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24th Jul 2015

OPINION: “Dressing Is About Freedom of Expression, Not a Means of Possession”

A topic I feel strongly about.

Let me begin by borrowing a line from one of the fashion industry’s most successful designers, Marc Jacobs: “Clothing is a form of self-expression – there are hints about who you are in what you wear”.

Louis Vuitton: Runway - Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring/Summer 2014
Marc Jacobs sees clothing as a means of “self-expression”

Fashion is a topic that is never far from my mind and while I’m always thinking of different ways to style outfits, the idea of self-expression through dressing has played on my mind recently.

During the week, I came across a Refinery 29 article discussing the reaction to a t-shirt sold by American retailers, Target.

Emblazoned with the word “Trophy”, the t-shirt has received a huge reaction and there’s now a petition entitled “Stop Selling Sexist ‘Trophy’ Shirt That Demeans & Objectifies Women”.

Those championing the petition have said that it has “sexist trophy wife connotations”.

A.R, the petition’s founder who hails from Wisconsin, said that the fact that the “Trophy” t-shirt is sold in the junior girls department is a serious problem.

I am in agreement with this statement because children are impressionable and encouraging young girls to wear a t-shirt with the label “Trophy” is not something I’m comfortable with.

The controversial Target t-shirt

It’s introducing the complicated issue of sexism to children who may not have any idea of what it means and are only wearing the t-shirt because it’s deemed “cool”.

I feel very strongly about this because no matter how mad I am about someone, there is no way I could never wear a t-shirt proclaiming myself to be a “trophy”.

It’s a word that signifies possession and I consider myself to be completely independent regardless of my relationship status.

Even if I wanted to tell everyone about my significant other, I’m sure I would find a better way than opting for a “trophy” tag.

The design sits alongside “Team Bride” and “Mrs.” designs and while they might be fun for a hen party or the likes, I’m finding it hard to say anything positive about being a “trophy”.

A Target representative has since spoken about the t-shirt describing it as a “fun wink”, but I haven’t yet figured out where the “fun” is.

“It is never our intention to offend anyone and we always appreciate receiving feedback from our guests,” said the spokesperson.

“These shirts are intended as a fun wink and we have received an overwhelmingly positive response from our guests.”

Cheryl Fernandez-Versini hit the headlines earlier this week after posting a photo of her personalised Sophia Webster stilettos, which carry the message “Wifey for Lifey”.

A photo posted by Cheryl (@cherylofficial) on

The shoes split opinion among ‘Cheryl’s Soldiers’ but again, I feel this just reinforces the whole “Trophy” ideal.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of Sophia Webster’s frivolous, fun shoe designs but I really don’t see the need to carry such a twee description on your feet.

Personally, I like to think of women empowering other women through dressing and Victoria Beckham immediately comes to mind.

The former Spice Girl’s designs have earned her an impressive reputation in the fashion industry and she proved all her critics wrong by showing herself to be a very savvy businesswoman.

Victoria Beckham - Runway RTW - Fall 2015 - New York Fashion Week
Victoria Beckham aims to “empower women”

Okay, so her dresses might cost an arm and a leg, but I respect the fact that she wants to encourage confidence through clothes.

“I want to empower women. I want to make women feel the best version of themselves,” said the mother-of-four in an interview with Elle Singapore last year.

Fashion is one of world’s most successful industries and there are so many ways it can be utilised beneficially, instead of adding weight to the complex issue that is sexism.

I’ve always had an obsession with princesses (Disney and the real-life Kate Middleton type) and if I had the chance to dress like one for a day, I’d jump at it. Tiara and all.

That’s my way of expressing my personality through clothes and although some see fashion as superficial, the fact remains that what you wear allows you the chance to express your personality.

Branding myself as a “trophy” though? I’ll pass on that one.