What I’m Wearing: A Look at Society’s Obsession with Women’s Clothing

"All the Clothes," Corrina Mehiel

“All the Clothes,” Corrina Mehiel

While the movement for women’s rights has come a long way and there is more focus on gender issues in mainstream media, the struggle still continues with gender stereotypes against women and how they present themselves; an example of this is media and people’s obsession with what women wear and how they are treated based on their clothing choices. What I’m Wearing is a piece written by Amira Hanafi, in which she examines how society puts value on a woman’s appearance based on her outfits, while also reflecting on Muslim women wearing hijab and niqab in a post-9/11 world.

Hanafi uses hypertext links in her prose which lead to several articles about the subject that she covered in the paragraph. She writes in a first person style and takes several of the article’s key phrases to place into her prose. The articles topics range from how there is unnecessary emphasis placed upon successful women’s wardrobes (Hilary Clinton, Miley Cyrus), to stories about discriminationMuslim women face when they choose to wear the hijab and niqab to a conservative man’s view on SlutWalks and feminists overall. She also makes use of pictures in some of the chapters, which link to the article it is used in. The articles range form being news articles, such as CNN or Washington Post, to blogs and websites, such as Jezebel.

One of the images Hanafi used in her piece. It is a poster used in Qatar's National Campaign for Safeguarding Values and Traditions, 2012

One of the images Hanafi used in her piece. It is a poster used in Qatar’s National Campaign for Safeguarding Values and Traditions, 2012

I thought Hanafi’s way of using the hypertext links allows the reader to see just how many articles there are about women’s struggle to express themselves in the face of sexism and rape culture in our society. Hanafi is a woman and a Muslim who cares about these subjects and desires to change viewpoints by exposing them in writing. The prose style is not itself poetic or has flowery language, but it doesn’t need it in this case: she is taking quotes and paraphrasing them in her way to reveal how judgmental society can be, even in more formal, supposedly unbiased sources like the news.

If you want to read more of Hanafi’s work and follow her projects, here is her website, and her Twitter.

  1 comment for “What I’m Wearing: A Look at Society’s Obsession with Women’s Clothing

  1. January 27, 2015 at 10:07 am

    It’s interesting or ironic that this piece — as part of its commentary on mediation of women’s bodies, perhaps? — is built around appropriation. So, as far as I can tell, the text that we read in each page is appropriated from the source material it links to, just with the pronouns replaced with first-person to make it seem more personal or sound like a single voice.

    For example, where the original article includes this text:

    Clinton, who wore a brown pant suit accented by a turquoise scarf that helped soften her look,

    “What I’m wearing” changes it to:

    I wore a brown pant suit accented by a turquoise scarf that helped soften my look

    I think this really highlights how the language this piece focuses on is often insidiously subtle.

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