My Views Have Changed about Fashion Shows

Last night, I went to my first fashion show.  I’ve always kind of felt, as a feminist, that I shouldn’t go to fashion shows.  Not that I ever articulated that, but somehow, fashion shows seemed demeaning.  Obviously, the shows are based on female (and yes, some males) appearance.  This can be exploitative and is therefore, problematic.

Last night, because my friend Michelle is on the board of New Life Community, I went to my first fashion show. New Life Community is housed in a former school building, and has 14 apartments reserved for homeless families.  At New Life, the residents learn life skills: budgeting, parenting and nutrition lessons, how to find jobs, etc.  They are given 16 weeks to find a job and find a new place to live.  I am so impressed with New Life. They provide counseling and support to residents during their stay, and after they leave.  All of the models in the show last night were graduates of the program. All had successfully found housing, and all had held onto their jobs. 

This fashion show was a way to raise funds for the New Life Community program, which is why I attended.  But I got so much more out of it.  The women (and two men) had such great attitudes as they walked down the run way. The tried to act superior and above it all, but small smiles kept escaping. They were having so much fun!  The audience kept cheering for them, clapping, taking pictures.  It was great!  At the end, the models were told by DOTS, the clothing store that had lent their clothing for the evening, that they could keep the clothes they modelled.  Wonderful!

The evening culminated in one current resident reading a poem (terrific poem), and another current resident sang a song and had others join her. It was beautiful.  So now I’m thinking that a great way to celebrate a major life event is with a fashion show! Who couldn’t use the cheers of friends, family, and kind strangers?  I am so glad I went, and I can’t wait until I can bring several people with me to witness this again next year.

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About Katherine Clark

SAGES Lecturer at Case Western Reserve University. Adjunct Instructor in English and ESL at Cuyahoga Community College. Loving mother to Harvey.
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