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 Julia Fox recently appeared on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour with Emma Barnett, where she discussed her style transformation and how she no longer dresses to appeal to the male gaze. Fox mentioned that men often criticize her outfits and compare her to her character in the film Uncut Gems, but she doesn't let their opinions bother her because she dresses to please herself and the women and LGBTQ+ community who appreciate her unique style. This resonated with me personally as I have also embarked on a similar journey over the past five years. It's been about rejecting societal expectations, challenging patriarchal control over fashion, and defining my own sense of desirability. Fox expressed that she used to unknowingly dress to please the male gaze, but something changed, possibly motherhood or being in the public eye, and she decided to no longer uphold that expectation. Instead, she now dresses for herself and for the girls who appreciate her true identity.


This concept is not new; in 2010, Leandra Medine Cohen published "Man Repeller," an online magazine that was once her personal blog. 2020 saw its closure due to complaints that the business was not diverse and had mistreated former POC employees. Cohen and her writers promoted an eccentric, nerdy aesthetic that combined high fashion with accessories like wide-brimmed glasses, over-the-top sleeves, sandal-accessorized socks, culottes, and hats in abundance. Although it wasn't revolutionary and primarily catered to white, able-bodied, slim people, it did raise an important question: for what purpose should women dress?

On the surface, this all might feel a little outdated and patronising. Women are autonomous, they are free-thinking and fashion forward, and they do not think about men when they dress! A lot of this is true, on a conscious level, but I don't think it accounts for certain realities: we live in a patriarchy, men still run the fashion world, and that is going to impact how we dress on a micro level. More than 85% of students from top fashion schools are female, but only around 14% of the top 50 fashion brands are run by women.