I think clothing choices — especially in the realm of feminism — can get people confused. Most say, “Oh, you do not want to be seen as a slut, you should not wear slutty clothes.” I disagree, and here is why.


Although I have always been on the fence with clothes when it comes to women’s issues, I believe a woman can dress herself (whether it be with clothes, make up, contacts, fake lashes, etc) however she sees fit. Fashion is supposed to be fun!


It is why Alina Kovalevskaya and Valeria Lukyanova dress like Barbies, or why your best friend from college only wore yoga pants and Ugg boots to school everyday. It is why your mom still rocks shoulder pads and suit pants, and your friend from work would never be caught dead in anything but pants. People engage in fashion because it is fun, and it shows off what they think is pretty, sexy, attractive, comfortable, or just generally pleasing to the eye — this spreads across gender and stereotypes.


The key difference, however, is that I think women (and men!) should dress and think for themselves, not for others. People should wear what they think is attractive, not what media tells them is attractive. That is not to say, however, that if something is “in style” it should be looked down upon. Most new trends are just that: new (at least for some). Before 2012, I had no idea what a sock bun was, and now I have no idea how I lived without it.


However, I do believe that what you wear is a reflection of your style and personal choices. People will make judgments based on your appearance. If you have a rocker-chic style, people will think you like rock. If you have a hipster style, people will probably think you like vintage records and know what the distinction between veganism and vegetarianism. Assumptions change from person to person, but assumptions will be made.


This is just how our brains work. Our brains need short cuts — as many as they can make — because otherwise, in a world filled with advertisements, numbers, names, and other details, we would get overloaded in seconds. For that reason, our brain makes associations. Associations can lead to assumptions.


If some girl is wearing a stunningly sexy dress and high heels, she might be looking to attract some attention at the bar. That does not, however, mean that she “wants it” even if she says no. Her actions should sway people to her true self and her true intentions for wearing that outfit. That is, in essence, what the problem is: people sexually objectify women based on their outfits instead of realizing that is a person wearing it. Their actions should determine what they want out of a conversation, relationship, friendship, what have you, not their clothes.


The difference is, knowing that people make assumptions, everyone should make room to change their assumptions based on the person’s actions. No still means no, and just because she is wearing a sexy dress does not mean she is a blinking light for your sexual pleasure. It does not mean she is an object to be ogled and stared at. She is still a person. Buy her a drink, chat her up, and if she says no, guess what? It means no.


With all that having been said, I do think there are times when it is more appropriate to dress for others — like job interviews or if you are a sales representative — and that is because you are representing something larger than yourself. If you work at a high-end sales company, how you dress shows the company’s values.


In the end, I think it all comes down to choice. Feminism should encourage, just like with gender roles, the chance to choose what you want. If you want to dress modestly because that is what makes you feel good, go for it. If you want to dress in short skirts and crop tops because it makes you feel good, go for it. As a woman, I want to fight for you to make that choice for yourself and have all the options available to you.


How do you feel about clothes? Do you think clothes are a direct reflection of a persons intentions? Do you think women should restrict their clothing choices for the sake of modesty? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @kateeb790!