Blue Prints

Marginalized groups deserve cultural credit

Richard Nakatsuka, Features Editor

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There’s something inherently
insulting about something
becoming “mainstream.”
The fact is this: mainstream
culture would not exist without
minority and marginalized communities.

Overwhelmingly, groups of
people who are forced to the
fringes of society are the catalysts
for revolutionary cultural
milestones.
Without the LGBT community,
fashion would not have
evolved to the level that it is
now.
The connection between the
gay community and fashion
is undeniable. Major fashion
designers are openly gay, and
have been for a long time—even
before it was acceptable. Tom
Ford is gay. Jean-Paul Gaultier is
gay. Michael Kors is gay.
Still not convinced?
Alexander McQueen. Alexander
Wang. Giorgio Armani.
Cristobal Balenciaga. Valentino
Garavani. Yves Saint Laurent.
Gianni Versace. The list goes on.
But that’s not the point.
More importantly, more often
than not, the same people who
belittle marginalized groups are
the same people who eventually
end up adopting that group’s
customs once they’ve become
common enough.
Take cuffed jeans, for example;
they’re everywhere now.
Look down at other people’s
ankles for just five seconds in
the hallway during passing and
I guarantee you that someone
wearing a pair of Levi’s rolled up
past their ankles will stroll by.
Trends like this seem to come
out of nowhere, but that’s simply
not how it works. Someone
saw someone else doing it and
thought, “hey, why can’t I do
that?” But it has to come from
somewhere.
For this, I point to lesbians,
specifically those living in the
New York City area in the early
90s.
A quote from George Michael,
of WHAM! fame, speaks on the
old phenomena of cuffed jeans.
“Andrew and I didn’t realize how
homoerotic our image was. We
had leather jackets; we had these
cuffed jeans. We just thought it
was cool.” The tight shirts and
cuffed jeans that they made so
popular were symbolic of male
sex workers in New York City in
the 60s.
Because of this association,
cuffed jeans were a distinctly
male or tomboy-ish thing to
wear, and so some of the mem-
bers of the lesbian community
who identified as “butch” began
to wear them. This style faded
with the 90s.
As the 2010s rolled around,
interest in the fashion and
culture of the 1990s began to
grow among young adults. As
such, people began to wear the
styles that were popular then.
People began to cuff their jeans;
inadvertently, they are imitating
the style of butch lesbians.
We’re all imitating the fashion
of butch lesbians.
I cannot even begin to describe
the irony of the moment
when I hear a student, who is
wearing cuffed jeans, say the
word “faggot.” You’re quite literally
wearing gay clothes.
And yet, you probably didn’t
know any of that. Why? Because
marginalized groups are consistently
erased from their own narratives,
no matter how dominant
they are in that field.
I’m not saying don’t try new
fashions.
Absolutely do; in fact, always
do.
Rather, what I am pushing
for is an increased understanding
of the fact that true ingenuity
comes from the fringes
of society. It is hypocritical to
condemn members of marginalized
groups while simultaneously
adopting their cultural norms as
a fashion statement.
Understand that what you
find fashionable came from
an oppressed or otherwise
disadvantaged group and use
that knowledge to support that
group.

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Marginalized groups deserve cultural credit