The Man Repeller. You all know who I am talking about. Leandra Medine coined the term when she started her now renowned blog by the same name in April 2010, which came after her own conclusion that her outfits were deterring men from her. Within days, the blog became a sensation and was covered by Style.com, Gawker, The Cut, and beyond. Within months, she was attending fashion week, front row, and not long after, walking in fashion week. And not too long after that, she managed to get engaged too. The rest is “fashion blogger history”.
But being sometimes referred to as The Man Repeller herself or The Original Man Repeller is a heavy title to hold. Earlier this week, Refinery29 published a piece depicting Leandra as the latest of a long line of man repelling women, and while she still held the title of the original, it was fascinating to see that man repelling has existed just as long as fashion has, starting with an Egyptian queen who insisted on wearing a fake beard, all the way to styling in the cult movie, Ghost Town.
Indeed, the beauty of man repelling is that we participate in it all the time and may have never noticed. Medine basically came along to put a name to the phenomenon – and perhaps one upped all of us with a few of her crazy ensembles. Her overwhelming success may have to do with her hilarious writing style, ability to own high fashion pieces, and her niche view point…but I think the real reason is that so many people felt they could relate. We participate in man repelling when we wear combat boots, tulle skirts, those popular Jeffery Campbell Litas, or color blocking. It’s the idea that women dress for other women, and even more so, for themselves. If we had left it up to the hetero men, we’d all be clad in leopard and red bandage dresses. After all those years of stressing over how our hair may be too short, or the dress too big, or the pants ill fitting – finally, the understanding that fashion is a space we own. Not men.
So while maybe none of us intentionally want to repel men, what we’re doing is participating in a form of expression, and I dare to go so far and call it a form of feminism. When you think about style like that, it isn’t just fun, it’s also extremely liberating. And not only that, but as Medine pointed out in an interview, it helps ward off superficial men. “Being a man repeller becomes a process of elimination,” Medine told Business Insider. “If a guy is only really into your outfit and won’t date you because of what you’re wearing, they are too driven by the female exterior and don’t care about your intellect.”
You want a sweet ending to the story of man repelling and the Man Repeller? She isn’t in fact man repelling, despite her glittery, feathery, and fluffy exterior. Less than two weeks ago Medine got hitched…while wearing a moto jacket, platform sneakers, and an arm party. The moral of this story? Wear what you want and stick to who you are. Surely, you’ll find someone who’ll want to stick to you because of who you are, too.