Playing Dress Up

Crop tops, bikinis, short-shorts- all these clothing items are intended for women, but made for men. Now more than ever women are expected to reveal a lot of skin. The fashion styles in today’s society tell women to wear less clothing so they can be more sexually appealing to men. I feel like I have to dress to attract men, and not what I am comfortable in which is portrayed through cultural trends.

This idea was touched upon in Mary Celester Kearney’s article. Kearney explains how products are made for females. In particular, the Mattel’s Barbie Wireless Video Camcorder. This toy was made for girl and promoted that women should be in front of the camera as models or pop stars and not behind the camera as a photographer. Mattel did this by having poor quality images from the camcorder so girls were less interested in photography. This gender discourse involves the expectance for women to be in front of the camera with their skinny, half naked bodies. I considered this point and I feel I need to aim to have a model body in order to be truly happy. The Victoria Secret Fashion Show and Sports Illustrated magazine are perfect examples. The fashion show is aimed toward female viewers and promotes women wearing lingerie for men. The magazine is predominately made for males and uses females in bikinis and other revealing clothes as their cover page. I have seen males obsess over sports illustrated magazines and claim to love the women on the cover even though they don’t even know them. This told me at a young age that in order for a man to love me, I should look like a model. So many parts of our culture are telling me to dress for how men want to see me.       2014 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show - Show

Sarah Banet-Weiser and Laura Portwood-Stacer reflect on the Miss America Pageant in their articleI Just Want To Be Me Again!” They describe how the pageant suggests that women dress up for others, mainly men, and not for their individual self.

I am a 21 year-old female college student and its seems everywhere I look, whether its to the girl next to me or on my social media feed, I am surrounded by skinny females showing off their stomachs and chests. I feel pressured to spend money on clothes I would not wear around my parents. I hear my female roommates complain about eating a piece of pizza- not because its unhealthy, but because they don’t want to gain weight. Halloween just passed and this holiday is a great representation of how I feel I need to dress for males’ pleasure. My peers try to dress up as some character using as little clothing as possible. I can assure you most girls do not want to go out on a cold fall night wearing barley any clothing. I feel the need to deal with the discomfort to “fit in” in my culture. The movie Mean Girls evoked this Halloween trend by saying it was okay for girls to dress “slutty” on this day.


The Halloween topic was also addressed in Stanford’s Blog. “Sure, whatever, I understand that costume propriety is a function of rapidly deteriorating pop culture, and I get that maybe passing Halloween off as “Slut for a Day” might be construed as somehow liberating of societal norms.  But girls, we go to Stanford.  We know better” (Kristi). Kristi argues that women today have more opportunities than ever before and they should not disparage themselves for the appraisal of men. Women should dress in what they feel comfortable and confident in. Going to a well-known University I understand Kristi’s critique. I am appalled on how some girls present themselves that I know have a better understanding of self-worth.


Women in cinema support this claim by entertaining for men. “Feminine positions are produced as responses to the pleasures offered to us; our subjectivity and identity are formed in the definitions are desire which encircle us. These are the experience which make change such a difficult and daunting task, for female desire is constantly lured by discourses which sustain male privilege”(Storey 146). Females have a self-relationship to others, while males have an independent relationship. Society influences these relationships and pop-culture promotes it to the masses. I almost feel guilty looking up to some of the female celebrities that I do because they have been seen on the red carpet with a plunging neckline.screen-shot-2016-11-01-at-4-43-36-pm

During my leisure time I like to shop online. I find myself scrolling through emails of deals from numerous clothing stores. I notice that most of the clothing stores are marketing sexual clothing. Some of the headlines include the words “sexy” or “hot”. I am constantly being influenced to buy revealing clothing and to have the body to wear that clothing which gets to be stressful. I feel inclined to do this for men. The ideological norms of femininity tell me its acceptable to dress in less clothing than normal to attract males.

I do admit to advances for women in fashion, but there is still a long way to go. Young females have too much pressure from numerous outlets to dress in a sexually attractive way.



Kearney, Mary Celeste. (2010). Pink Technology: Mediamaking Gear for Girls. Camera Obscura 74.

Kristi. (2016). Halloween Costumes- The End of Innocence. (Web). Retrieved from

Sarah Banet-Weiser & Laura Portwood-Stacer, “‘I just want to be me again!’ Beauty pageants, reality television and post-feminism

Storey, John. Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: A Reader. 7th ed. New York: Routledge, 2015. Print.



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