It began with a conversation.
My batchmate, Keisha (keishaconstantino.tumblr.com), was lamenting to her friend Celine (themakedoer.wordpress.com) about how the erratic weather conditions in the country were making it difficult for her to dress up, to which they both agreed was just an excuse to not look their best. These were two beautiful young women; smart, confident and composed to others, yet somehow the inaccessibility of dressing up and looking good for themselves had been brought up.
As a resolution, they, along with a handful of friends, decided to dress up weekly called “Fasyon Fridays”, where every Friday of the week was dedicated to dressing up according to a common theme. One thing led to another, and that another turned into the fashion, beauty and style advocacy: #WIWFM (What I Wore For Me).
The What I Wore For Me advocacy sprang up from the desire to create a beauty movement that shunned the superficial misconceptions of looking beautiful. As often, women are judged from how much makeup they put on, or from the clothes they wear, being dismissed as vain, basic, shallow and what-have-you, as if putting effort into how you look was a crime.
As lovers of beauty, fashion and style, they encourage people, especially young women to find their own style and find confidence in it, and banish fears of judgment and negativity from other people. The #WIWFM tackles the materialistic stereotypes of beauty, style and fashion and gives it a more positive spin. It shifts its focus away from the clothes and the makeup, and directs it front and center to what matters most: you. As it goes, you don’t need to be rich, spoiled or kikay to be stylish; all it takes is self-confidence and a bit of imagination, because you are worth being made up for.
Yet, whether wittingly or unwittingly, the What I Wore For Me trend has lent itself to bring to light a deeper issue that plagues women even in today’s times. Whether that was the intention or not, as I see it, the WIWFM movement is a manifestation of the need to uplift women in today’s day and age where, despite misleading trends, womanhood is still looked down upon.
We have heard one too many stories around us and on social media about rape cases where the blame is placed on the victim because of what she wore, because she “put herself in a compromising position because of her outfit”, because she was basically “asking for it”. I am reminded by the recent rape-slay case in Bulacan where a young woman was found dead by a rice field, naked from the waist down. While there was an outpour of sympathy from netizens, there was still a large number of people who proudly professed that they could not sympathize with the victim as much because she was dressed “like a slut”.
We have heard one too many stories on cat calling and street harassment, some of these stories drawn even from our own personal experiences. Everyday, women are shamed and violated by people they have never met simply because of what they chose to wear that day, as if micro minis and short shorts were the sartorial equivalent of a license to be objectified. “If you didn’t want people to think you were a slut, why wear that type of clothing?” “Be thankful I even paid attention to you, you’re ugly no matter what clothes you wear”.
Ugly. Basic. Slut. Whore. Attention seeker. Tries too hard. These are only but some of the labels we know all too well, cast upon women who strive to express themselves in their own style. This makes the ever important case that while fashion is a form of self-expression, we are not wholly defined by what we wear, just as one word or one label cannot confine the complex layers of our personalities. This kind of poisonous social ostracizing perverts the very essence of fashion and style, which is to express our own identity as we become comfortable in our own skin. As if we dress for other people. As if we dress for them, they who delude themselves by thinking it is upon them to decide whether we are worthy of their attention.
In reality, the #WIWFM is more than just another social trend. It is not a justification of one’s so-called “vanity”. It’s a social movement that takes a stand, one that makes its case in the ironically self-centric world of selfies and OOTDs. It’s a stand where we claim ownership on our own bodies, that we dress and primp ourselves to please no one but the figure standing in the mirror.
But most of all, WIWFM is a celebration of our identities as individuals, and our uniqueness that makes us beautiful in our own right. Just as we hail people of different colors, shapes and sizes, we celebrate women with different styles that make them happy and that make them who they are. No one has the right to make us inferior in our own skin.
So go on and add #WIWFM to that next outfit post on Instagram. Because as Keisha likes to put it so aptly, “You’re not dolled up for anyone else but you”. #
The photo above was taken during my birthday this year, one of the moments that I truly felt like myself.