Month: October 2009

Sole Assumptions: Footwear Fashions Not Fit for Equality


 

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http://contexts.org/socimages/2009/10/27/shoes-for-mens-and-womens-work/

I was checking out the amazing blog, Sociological Images, and came upon this submission.  The blog states:

“I was less interested in what this particular catalog was saying than in what types of shoes we see associated with each category–the very clear gendering of nursing, for instance, something that hospitals in Vegas, at least, are trying to combat. Some are now referring to nurses as “medics” to try to make the job sound more masculine. The image provides a great visual of our assumptions about who does what kinds of work in that sense.”

This serves as another reminder of how subtle gender tracking can be, and how these assumptions about gender roles are imbedded in all parts of our society.  As more professions are being explored by each sex, stereotypes of who should be doing what type of work need to be broken.  Let’s just hope the fashion industry can try to keep up.

By marketing these shoes as men’s and women’s work, the invisible fence is revealed.  Along with putting an end to this gendering of professions, we need to stop the negativity placed on what is considered “feminine.”  We even see in the excerpt above that title of nurse is being changed in order to make it more masculine, and this more appealing to men.  This implies that the term nurse, which is associated with the feminine and women, is not appealing solely because it is considered feminine.  But it is this thinking itself that is the root of the problem.  Once we start embracing the traits that are associated with femininity, and realizing that they have nothing to do with women but are just human traits (ones that males are taught not to express), then we can see that the concept of masculinity and femininity have no real meaning aside from the social definitions constructed by us (check out any of the Media Education Foundation’s movies on gender to learn more).  As human beings, we like to categorize everything but as the world changes, our categorizations make less and less sense.  Women and men are equal human beings, with individual traits that make them who they are, regardless of their sex.  So let’s keep the gender stereotyping out of our soles…any maybe one day out of our society.

Gendered Jeans?


I found this post http://www.feministing.com/archives/018048.html on one of my favorite blogs www.feministing.com.

http://www.feministing.com/archives/018048.html

It’s very interesting to see how the concept of “boyfriend jeans” is now being marketed to young girls.  Then it makes me wonder, what would the equivalent “girlfriend jeans” be?  Skin tight, flared, and a low cut waist.

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http://media.photobucket.com/image/maroon%20skinny%20jeans/cupcakesxz/redskinnies.jpg

Why aren’t there girlfriend jeans?  Well to understand that we would first have to look at what boyfriend jeans actually mean.  This label is describing a jean that is sold to women which, in comparison to traditional women’s jeans,  are cut to be baggy, with large pockets, and are considered more comfortable.  This is the standard design of men’s jeans.  So of course women would buy such pants – it’s a fashion loophole allowing the pants to qualify as fashionable while being comfortable.  But if they were to make a girlfriend jean for men, most would pass on wearing them due to the discomfort.  Of course there are  differences between some men and women’s builds, but all in all pants could be constructed to fit comfortably, regardless of gender.  Yet many times they are not when it comes to women’s clothing.  So if the only difference is that one jean is more comfortable and practical than the other, then why is that gendered as “boyfriend?”  And why sell it this way to young girls?  Of course the hetero-normative assumption of these jeans is also disappointing, not to mention the idea of having to be in a relationship.  I agree that men’s pants are much more comfortable than women’s – I have purchased some great pants in the men’s section.  I see how men wear their pants larger, and because of this one pair could last them even if they fluctuated in weight.  This happens to everyone, but for women it can mean buying a whole new wardrobe since pants are cut so snug.  Another advantage of roomy pants is the ability to fit thermals under them when it’s cold out and still have a lot space in your pants (something necessary in PA).  All these observations just point out the discrepancy in men’s and women’s clothing – where we see women have to sacrifice comfort and practicality to supposedly be fashionable.image

http://www.jeanstore.co.uk/ecomm/graphics/PR_17_LG.jpg

In the end of the day, I wonder what happened to pants just being pants?  Why not forget such labels as descriptions, and instead actually describe the pant: measurements, fabric, cut, fit, detailing.  And along with that, how do we rationalize this notion that comfortable/ loose fitting clothes = male and uncomfortable/ tight clothes = female?  I think the marketers behind such concepts need to rethink their ideas in a 21st century context, and stop using gender and sexuality to sell jeans.  Instead lets make and sell clothes in a way that leaves everyone feeling good.

My New York Vacation: Fabric Stores, Libraries, and More


 

I have been to New York City countless times, but almost always on weekends.  As a member of the 9-5 crowd, traveling on weekdays is hard.  But on my final personal day of the fiscal year this past June, I took off on a Monday to New York.  I caught the 2000 New Century Travel Bus (aka the Chinatown Bus) in the afternoon and arrived in NYC around 1 pm.  This being a last minute trip, I didn’t have my typical pocket itinerary.  I’m a planner so going without one always feels risky, but spontaneity can lead to the best experiences.  I wrote down a list of fabric stores and figured I would run into all kinds of interesting things.  First stop: The Garment District.

