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The Moral Wardrobe: Feminist Frump

Conrado; Tee – Elegantees; Sandals – Betula

Last week, my friend Catherine sent me this tongue-in-cheek post about female frumpiness as a feminist statement:

The dominant sensibility of femininity, which we will call Sexy Adult Woman (SAW), values flattering-ness, attractiveness above all else—pleasing the eye. In common parlance, “frump” is the defective result when a feminine person tries and fails to achieve SAW. Frump is not. Frump is a whole sensibility in and of itself, entirely distinct from, and in valid alternative to, SAW… 

Frump is a way of being feminine. The way of Frump is not in terms of attractiveness but in terms of freedom, comfort, and self-delight. It can be observed in objects, structures, and people of any sex, but because it was born of the machine of patriarchy and male domination as a way to shame the feminine for failing to subscribe to SAW values, it is a sensibility most fundamentally of and for the feminine.

As a teenager, I realized pretty quickly I wasn’t going to win at the attractive-to-teenage-boys game. For one, I could tell it was unfair, and that a variety of factors, including family income and socialization, impacted the kind of social capital I could build based on looks. So I dressed for other girls, the girls who read Teen Vogue and appreciated a bit of eccentricity.

I embrace the sack dresses of this current age because I think they defy expectations. They say that we don’t exist to please others, we exist to build our identities however we want. So tight dresses and apron dresses are both right.

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