Oppressive Fashion

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Global Essay Oppressive Clothing
March 2011

Women have been faced with many challenges throughout history. A major example of this would be the fight for women’s rights and equality. Women worked and worked to attempt to gain equality with men and eventually triumphed. However, another challenge that women had to face was oppressive clothing and fashion. The corset, the practice of foot binding, and hijabs were all massive parts of oppressive fashion. Each served a specific purpose, but hindered women at the same time.

Foot binding was a practice in China that began around the 10th century. It lasted for a very, very long time in history – all the way up until the mid-20th century. Foot binding consists of pressing the toes up against the sole of the foot and tying it there. This was done to girls around age 5. The feet would first be numbed before the toes were broken and tied up. After the initial binding was done, the feet would require periodic attention and washing, to avoid serious infections. This process was extremely painful to women and the pain would last through their entire lives. The main reason behind foot binding was to “show-off”. The idea was that a girl who was foot binded came from a family that was rich enough that she didn’t have to work (meaning manual labor). Although, women who were foot binded could still walk, hike, and do minor field work. Women would wear beautiful silk slippers over their now-tiny feet. This fashion still hindered women greatly though. Through life the woman would have to suffer extreme pain and risk infections that could ultimately lead to death. The process would lead to lifelong disabilities. Foot binding has not been known to be implicated since the mid-20th century.

The hijab is a type of fashion that came from Arabian and Islamic beliefs. It is the style of dressing of Muslim women and still continues on today. This fashion generally means covering all of your body except for the face and hands. There...
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