npr

Gender By Us

Today NPR published a piece entitled, “For These Millennials Gender Norms Have Gone Out of Style.” To get to the point, these days men wear nail polish, women wear suits, and some Urban Outfitter’s employees wear whatever they pull out of the family dryer.

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To me, it comes as no surprise that the author, Lidia Kott, could round up three gender-benders from New York, San Fran, and D.C., respectively. I expect that people chilling around Haight Asbury might delve a little deeper to create a unique image. But for your everyday 14-to-34-year-old millennial is this really how we perceive reality? As Exhibit A, “normcore” seems to promote a more androgynous look is widely accepted. Also, we can’t forget the man bun — a possible move in the feminine direction? On the other hand, growing up in a Georgia suburb, while girls openly embraced camo, men weren’t really rushing towards nail polish, kilts, or, well, anything associated with a more traditionally feminine identity. Maybe my peers were the missing third in the Intelligence Group’s survey (or they thought people weren’t defined by their gender so much, they just didn’t know where those people were).

As sorority shirts look increasingly like the-shirt-you-wore-home-this-morning (complete with frocket) and frat daddies grow ever more colorful the later you venture into football season, maybe I am being generally unfair. But I fail to see how modern millennial gender norms (or abolishment thereof) seriously rival those of the flappers, the beatniks, or the hippie movement. Men’s hair was certainly more “feminine” in the 1960s and 1970s. And androgyny hardly beats bobbed hair and a straight frock. Ms. Kott does concede, “Mostly, you’ll see millennial women dressed femininely, and millennial men dressed masculinely. But many even conventionally dressed millennials are considering the ways in which gender might be flexible.”

What do you think? Do we dress and act differently? And if we don’t dress differently, do we feel fundamentally different about gender?

Kimono Crazy: Did you mean Festival Fringe?

My Mimi used to tell me, “When God was giving out _________, you must have been at the water fountain.” She would fill in that blank with anything from common sense to patience (depending on the variation of my mood of the moment). Well in the past week I’ve felt this way about the “kimono” craze. It’s like I walked to the water fountain, and when I got back everyone was decked out in gag-me-“Eastern,” amorphous pieces of drapey fabric, aka glorified “ethnic” or “tribal” rugs.

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Kimono?

Welp, now that it’s here I might as well all get myself an over-sized cardigan too. At least it would cover my failed attempts at tanning over Spring Break, and it comes not a moment too soon for festival season!

But now that we’re on the topic, let me just go ahead and voice the elephant in the room:  should this shameless cultural appropriation (“kimono”) be blamed on the artistic groupthink that is Coachella?

I know what you’re thinking, Rebecca, “kimono” translates literally into “thing to wear,” making it a perfectly apt word for these window treatments people are donning. And you have a point. Nevertheless, in a needless effort to curb Americans’ perceived ignorance (don’t remind me of freedom fries), I propose the term “festival fringe” to describe these flowy cardigans. Let’s be honest, its just as terrible as the word “kimono” in describing these articles. How to use it in a sentence?

Hey girl, do you have your festival fringe for Coachella?
My festival fringe is cray. I feel like Woodstock revisited.
I did NOT feel like getting dressed this morning. Thank goodness for festival fringe.

But I know, I know, many of you are unphased and would still like a good ol’ fashioned kimono, regardless of my commentary. So I’ve gathered a few recommendations.

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For those days you just feel like a geisha.

or this one!

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Did you mean haori when you said kimono?

And for those of you who want some jammin’ festival fringe. I got your back.

Festival FringeFestival Fringe by rarnall1 featuring River Island

Alternatively, maybe we could just revisit the word kaftan?
For more on English cultural appropriation and fashion, see this awesome NPR article on how we got the word pajamas (from India).
For all those of you who follow me via RSS feed, sorry for the mixup on polyvore/ wordpress publishing… I’ll get it one of these days.