It’s eight in the morning. My alarm rings. I hit snooze a few times before I throw back the covers and roll out of bed. Then, I go through my morning routine to get ready for another day of classes. I usually pick an outfit to wear that makes me feel confident, comfortable, or lately, warm. Getting ready for the day is a habitual and rather thoughtless process that—until last week— I had not thought represented much of anything. Clothing, however, has always been a way to express oneself; it allows one to convey a sense of individuality, as each individual has a unique style. The freedom to choose an outfit allows the wearer to express his or her identity.
Within this daily task, there is a sense of independence. One can choose what to wear each morning, and one can choose to wear a variety of fabrics, patterns, and colors in a variety of styles – from shoes to pants to tops. Our clothes can be extensions of our personalities, tastes, and passions. We can wear sweats, or we can opt to wear dress pants. Due to dress codes in workplaces and other unspoken codes in certain parts of society, we typically wear our sweat pants at home and our dress pants to work. To those we have social interactions with, what we wear can provide information about our interests, class status, jobs, and more. So, what happens when we are not allowed to wear whatever we want – even if it fits the appropriate code?
A newsletter from Axios by Mike Allen reports that President Trump has high expectations for his employees to look the part – that is, to show up dressed to impress. The expectation to have his employees look put together and immaculate is not too far-fetched. Most places of work, even schools, tend to have some sort of dress code that the administration deems appropriate. The problem occurs when individuals are singled out because of their gender. An anonymous “source who worked on Trump’s campaign” reports Trump stating that he wants each of his female employees to “dress like a woman,” which leaves us to question what dressing like a woman really means (Allen, “Trump 101”). In those four words, a distinction is made between what men wear and what women should wear. Both men and women wear shirts, pants, and shoes. Traditionally, the only thing women wear that men do not are skirts, dresses and heels. By using the phrase “dress like a woman,” we have to question whether women are being pressured to wear clothing traditionally only worn by women – clothing that these women might not want to wear.
The backlash from this statement can be seen across social media. Last week a trending hashtag on Twitter was #dresslikeawoman. The individuals using this hashtag posted pictures of women who have broken boundaries in gender roles, both in the past and present. Real women in the military, elected offices, athletics, NASCAR, the medical field, and more posted pictures of themselves “dressing like women.” Many users also posted pictures of inspiring women from history, fiction, and film. The New York Times published an article online that included photographs of several tweets of this nature. By using social media, individuals banded together to respond and reject the concept of women being placed into specific roles in society. The women featured in tweets under this hashtag show that women should not be valued based on their outward appearance or labeled because of their clothing. They should be praised instead for their intelligence, passions, and achievements. Women are strong; women are awesome. Women should pursue what they want; women should wear what they want.