Recently, Jaden Smith, model, actor, and thought provoking Twitter user, signed on as the spokesperson for Louis Vuitton. What’s more, he can be seen in the fashion spreads wearing skirts, causing some gender norms conversations:
#JadenSmith just another example of a broken child star
— [Insert Name Here] (@SizweMonsterNka) January 25, 2016
— Professor Ray Grant (@ProfRayGrant) January 19, 2016
People are actually angry that Jaden is wearing dresses and skirts. What I want to know is: why?
Well, I suppose I can answer my own question: parts of society teach us that there is a gender binary when it comes to clothing, and that we are supposed to follow it. Gender binary refers to the classification of society into two distinct genders, primarily male and female. Yes, gender norms have required men to wear pants and suits and women to wear skirts and dresses. And up until lately, we’ve followed these guidelines, not swaying outside of this binary.
There could be a few different reasons for this. One, we’ve been taught to conform to certain clothes based on our gender. Two, some are judged when they do step outside of the clothing binary. There is fear about people being unsatisfied with the way you’re dressing because it doesn’t “accurately convey your gender.”
That’s exactly what happened with Jaden Smith — people were unsatisfied with his fashion spread as it’s considered tasteless to some people to dress in clothes that they believe are designated for the opposite sex.
I was shocked how far people were going with these sentiments. I saw comments such as “he’s lost his masculinity” and “he’s not a man anymore.” Now, I have my own views on masculinity. For example, I think it’s perfectly great for men to wear makeup. Women are completely able to pull off short hair. And that being said, wearing a skirt does not make you any less of a gender.
At the end of the day, clothing is supposed to convey who you are, not what you are. If you want to wear neon pastel pop grunge pants, you’re entitled to doing so; it does not tell people what gender you wish to be. The only thing that tells people your gender is, well, you.
You get to say what you are, not clothes. As much as clothes can often be a work of art that inspires people, clothing cannot speak. Clothing, when it’s removed from everything else, is just fabric that you put on your body to hide your naked body. Clothing doesn’t have a gender.