So, today I was walking down a hallway of my dormitory. As soon as I turned the corner, I came face-to-…not face…with a student janitor. She was bending over, trying to grab something out of her cart – no big deal – but the word “LOVE” struck me rather prominently from its location on her…jeans pockets.
(Note: Do not try to Google these jeans; you will get nothing to show for it and might have some explaining to do if anyone else is in the room.)
Now, the last thing some feminists want to discuss is fashion – especially if said discussion is in a positive light. I, myself not a feminist, could go on for hours about how the fashion industry has been slowly self-destructing women in our culture for generations. I actually think that would be a wonderfully fun topic to discuss. As it is the day of Saint Valentine, however, I thought I would focus on something closer to home: the “love” phenomenon in fashion.
Now, I believe it goes through cycles, and I know fashion recycles itself every few decades, so this cannot be new. However, I feel it would be relevant to our culture to analyze it and make a conscious decision.
If I may, I would like to direct you to this Google search. As you can see, we have everything from Jesus to Yoshi to Ed Hardy to young girls’ clothing. Nearly everything has “love” on it, and these are just brand name companies: I haven’t even gotten into what self-publishing companies like Zazzle have.
In some cultures, “love” is a strong word. In Japanese, for example, “love” is such a strong word that it often goes unsaid, even among married couples. Here is an informal poll conducted among Japanese high school students on a very prominent Japanese/American message board, Japan-Guide:
We are Japanese high school students, 15 or 16 years old.
There are 46 students in our class.(27boys and 19girls)
We have discussed your question ,’Do Japanese say “I love you”?’, in our class.First, 12 out of 46 students answered they would tell their boyfriend or girlfriend “I love you”.
On the other hand, 34 out of 46 students answered they wouldn’t say it. Because they feel embarrassed to express “I love you” directly. They expect girlfriend or boyfriend to understand their feelings without words. If they use “I love you” many times, the word is getting worthless. That is why they won’t say “I love you”.
I’ll put the link to the thread at the bottom of this post, if anyone’s interested. As you can see, though, even among younger men and women, “I love you” is a pretty serious thing.
But is it here?
What does it say about our culture that the word “love” and all its nuances and connotations appears on our clothing, our jewelry, our purses? Does this cheapen the word? Does its repeated use make something considered by some to be near-sacred to be mundane, even banal? I, myself, own several V-necks from American Eagle Outfitters’s “Love” t-shirt line that ran several summers ago; I own heart-shaped necklaces, trinkets, and the occasional chocolate. (Unfortunately) I have to see and hear assorted people snogging and generally creating a fire hazard in the university’s halls.
Some people may argue that this is a trivial issue, and perhaps it is. However, very often these same people complain about the “Hallmark holiday” currently underway, scoff at stores bedecked in pink and red, gasp in disgust when they read about $200 bouquets purchased for the occasion in the Minnesota Daily.
I propose we, as all responsible thinkers must, look at modern culture and fashion as discourse. Sure, it may “just be a shirt,” but it says something. What do you think it says? Why?