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Each store was nestled inside one of the many beautiful New York buildings.  I love the density of the city – how everything is like a hidden treasure waiting to be discovered among the sea of options.  It brings me the same excitement I felt going on scavenger hunts as a child.  I had to make the best use of my time so I hit B&J Fabrics, Mood Fabrics, and Paron Fabrics.  Each store was more incredible than the last – with walls, and walls, and walls full of beautiful textiles.  I was in nirvana!  I imagined as I entered these stores, that this is what it would be like if I was a fulltime designer.  Visiting fabric stores during the day, hunting through reams and reams of amazing fibers, walls, bins, and baskets full of notions, tables full of trim. I get goose bumps just thinking of it!  This trip was just another insight into my life’s purpose.  Whatever I am doing it must involve the creative process, because that is what makes me tick.  Entering these stores sends my brain into overdrive just thinking of all I could create.

As I wandered from store to store, I stumbled upon my a great find: Fun 2 Bead.  I was blown away by their selection, especially all the satin rope colors!

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After I soaked up the creative energy of the garment district, I decided to head for a quick stop at my favorite NYC destination:  The NYC Library in Midtown.

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This library is truly amazing, not only in it’s architecture and design, but in the massive amount of resources it contains.  Whenever I’m in New York I try to get to the library.  I love the energy that such spaces contain.  They just make me want to explore and learn all there is in this world.  But I’ll save my love of libraries for another post.  After my quick stop at the library, I jumped back on the subway and headed to Tribeca.  There I hit my final fabric destination: PS Fabrics.

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I must have saved the best for last, since I ended up with a bagful of merchandise after I left the store.  I also had a delightful conversation with another customer, who was also buying one of the African fabrics.  She explained how the pattern on her fabric was actually a language.  I already loved the beautiful design of her fabric (which consisted of a gold pattern over pastel colors) but to know that there was a deeper meaning hidden in those designs was mind blowing.  It just goes to show how important it is to know the culture and history behind the things we buy, so we can have a richer experience and deeper understanding of the world.  It makes me want to know more about the fabric I buy and the story behind it.

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After I finished up in PS Fabrics, I wandered around Tribeca for a while and as always saw so many fun and amazing things along the way.

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I was so excited to see the Color Me Mine store.  It made me think of the SATC episode where Carrie makes fun of Charlotte for wanting to spend her days glazing bowls (I’m chuckling thinking about the scene).  The town I grew up in, Warren, PA, had a similar store where I have yet to return to finish a piece I started in high school.  I always have loved the idea of making crafting accessible in this way to everyone.  What a great way to spend a day on your own, with friends, or with children!

Down a bit further, I saw this beautiful store front.  I was so captivated by the building itself, I neglected to get the name of the store.  But thanks to the internet I was able to figure out its a store called Double Knot (which has exquisite rugs by the way).

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My dream is to own a space such as this for my work studio.  I would create my art and people could just peer in and see what I am doing, or come in to shop, take lessons, and to connect with a local artist.  I would love to have a space that goes from store to gallery to fundraising space – a positive force in the community.  And of course I would own several units above to rent out and live in (got to have that passive income)!  It’s so important to envision the future you want by immersing yourself directly in it.  This trip allowed me to truly picture such possibilities.

Next I saw art in unexpected places.  I peeked into this store called Let There Be Neon, and was tickled by the fun rainbow arrangement of the neon lights.

 

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I really like the contrast of the light in the background against the worn down door in the foreground.  Something about the combination is perfection.  It just makes me smile.  In the city you always have to keep your eyes peeled, you just never know what will inspire you and bring you joy.

After my stroll through Tribeca, I finally headed back to the bus pick up.  Coincidentally it was right in front of yet another fabric store, Zarin Fabrics.

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I loved the store windows that stretched around the block.  They had this historic charm, with the classic Singer sewing machine and tan and brown gingham fabric.

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With a few minutes to spare before the bus arrived, I ran into the store and took a quick look around.  Even the stairwell had great art.  You just can’t escape it in this city!  Zarin definitely has the best selection of upholstery fabric and is an interior designer’s dream store.

By 6 pm, I was on the bus and on my way home.  I looked through my bags to review my purchases, and felt satisfied by my New York fix.  I’ve decided that going on solo trips to NYC will be a new ritual I will adopt, in addition to the trips I take with friends.  Nothing’s like having complete control over the day’s plans, not being rushed, and being able to focus on shopping for materials.  And traveling on a weekday made me feel like a New Yorker…seeing all the people on their lunch breaks, heading to their offices, and me wandering around carefree like I do in Philly on any given day.  It was truly paradise.  It made me realize a “vacation” is really what you make it.  It’s not about flying to some far off destination or relaxing on a beach with a drink in your hand.  You don’t even have to leave your hometown to experience it.  You just have to be doing whatever you love, on your own time, in complete calm and relaxation.  So forget about saving up for that huge trip and just step out and do what you love in your own backyard,  hop the train to the nearest city, or walk to the park and get lost in a book.  When you are doing something that brings you absolute pleasure, that is the vacation in itself!

P.S. If you’re looking for a great guide to the Garment District check out this post by quilt artist Paula Nadelstern (and also check out her amazing work).

Welcome to Preeti’s Purpose


Thank you for joining me for this exciting moment: my first post.  Please check out my About Page.  The goal of this blog is to share my writing with others, on topics close to my heart.  As an artist, I hope to bring some positive change to the world through my words.  This journey will be one that teaches me more about myself and the world.  I hope you enjoy and come away with something that adds to your life.