Of high heels, feminism and conformity

A hundred years ago, the time was World War I, men in Europe and America went to war and women took to wearing their husbands' trousers to take up jobs and sustain families. It took half a century for trousers to become fashionable for women.

While we may live in an era of change and shifting roles, the struggle remains as looming as ever. Fighting the society's regressive laws has been deemed as being violently opinionated, to the point of being ostracised and even bullied. This stands true for any social issue today and not just women's rights.

People make jokes about “who wears the pants in the family” if the lady of the house makes decisions. A woman is not feminine if she does not wear 'fashionable' clothes. She is not taken seriously enough if she does not care about chipped nail-polish after a 10-12 hours shift at work.

Gender roles are so well defined in the society that it takes a special amount of patience to fight norms. Whether your lips match your toes or whether your eye shadow is of the same luminosity as your belt buckle, is so much more important than your talent. Honestly, men too face these things – your stubbles have to be just right, your eyes have to be intense enough, your trousers are supposed to have pleats so straight that architects could use it to draw out their plans and God save you if you have a patchy moustache. But for women the bar has been set higher.

The high heels controversy at the Cannes Film Festival is just another example of the how even the high and mighty can become sticklers for some of the most absurd rules. It has been met with some strong criticism. The 'Black Tie' event calls for proper dressing and sees some of the best fashion statements from across the world. Designer outfits flow down the red carpet with the paparazzi going bonkers trying to spot who wore what.

But barring women from entering a première for the lack of heels is a slap in the face of the diktats of such events. To think that a cheap road side pencil heel is preferable to Manolo Blahnik jewelled flat belle or a Jimmy Choo glitter open toe. The horror, the horror!

For those who think stilettos empower women, make them look taller and hence more elegant – it's all in your head. Elegance and even beauty comes from confidence. Dressing well adds to the confidence. This includes a chic ensemble, a smart accessory and some make up for women and even men. Being sloppy, especially for a momentous occasion like Cannes is uncalled for. But high heels – all they are doing is straining your ankle and hurting your toes. Still, you want to go for them – that's fine. Just don't shun the rest of us who don't and more so can't.

The festival has been marred by allegations of sexism over the years. This time two women filmmakers (out of 19) were invited to the competition. While the numbers are still not competitive enough, the festival opening with Emmanuelle Bercot's French drama 'Standing Tall' and an honorary Palme d'Or to artist Agnes Varda is a definitive step forward.

But then a controversy like this crops up and it's two steps back.

Fashion is dicey by its definition. Many experts put it down to the fact that nothing is everlasting – 'fashion' constantly changes. And as Coco Chanel said, 'Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.'

The way we live has changed so much in the past century. I think it is time that the authoritative of the standard 'should bes' of what is fashion and what is not, are redefined.

Pic Courtesy - Garmaonhealth.com
This article was first published in Zeenews.com
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About Aparna Mudi

Aparna is a fashion graduate from NIFT, New Delhi. She has a passion for writing about everything under the sun, especially about fashion and lifestyle.

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