In sheep’s clothing, we baah in sublime harmony.

The more important an aspect of someone’s life is to that person, the nastier it is to insult it. To besmirch someone’s religion is worse than to besmirch her taste in music, to besmirch his poetry is worse than to besmirch his driving.

Take note of this, fashionistas who think that clothing is a means of self-expression, a meaningful and personally significant way of identifying and affiliating and distinguishing. Are you being very nice at all when you rag on the way others dress? You seem to be committed not just to saying that, for example, Michelle Obama is someone who is not good at choosing cuts of dress, but that she is someone whose identity and self-expression is in some way wanting.

(Edit: I have no idea if this really vile person subscribes to the fashion as self-expression notion, but I sure hope not.)


14 Responses to “In sheep’s clothing, we baah in sublime harmony.”

  1. Mike Says:

    You took this post a different direction from what I had expected.

    I thought you were going to conclude, “Thus, fashionistas, you should ask yourself why you’ve made something trivial central to your identity.” Anyhow, that’s how I would have concluded. ;)

  2. Paul Gowder Says:

    I’d rather make them feel bad about criticizing the way I dress. :-)

  3. Phoebe Says:

    With all due respect, I’m not sure where you’re going with these anti-clothes-consciousness complaints. First, those who think clothing is one of many ways people express themselves do not often think it’s the *most* important. Next, which comments re: Michelle Obama’s outfits are you referring to? While nastiness is never the way to go, why can’t people discuss her dress just as they discuss any other choice she makes? Why do you assume MO is *not* actively trying to express herself through dress as well as through speech, etc., and that the only appropriate response to her clothing is no response? (I think she looks reliably amazing, but I suppose that would, by your standard, also offend her.)

  4. Paul Gowder Says:

    No, you’re over-interpreting. I simply think that many people who think fashion is somehow meaningful to people’s identity are also the sorts of people who are rather nasty about fashion. (This is explicitly not directed at you, except insofar as it is part of the general debate we seem to be having: I’m certainly not saying you do this, since I have never seen you do so.) And while it’s charmingly hip to be snarky about things that aren’t meaningful, it is rather non-charming to be snarky about things that are meaningful. And this relationship seemed worth noting.

  5. Phoebe Says:

    I haven’t found the discussion of MO’s clothes to be all that snarky–there’s a tiny bit of snark amidst all-around (and much-deserved) admiration. Nor do I think most women who write about clothes (I’m thinking, from my own blogroll, of Amber, Belle, and Kei) write the way you describe, so it’s not as if I’m this rare exception.

    That said, don’t get me started on the “Fug Girls” blog. Or rather, *do* get me started. I may write something about that soon…

  6. Paul Gowder Says:

    Oh please do start on the “Fug Girls” thing. I can’t do it myself, I’ve sworn off the phillipic except in cases of dire need.

    The MO thing that really bothered me was all the discussion of her ass in her election-day dress. I wanted to scream at half of the media and the internet: “you are being shallow and racist too!”

  7. Marissa Says:

    And to besmirch someone’s blog is worse than…?

    You admit you have “no idea” what role fashion plays in my life, nor anything else about me, yet you can confidently describe me as “really vile?”

    It’s humor. Lighten up. Life is *a lot* easier that way.



  8. Paul Gowder Says:

    Insulting cruelty directed at the appearance of strangers is not humor. It is vileness. I stand by the besmirching. Your “humor” is no better than the “humor” of “mean girls” and schoolyard bullies making fun of the less fashionable kids.

  9. arvita Says:

    Let’s preface this: yes, some may think I’m shallow. In the words of my not-so repressed valley girl: Whatever. I’m sorry Paul, but assuming the best about Marissa, I would chalk this up to humour, not vileness. Then again, I do spell humour with am extra “u”, so who knows if I am to be trusted. :)

    Some of her blog posts (madras, fur coat) are stupid, but others are decent (pantyhose with flip flops, the gory crime scene photos).

    Now I don’t think that fashion is self expression in the artistic sense (unless you are a designer), but I do think it expresses a certain level of comfort with oneself. Now, this goes back to the post dealing with Brain and EEP brilliance. One who dresses in a slovenly manner may be concluded to be a genius or a slob, all of this depends on their loquaciousness.

    The people on Marissa’s blog were either very comfortable with themselves, in that case who gives a hoot that she is criticizing them; or they are not, in which case, isn’t she doing them a service by exposing their faux pas?
    It isn’t that she’s pointing out that their fashions are from JC Penny instead of Armani (because that WOULD be mean), she’s just pointing out questionable combinations, which is helpful. Few people enjoy looking like fools in front of their peers, remembering to check to make sure they aren’t wearing stained sweatpants might be a nice reminder.

    Now her passion of choice isn’t particularly useful, but then again, neither is string theory, yet I see no blog posts on how writing papers on string theory is a waste of resources.
    Also, really, has no one reading this blog ever said something like, “Omigod, I can’t believe I just saw that walk by, how trampy is that?” Or perhaps, “WTF, socks with sandals?” It’s like being a grammar snob – it provide little concrete help, but the world is a little bit better when everyone appropriately uses their commas and semicolons.

    Well, I’m on to my 4th glass of wine, so hopefully this isn’t too poorly reasoned. Cheers, all! Oh, and, BTW, how many extra commas can I put in?

  10. Paul Gowder Says:

    Well, obviously I disagree. This woman is taking pictures of complete strangers on the street and holding them up to ridicule. It’s not about criticizing their fashion choices, which is just silly, not vile, it’s about publicly mocking them. And here’s a sample of the “humor”

    No really, why? What is the deal here? Either these women are straight up bat-sh*t crazy or they need to be schooled. And by “schooled,” I mean publicly humiliated. (Dammit, I wish more people read this.) Seriously, I don’t get how these two women ended up like this. If I had a heart, it would be breaking right now. I just feel sorry for them. Either they: 1) Can’t afford a mirror; 2) Don’t know how to use a mirror; or 3) Have no friends to tell them they look like complete assholes. Any way you look at it, it’s sad.

    Um, har, har, har?

  11. arvita Says:

    I guess this is where we differ. I too would hope that if I were out with a friend and had chosen to put on a ridiculous outfit that my friend would let me know that I looked idiotic. Then again, we’ve previously established that I care too much about what others think.

  12. Paul Gowder Says:

    Friend =/= stranger with a blog.

  13. arvita Says:

    Huh? I’m not that cool. What’s the =/= mean? The last emoticon I got was :P

  14. Paul Gowder Says:

    Hah, it’s an attempt to represent “does not equal.” :-) That is, I’d take clothing criticism from a friend (even though it would mildly annoy me), but from some random idiot blogger with a camera, no.

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