tough job being a woman, it must be said.
A typical take on the female position is reflected through her male opposite. For example, in a quick review of the advertising history of luxury female fragrances, a man is always included in the shot.
“Nevertheless, his presence is important, apparently. ”
Many times he doesn’t speak, sometimes he is even filmed from the back. Nevertheless, his presence is important, apparently. Even the well-intentioned action of Chanel last year to re-define feminism by screaming 'Feminist = Femininity' in a Paris fashion protest, has been set-up by a man ironically.
If the essence of feminism is about gender-equality, and femininity is about gender-difference, it will be a tough job to balance both. It is not made any easier by #girlscan campaigns telling girls they can do everything guys can do or by Beyonce encouraging us to be flawless.