Letter To The Editor: Fashion Advice Feature is “Guilty Of Sexism”

Image by The Province
Image by The Province

I am a student at Bellevue College and have been a reader of your publication for a long while and normally I find no issue with the content within.

This week’s issue, for May 11 of 2010, was different. On page five, one of your writers printed a list of “Fashion Don’ts” for the week. Numbers two, three and four are guilty, to one extent or another, of sexism.

Number two was the least offensive. In fact, it was not offensive at all, but I include this because of your phrasing. “If you’re going to wear shorts, and you’re a girl…” It is a small nitpick, but you could very easily come under attack from use of such phrasing.

Number three was quite a bit more offensive. You state: “Boys, pull your pants up.” I’m sorry, but you cannot do that. Yes, statistically speaking, more males than females wear loose-fitting pants. But It is not exclusive. And the “trend” of men wearing their pants at mid or low-hip is on a very speedy decline. I very rarely see college-age men wear their pants below waist (belly-button) or hip level. In the future, I would suggest phrasing it so that it targets both sexes, rather than one.

Number four is the worst offender.  You state that males should not wear necklaces, be they “Pucca shells, layered gold chains, whatever” and you ask that they “Leave accessorizing to the ladies.” You cannot do this. Under no circumstance is this okay. I understand that everyone has opinions. And you are just as welcome to yours as anyone else on this big blue marble. But you are not writing solely as your individual self, you are writing as a representative of the newspaper as a whole.

You are allowed your bias and, since this article was an editorial, you are allowed to write using your bias. But stating that “Guys shouldn’t wear necklaces” comes across no differently than “Girls shouldn’t wear pants” or “No _____ need apply.” It may not contain slurs, but it is offensive language that is not in keeping with the tone with the tone that The Jibsheet is supposed to set.

Your job, in articles on fashion, is to tell people ways they can make things look good. “If you want to wear a pucca shell necklace, these are ways..” or “Gold chains can look good, but in this context….” are acceptable statements. Statements that are sexist (“Men shouldn’t wear…”), ageist (“Women over 40…”) or otherwise discriminatory are not.  I am aware that larger fashion publications make those same kind of statements, but it’s wrong no matter who’s saying it, more-so in a campus publication.  There is always some way to make an article of clothing or accessory look good. If you need to do extra research in order to provide them, then I’m sorry for the extra bit of work.

Thank you for your time,

J. Craig