Claire Kelly (right) putting lipstick on Finch Mireles on April 26, in Corvallis. The definition of consent according to Google is “permission for something to happen or agreement to do something”, this is also in regards to any sexual occurrence with another person. (Grace Johnson, OMN Photographer)
Claire Kelly (right) putting lipstick on Finch Mireles on April 26, in Corvallis. The definition of consent according to Google is “permission for something to happen or agreement to do something”, this is also in regards to any sexual occurrence with another person.

Grace Johnson, OMN Photographer

Things to consider: Clothing as creative expression

Soft reminder that how I dress does not determine consent

May 22, 2023

The art of dressing up is a way for one to display who they are, whether it is by themselves or in a public setting. I sometimes find it difficult to follow through with certain outfit ideas, due to the creeps who think that just because I wear clothes that they find attractive, I am therefore giving consent to being sexualized.

Clothing as an artistic medium should be viewed similarly to a painting in an art museum: admire the art all you want, but you can sure as hell not touch it. 

When I first started going to house shows a few years ago, I was over the moon to find a community that was accepting of my style and expression. Some of the most wholesome experiences I have had have been getting ready at a friend’s house. With clothes, accessories and makeup scattered in our midst, we would then hit the town to dance the night away, or roam the streets to see where the evening might take us. 

I would be lying if I said I’m not weary of catcalling and groping when wearing what makes me feel like myself in a public setting. In going to shows in the past, I have had many individuals (cis men) grab me when I was dancing and try to insert themselves into my personal space.

Margie Johnson (left) and Olivia Vanis applying makeup outside on April 26, in Corvallis. When appreciating someone’s makeup or outfit, it’s important to not sexualize a person by getting physical or crude. (Grace Johnson, OMN Photographer)

I am not saying that this only happens if someone is wearing certain clothing, because the matter of consent is relevant at ALL times. However, I think it is worth mentioning how we have been conditioned to believe that particular fashion performances are inappropriate. In turn, this phenomenon is not only a threat to one’s creative confidence, but to their safety as well. 

Why must I have to worry about unwanted attention in my expression? We should all be allowed to feel comfortable expressing ourselves and not have to be concerned with the possibility of someone thinking they can take appropriate measures regarding our appearance. 

Wear what you want to wear and what makes you feel comfortable in your body. That’s all that matters,” said Lux Black, a cultural/linguistic anthropology major at Oregon State University.  

As long as we are expressing ourselves in ways that are not harming one another, no one should have to compromise their expression because some people feel the need to objectify one’s creativity. 

It allows me to showcase my personality and mood through my clothing choices, whether that be through color, texture or silhouette,” said Allison Mills, a speech communication major at Oregon State.

Claire Kelly touching up her lipstick in the mirror on April 26, in Corvallis. Society consistently objectifies women’s bodies along with assuming that people can be touched or called to when wearing more revealing clothes, when in reality that is a toxic assumption and leads to harassment. (Grace Johnson, OMN Photographer)

Mills also believes that fashion is an art that should be appreciated and celebrated as such. She described her style as “coastal grandma meets wannabe hippie” and said that a lot of her outfits are inspired by an array of iconic trends. 

We live in a society in which there are various mediums for self expression. 

“I do find dressing up to be a way to creatively express myself; it allows me to choose pieces that I like and create a look that makes me feel comfortable and true to myself,” said Temuera Queypo, a merchandising management major at Oregon State.

Finch Mireles (left), Margie Johnson, Claire Kelly and Olivia Vanis, posing in typical college night life activity outfits on April 26, in Corvallis. When enjoying a night out with friends, sexual consent should not be a worry in the midst of one’s clothing expression. (Grace Johnson, OMN Photographer)

Fashion is considered one of these platforms, and similar to that of a community of artists, it can bring people together, not only through relating to one another about certain trends and aesthetics, but also by sparking a bond between those who find passion in clothing expression.  

“When I meet someone who shares my stylistic interests, it’s like an instant connection. We can bond over our love for certain designs or styles and exchange tips and inspiration,” Mills said. 

We must do better to become more accepting and encouraging of creative expression, especially within the realm of clothing. Support one another in the dimensions of creativity and make sure to keep an eye out for one another. People should be able to wear whatever they want, when they want, without the fear of someone obstructing their artistic presentation in fashion. And to the creeps out there, keep your fucking hands to yourselves!

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