Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Issue With "Femme" T-Shirts

Fashion is an incredible outlet to express ourselves and make a statement. Walking down the city streets, you can tell so much about a person based on what they wear. For that reason, it's also important to know the meaning behind what you buy before you strut down the train's platform. One new trend is the "femme" t-shirt. Tees with this word are sold in every mainstream shop: from Topshop, to Urban Outfitters and Pacsun. Yes, the word in French means "woman," but it has quite a different meaning in English. Didn't know that? Here's what you need to know before buying into this trend.

In the past year, women's rights advocacy has been pushed to the forefront as a new president entered the Oval Office and the Women's March gathered millions across the world. As women continue to raise their voices and demand change, the fashion industry began to reflect those demands in their designs. One major trend is t-shirts promoting female empowerment with slogans such as "Girl Power," "The Future is Female" and "Empowered Women Empower Women" popping up in every major store. However, the latest phrase that's printed by many large retail chains is "Femme Forever" or Femme Vibes." Seems harmless, right? Well, there's been major backlash to this. Let me explain why.


"Femme" may seem like the abbreviation for "feminine" or something along those lines, and with so many people sporting the phrase, it's appealing to jump on the bandwagon and wear your femininity on your chest. However, this isn't exactly what "femme" means. When you actually Google the definition for femme, you'll find the word is defined as "a lesbian whose appearance and behavior are seen as traditionally feminine." Not exactly what you thought it meant when you saw it sported by your favorite fashion blogger on Instagram, right? With the phrase hitting the mainstream market, members of the LGBTQ community are rightfully pushing back against straight women displaying the phrase.  

Their tweets make sense, don't they? To make money selling this phrase to a primarily straight audience isn't right – it's that simple. As these tweets exemplify, the word isn't ours, and when used incorrectly, it doesn't really empower anyone. And while it is okay to sport the term when clearly used in the French "woman" sense, such as with the top picture with a woman sporting a "la femme" tee, when it's paired with other English words like "forever" and "vibes," it's hard to make any more excuses. We are in a time of change, and because of that it's not only important to stand for what you believe in, but to know the meaning of the words you say, and even, the t-shirts you wear. In order to make the world a better place for everyone, it's our duty to be sure that we are respecting those around us.

Whether it's while marching with fellow women on the streets in D.C. or in our everyday life activities like shopping for clothing, we must continue to educate ourselves and remain mindful of all the great people in this country. So, the next time you're looking to buy into the latest trend, be sure it's a proper representation of you and your beliefs.

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