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


  1. Interesting perspective on something I have considered throughout the years in one way or another. I have for many years chosen to dress (mostly) simply with (usually) no makeup and no fancy hair styles that require more than a towel drying because I see those decisions as being the change I wish to see. I don't spend my time or resources on appearance (at least not to the same extent many women probably do) because I believe there are far more important ways I could be spending my life. And I wish more people could relax about appearance and focus on living their life with purpose. But I do find this intriguing to consider because maybe by putting more effort into showing how simple, sustainable living can still look stylish, I'll reach new audiences. I can at the very least see the application of this concept in the context of my work as a blogger, where I could choose to showcase fashionable sustainable living every once in awhile. However, I don't imagine myself putting more effort into this in my everyday life since I worked so hard throughout high school and college to undo the societal messaging that I needed to look perfect and pretty everyday. Definitely a thought-provoking concept...

    1. I agree with you completely - this is definitely a concept that jives with me in some ways but in other ways doesn't. I think showcasing aesthetics on a blog is a good idea - and more feasible and reasonable than doing it in the everyday for many of us. Thank you for your thoughts! :)

  2. Loved this!!
    I myself do pay attention to people who stand out of the crowd :)
    They have already made choices when they bought/made the clothes/accessories and (possibly) when they dressed up that day. So, they must have some opinions! And if I like their outfit, I might be interested.

    Also! Yesterday I was linked a stupid picture comparing two cooks with different diets and same age. The meat eating was younger (and prettier) looking and the vegetarian one looked really old and grumpy. The picture said "I rest my case"... So stupid :(

    1. Totally, that's quite a generalization. Glad you enjoyed the article, thank you for sharing your point!

  3. Yes, imo aesthetic is a powerful tool bc it's alluring and influential.
    ♡ Dulce


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