“[Fashion] shapes our bodies and the way we look at other people’s bodies. It can enable creative freedom to express alternative identities, or dictate what is deemed beautiful and acceptable.” 1
Ahead I look, and my gaze is met by two glassy eyes that pierce back more ferociously than I expect. The focus narrows, and pupils dart along the curves of my body: its rounder bits, its nooks and crannies, and its surface marked with blemishes galore. These eyes dissect my outfit, hairstyle and preening choices. I go to button my shirt to the top, as I am surveyed in one gulping stare.
I want to be treated as more than a conquest, as more than a body to ogle and possess, and so I let the fabric drop a little looser until it barely skims the skin beneath. I begin the elaborate game I’ve perfected over many years. I cover up to deflect unwanted attention and choose flat shoes to reassure myself that I can dance away with added haste if it doesn’t work. I belt in and layer garments where needed. I ritually remove anything that is deemed to undermine my worth – anything that, this week, I’m told is conspiring to make us wholly unloveable. I crop my hair and paint black lines along my eyes. For too long, my body has been something that has been mocked, manipulated, despised and bridled. So I ready myself to battle through the fleshy experiences that today’s world serves up.