Hello new friends! Well, perhaps it’s a little presumptuous to call you friends just yet. So for now I’ll say, Hello feminists, fashion lovers, floral connoisseurs, and hopefully-soon-to-be-friends! My name is Margeaux Natalie Feldman and this is my blog about fashion, feminism, body positivity, vintage clothing, thrifting culture, and my love of all things floral and 90s. When I was brainstorming names for this blog with my friends, my non-sexual life partner (as we affectionately call one another) suggested Floral Manifesto. I feel like this name really captures the reasons I decided to create a blog:
- It harkens back to a long history of feminist manifestos: from Valerie Solanas’ SCUM Manifesto written in 1967 (Solanas would shoot
and killAndy Warhol a year later**) and The Personal is Political by Carol Hanisch, who organized the 1968 Miss America protest, to more recent manifestos like the RIOT GRRRL Manifesto to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “We Should All Be Feminists” (can’t help but note just how amazing her novel Americanah is, in case you haven’t read it yet) and Grimes’ tumblr post “I don’t want to have to compromise my morals in order to make a living.” (And this is in no way an exhaustive list.) Women have long turned to the manifesto form to speak out against the patriarchal, misogynist culture that we have and continue to live in. In the 1960s, feminist manifestos became a way to advance the Women’s Rights Movement, and talked about how it was time for society to change how they viewed women: as housewives, the bearer of children, objects there for the pleasure of men. Today, women don’t have to stay at home and raise children; they can choose to have no children at all; they can become executives and CEOs; they can have safe abortions and obtain birth control; and, as of late, women in Canada no longer have to pay tax on tampons, pads, DivaCups, etc.! All of this is awesome! (It is, of course, important to note that there are women in other parts of the world who have yet to experience the same rights and privileges, and even still, many parts of the US — such as Texas — where women are still fighting for reproductive rights. And in fact it is also a problem in the Maritimes. My pal Andrea informed me that New Brunswick only began complying with the Canada Health Act and providing coverage for abortions under Medicare this January, and there are no doctors on PEI who will provide women with abortions at all. For more see this awesome documentary on Vice. )
Despite these advances – thank you, thank you, thank you to the first- and second-wave feminists who made these changes happen – we live in a world of “mansplaining” and “manspreading.” We live in a culture where rape and abuse are still prevalent and women are shamed and blamed for being the victims. Girls and women, myself included, still experience feelings of body shame on a regular, if not daily basis. We are taught that instead of being friends, we should be in competition with one another (Tavi Gevinson wrote an amazing piece on “Girl Hate,” for Rookie that I simply love). And I could go on and on…
A friend’s partner recently asked me: when do you think we won’t need the term “feminism” anymore? This question arose, in part, out of his frustration in the gendered nature of the term (“if we’re all supposed to be equal, then doesn’t the very term ‘feminism’ separate men from women?”) My answer to him was simple: when I no longer have to feel afraid walking home alone at night. In a recent conversation with a close friend, I added another: when girls and women no longer feel ashamed of their bodies. When “body positivity” doesn’t need to be a hashtag because all bodies are viewed as awesome.
- “Floral Manifesto” captures a supposed contradiction in terms: if you’re a feminist you should hate the fashion industry. And sure, there are many reasons to be critical about an industry that exploits women and promotes an image of the body that is unattainable and…gasp…even undesirable for many girls and women.
So when I say that I’m a feminist who loves fashion, it almost feels like a confession, like some deep, dark secret that I should be ashamed of: “Hi, my name is Margeaux. I’m a feminist…and I really, really, REALLY love cute dresses.” (I recently discovered my growing collection of baby doll dresses, or as I like to call them: dresses that make me feel like I’m wearing a bag, but a fashionable bag. See exhibits A-D below.)
It’s like when Roxanne Gay confesses to telling people that her favourite colour is black when really it’s really pink. Feminists who love to dress “girly,” wear makeup, and shave their armpits (stay tuned for an upcoming post on body hair) are told to ask themselves: is this really who you want to be? Or are you making these choices because men have told you to? I ask myself these questions all the time. And then I pause and ask myself: who is the one telling me what to want? Men? Or women? In reality it’s probably both. But the fact that it’s both is a bit startling to me. Feminism still has a ways to go.
One of the things that I want to do with this blog is think about what it means to be a feminist today: what work still needs to be done, what needs to change in how we define “feminism” as one “ism” instead of “feminisms.” I want this to be a safe space to talk about feminist issues, as well as sharing and thinking about the clothes that we wear. I also want to use this blog to celebrate bodies of different shapes and sizes. I have recently been feeling some serious shame about my body (I gained back some weight that I had lost and am having a hard time losing it…and then I feel bad about not just accepting my body as it is…it’s like a vicious shame spiral). So when a couple of friends suggested that I start a fashion blog, I thought that this would be a great way to celebrate my body and process my feelings on body shame, body policing, and body positivity.
I also believe that clothing can be a way of building communities amongst women – and so there will be many posts where I share my finds from clothing swaps and social media bartering systems, as well as pieces that I found at second-hand clothing stores. The fashion industry has done a good job pitting women against one another, so I want to explore the ways that fashion can bring us (back) together.
That’s all for now. I am really excited to share my outfits, ideas, and feelings with you all. I will end by leaving you with a photo-history of my love for floral (HINT: it begins at an early age…). I am curious to know if there are certain fashion pieces that you loved when you were younger and still love now. Was there a time in your life when you dressed quite differently than you do now? (As you will see below, there was a “dark period” both literally and metaphorically in my clothing choices.) What was that change all about for you? I would love to hear about it!
The early years…
The dark years…
[My mom passed away when I was 11, and the large-scale family photo documentation project ceased. There aren’t a lot of photos of me from 11-14. But in what follows you can see me move away from dresses and floral and curled hair to outfits that would make Korn, Finger 11, and Evanescence proud.]
The return to floral…
**Thanks to my wonderful partner for pointing out a little misremembering on my part. Solanas shot at Warhol 3 times, only hitting him once. Warhol would go on to live for many more years, dying of “some gall bladder thing” (quoting my partner) in the 80s. This is a lesson in fact checking what you think are facts.
This post was written by Margeaux