Why The Fashion Industry Needs A Day Without A Woman

A letter from our editors.

Dear International Women, 

Today, you have been called to strike simply to prove your worth. This is not limited to any country or industry, and this is not a threat against employers. It is a global stand for the value of equality. It is the rallying of women to show the effect they have on the world by taking a day off.

 


It was a tumultuous start to Paris Fashion Week, when an Instagram post from casting director James Scully was published, accusing some of the industry's biggest names of gross mistreatment, racism and the violation of child labor laws. Lanvin, for example, was alleged to have sent out a mandate to casting agents stating that it "[does] not want to be presented with women of color." A spokesperson for the brand quickly denied the accusation, but at the label's runway show the next day, just four out of 41 models made up the cast's non-white demographic. 

Then, just yesterday, Saint Laurent published a poster campaign that is a degrading and humiliating representation of women. In one image, a female model poses in fishnets and a fur coat, legs spread. In another, a model in a leotard and roller skates bends over a stool, lifeless. The poses are sexualized in a way that is not empowering the women, but instead makes them appear submissive. The imagery is almost violent, and we are appalled by Saint Laurent's decision to run such a decidedly deviant campaign that perpetuates such a dangerous message: that women are sexual objects.

Why does this continue to happen? Why, in 2017, are women still hyper-sexualized, objectified and reduced to these kinds of pornographic representations? Welcome to the 21st century, where  the world is still a dangerous place if you're female. And more so if you're a minority. Why is it considered a novelty to represent a diverse range of models? How is it that the industry has embraced mixing men and women on the runway in increasingly genderless collections, but still refuses to cater to plus-sized women, black women, Asian women, disabled women? We look up to people like Iman, who have challenged the industry's standards time and again. We applaud brands like Chromat, which has always represented a broad mix of women. 

The fashion industry purports itself to be more inclusive than ever, meanwhile we discover the bigotry is simply happening further and further behind the scenes. The recent scandals, in our own home city of Paris, were brutal and timely reminders of the need for our voices to demand for greater protections and equality.

We won’t be silenced, and as writers in a digital era, we have an enormous power to let ourselves be heard. Our team is almost entirely female, and so are our readers. At WTG we feel a responsibility to represent all women – of different shapes, sizes, backgrounds and orientations – without fanfare. Why? Because we don't believe that diversity is a marketing tool. We write honestly, and we hope that comes across. Dorris Lessing and Michelle Obama are among many women who have handed us the tools to continue building a future that is more fair. We hope to use the Internet as a platform to make our feminist icons proud, and we will not be overlooked.


Which is why we have made the decision not to strike today. But we do want to show our support to those exercising their right to a day without women. We've even assembled a list of suggestions of how to use this day to participate in the ongoing fight for equality. Want to roll up your sleeves and volunteer with the National Organization for Women? Go for it. Planning to polish off Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex?  Sounds like a plan. This event is one born out of goodwill and liberation.As explained on the official Women's March site, a Day Without a Woman is "a recognition of the enormous value that women of all backgrounds add to our socio-economic system — and the pervasive and systemic gender-based inequalities that still exist within our society, from the wage gap, to vulnerability to discrimination, sexual harassment, and job insecurity.” Today, we hope for our sisters to share moments like the uplifting finale of the Stella McCartney FW17 show (cue George Michael’s Faith, The Beatles’ All You Need Is Love soundtrack). 

But we also acknowledge the women who can't afford a day off, or the small business owners who don't want to hurt themselves by closing for a day. We admire their grit and perseverance and will be wearing red in solidarity. 

Women's day is about celebrating the courageous, pioneering females all over the globe who inspire us. It's a moment to thank those defending women's rights, as much as it is a moment to acknowledge our mothers, daughters, sisters and friends. While today marks a particularly poignant International Women's Day – when we have been called to strike simply to prove how impactful they are – don't let it be the only occasion that you celebrate the women in your life. Every day, women work tirelessly to prove themselves in a male-dominated world: they are paid less, praised less, worked harder and worked under unjust pretenses. Let the women in your life know just how much they mean to you. Let the women in your life know that they are appreciated. Let the women in your life know that they are more than just women: they are equal humans whose defining characteristic is not their gender but their ability to create change in this world. 

On behalf of our whole editorial team,
Amanda Randone, Editor-in-Chief (R), and Alice Brace, Deputy Editor (L)