Our society seems to progress and push boundaries at an exponential rate. Well that is until we get taboo and bring up religion. But is the fashion world pounding at these walls as well? Has religion become fashionable?
Some years ago, a tiny, seemingly inconsequential sideways cross necklace, worn by a not-so-tiny fashion blogger got the proverbial snowball rolling. The clamor began and soon evolved into a similar item, but worn on the hand instead. Chain retail stores quickly caught on, as they always do. Even with their ability to mass produce, they couldn’t keep the much-sought-after ring in stock. Fashionistas desperate to be on the inside had no problem shelling out the big bucks for these ‘it’ items on resell sites like ebay. The cross was no longer purely a symbol of faith, it had become a symbol of fashion status.
As the editorial world also does, they caught wind of what was happening in the blogging world. Editorials soon began incorporating religious imagery, such as Numero’s issue 110. Even designers were playing the game, like Rick Owens who had heavy Catholic undertones in his runway shows. Soon pedestrian fashion wasn’t limited to to the cross—retail had given us the rosary, and an insane amount of religious graphic tees. That ubiquitous cross necklace had evolved into a full-scale fashion movement.
Naturally there was bound to be some resistance with religion being such a hot button topic. Is it offensive to sensualize religion like the magazines are doing? Is it in poor taste to wear a rosary as if its a necklace? Should something such as fashion be mixed with religion at all?
Firstly, allow me to address the issue of wearing sacred symbols. There is major significance behind a rosary, the crucifix, a mala, the star of david, or any other religious symbol. But that significance is entirely subjective. It is only of importance to those that adhere to the religious faith in most instances. Now that doesn’t mean that someone outside of the faith can’t respect the symbol. I think that’s where the confusion comes in. Some people may assume because someone doesn’t follow there same faith, they can’t possibly manage to muster up any respect for it. Untrue. But in order to respect something, you do need to have a basic understanding of it. Which means putting forth an effort to learn and see where the other person is coming from. I do feel that wearing a crucifix with no idea at all what it means to a Catholic is the wrong way to go about things. Now I’m not saying one way or another whether you should go about piling on the religious symbols, merely that it is a good idea to always be open minded and aware of other people’s feelings.
That brings me to another point. We can’t be so afraid of offending others that it leads us to inaction. I am by no means saying that you should go out of your way to tread on other people’s beliefs. But a certain amount of controversy and pushing the boundaries brings about change and progression. Which, yes, are good things the majority of the time.
Ultimately, I believe that fashion is an art form. And art has no limits or bounds. There are very few things in this world that should be censored—except maybe politicians. Everyone should be entitled to express their opinions, beliefs, ideas, thoughts, viewpoints through their image, music, art, words, or what have you. Of course, as long as they aren’t blatantly degrading someone else’s opinions and beliefs.
by Grace Gulley
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Religious Imagery on Clothing