My cousin is President of the Feminist Collective at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. The student organization, which is an activist group on SHU’s campus that advocates feminism and works toward equality for all, has a very active Facebook group on which members are encouraged to share any grievances they have concerning their work. The page is updated several times a day and is always full of very active discussions; thankfully, my cousin added me as a member of the group so that I can participate in the lively conversations as well. It is very interesting and inspiring to see what feminist groups on other college campuses are achieving!
One of the SHU feminists recently posted this link: http://justinalexanderbartels.com/90477/962710/gallery/impression. Clicking on the link takes you to a gallery of photographs taken by photographer Justin Bartels titled IMPRESSION. The photos depict the marks and impressions left on women’s skin as a result of binding clothing. For example, there are photos showing the impressions left after wearing tights, bras, and corsets.
I find the gallery to be extremely important because it raises the question, Why do we wear what we wear? The images make these clothing items look painful, so why do we insist on wearing them? Why do women buy and use these items on a regular basis?
My problem isn’t with the binding articles. I, for one, am a huge fan of leggings and tights. My problem is with the ads selling these items, as well as with the magazine articles that promote them. Wearing these items should be our choice; we should not feel that we have to buy and use these items because they will make us more desirable. It is no secret that society at large sends us the message that we need to wear these things to look thinner, to make our bodies look slimmer, because when we appear thinner and slimmer we are considered to be more attractive by societal standards.
Furthermore, when we are attractive in these ways, society tells us we are more desirable. The evidence is everywhere. From articles about how Jessica Alba lost her baby weight via wearing a corset for three months to ads selling the wonders of spanx, there are messages telling women to wear binding clothing virtually everywhere. While I fully support the women who decide to wear these types of clothing, I think articles and ads such as these are unnecessary. We should be supportive of women of all body types, whether they are achieved naturally or not.
Student Outreach Coordinator
Ohio University Women’s Center