The Choker Catastrophe

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Anaiya Pratt

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LVA Spring Look Book
March 22, 2017

   Online fashion retailer ASOS introduced a line of “men’s” chokers, and it evidently created a rift among individuals early in the new year. Twitter users replied in fury: underneath the original announcement, the common response did not accept the very idea of a choker being for a man. Some added that men should not wear dresses, makeup, heels, or anything feminine related. This discourse sheds light on a much larger issue than pieces of fabric – the concept of gender roles, especially in fashion and the detrimental effects of hypermasculinity.

   At LVA, expression is a fundamental part of who students are. Students embrace who they are and wear whatever they choose no matter their gender. There is a seismic shift in fashion here, a widening acceptance of a style with no boundaries. Students possess fashion fluidity at this school like no other.

   However, not everyone is so accepting, and in order to be themselves, students have faced criticism. Musical theater major, Lorenzo Lukban, 10, says, “I wear heels. Random people have asked me, ‘Are you even a dude?’ I mean it’s a pair of shoes. I’m not going to let other’s opinions dictate my life because I know what I know. It’s my life, and I can wear whatever I want.”

   Hypermasculinity takes everything to the extreme. People dislike men wearing “women’s” things because femininity in men is perceived as weak and undesirable. Some men feel as though they must “defend” their masculinity, and in turn, discourage those are less masculine than them.

   Theatre major, Jose Guadalupe Manriquez, 12, does not let the criticism of others faze him, saying, “What I wear does not define my gender or sexuality, it expresses my fashion sense and personality.” When he started wearing crop tops at the end of his sophomore year, strangers and would stare at him, in silent confusion. To Jose, those who belittle others for being themselves and living their lives are preventing us as a society to grow, saying,  “People who waste time focusing on the negative are only going to set us back and we need to constantly keep evolving and growing. I believe they need to let people do what they please.”

   Men who act or dress stereotypically feminine are more likely to be harassed or bullied because they are simply different.

   Guitar major, Gabe Kline, 11, knows what this feels like. He wears various articles of clothing from the “women’s” section, and when he is out in public strangers will give him rude looks and call him names. “I’m mocked because I am not living up to what a boy ‘should’ be. I don’t understand why people have to put a specific gender on something as simple as fabric. Why is it an abnormality for me to dress and do things that I want and feel comfortable with?”

   Men are ridiculed for having feminine traits, mannerisms, and clothing. There is nothing wrong if you like and embrace your particular masculine characteristics, but that does not mean you get a pass to attack others if they embrace their femininity. Everyone is different; Fashion evolves, even for men.