Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Aesthetics For Activists
Have you ever thought about fashion and personal style as activism tools? I sure haven't, but last week I was listening to a very interesting podcast my friend pointed me to (check it out) about re-imagining the fashion industry as more sustainable. The speakers hit on a lot of interesting topics, but one that really stuck out to me came up when they were talking about the punk movement. The guest speaker, Joshua Katcher, said "When you appear to be an enigma, when you appear to be mysterious, when you command attention with your aesthetics, that can heighten your influence as an activist".
That sentence totally blew me away. They went on to discuss how activists often see caring about aesthetics as base, especially when compared with their more noble concerns and causes. This also caught my attention, because I am completely guilty of that. Often I have so much going on in terms of activism-related meetings, classes, and events that I don't even think about trying to look interesting. I also often dismiss dressing fashionably and adorning myself on the grounds of my beliefs - I want everyone to be accepted for who they are and what they look like. I feel like if I dress up in some way, I'm being contradictory.
However, what the podcasters were discussing totally adds up. In our culture full of Hollywood movies and flashy advertisements, graphic design principles and high fashion, it makes sense that people are going to pay more attention to something or someone that looks good. Beyond that, if you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that I encourage self-expression as both a form of activism and a method for self-care. Putting all this knowledge together, suddenly it seems really evident that looking good is good for you!
Commanding influence through aesthetics is an exciting prospect - suddenly caring about how you look is part of your higher calling. It seems that anything that gets positive attention or creates intrigue or mystery is likely to get people to notice your cause. If support a cause that has a direct tie with clothing, like veganism or sustainable fashion, then making sure your clothes are both stylish and conforming to your cause can double your effectiveness.
Cultivating an air of mystery to further your activism is definitely an interesting point to ponder. I have definitely seen examples of people who do this effectively on my campus. Can you think of any activists who call attention to their cause through their aesthetics? One example of the type of mystique one might aim for here is that of popular musicians, like those in punk bands or rock icons. Though it might seem a bit silly, capturing and using this essence can have a far reaching effect. And if it gets people to care and change their behavior, why not?
I'd love to see a world where people creatively express themselves more fluently, and I think this realization is a step in the right direction. Imagine scores of well-dressed and stylized activists, idolized and publicized like today's musicians and actors. Pretty exciting, right? This is definitely a concept I will have to toy with, which is why I will soon be unveiling a new feature. I haven't done an outfit post in a long time, but recently I've realized that between this new revelation about aesthetics and all my work to encourage people to buy used clothes as an alternative to the garment industry, I should! It makes sense to advertise that you can wear sustainable clothes and still kick ass with style. I hope you all are looking forward to seeing my outfits more regularly here, I know I am!
What do you think about all this? Can aesthetics be an important activism tool, or are they rubbish? Would you cultivate your aesthetics if you knew it would increase your influence as an activist? Let me know what you think!
P.S. The food series will resume next week! Look out for parts 3 & possibly 4!
Photos: 1, 2