Dressing up mindfully: what does your style reflect?
What gave you the first inspiration to launch the campaign?
As the motto of the campaign goes: “If your heart is not on display, why would your body be?”. On social media, in the offline world, in the street or at school, and at the workplace, we see the opposite of this motto many, many times. I think young people have an even more difficult task because of these tendencies. I sense that they hear very little about dressing up, and they have huge ammounts of bad, vulgar examples coming at them, which that inluence their self-esteem and body image in a bad way.
Last spring, I met a schoolgirl whose school banned shorts, but they haven’t explained the reason behind it. Later, she posted a photo of herself on Facebook, in which she looked way older, with the typical duckface and showing everything she has. She received negative, obscene comments that have really upset her. She needed help to process all of it because even though her body looks like an adult, 25 year-old woman’s body, her soul is still of a 12 year-old little girl’s, who didn’t think about the effects we have on others with the way we look. This and other similar cases have made me think.
On the other hand, I also think, if it possible to openly talk about who flashed which body part, it should be possible to talk about thinking twice about what, when and to whom we show.
How would you define being mindful about dressing up, which is the main message of the campaign? How can dressing mindfully help young people?
As I mentioned we provoke reactions with the way we dress, because we communicate with our clothes too. This has been in the center of humanity for a long time. We have dressed differently for different occassions. As I see it and as my campaign partners see it, today it is not obvious anymore. Not even that we should dress for school or for work that it should be in accord with the task we have to do that day. Often times for workplaces where the dress code is smart casual the workers can’t adapt this to summer slothes and they show in fliflops of clothes reminding of swimwear. There are very few good examples.
Our body is valuable and reflects our insides. Krisztina Bombera in her campaign video has expressed that female dignity and selfesteem reflects through the way we dress. She, as a television journalist sees that teenage girls wearing less clothes and posting such pictures about themselves to receive likes mean they need love and attention. Parents and mothers hence have a huge responsibility in strengthening self-esteem and confidence. Not only her, but a young girl who has messaged us sees it this way as well.
What are the tools you are using during the campaign to grab attention and to make the message reach the targeted group?
Youngsters spend loads of time online and oversexualized content is just pouring down on them, it is not guaranteed that they are ready to select what’s valuable and what is not, from this river of information. The campaign also attempts to show this with spots or Instagram and Facebook messages.
Several media personalities and experts have joined, for example Krisztina Bombera television journalist; Erika Kósa businesswoman and the founder of Kósa Erika Akadámia; Dr Miklós Schiffer style-expert; Eszter Gyurácz presenter at ATV; Réka Szentesi historian, fashion researcher; Enikő Császár founder of the fashion brand Pretto; fashion designer; and Janka Nagy child psychologist. Several organizations also support us, such as the Internation Children’s Safety Service, Safer Internet Program, Happy Family – Family Infoportal and many more. We are continuously making videos, interviews with them too. What’s more, young boys and girls also sent us their opinions and articles, that can be read on our blog and website as well. We frequently publish motivating and informative messages on our Facebook and Instagram pages, too.
You surely remember the campaign in state television a few years ago, that has stirred great controversy. It suggested something like that the girl who is going out to party has to prevent abuse by dressing and behaving accordingly. Then many people said the campaign is essentially victim-blaming. Aren’t you afraid that Dress Up! would be similar to some?
I’m not afraid and I’m absolutely prepared for this. Firstly, we are not blaming anyone, secondly, we help victims, thirdly we advise parents not to blame their children if bad things happen. However we cannot deny that the way we dress provokes reactions from other people and if a teenage girl send naked photos to her boyfriend, she can get into trouble. Sadly there are enough examples for this, in the USA for example a 13 year-old girl had sent such pictures that the entire school received later. Poor girl was so ashamed she commited suicide.
Dr. Krisztina Baracsi internet lawyer, advisor of the International Children’s Safety Service Safer Internet Program, says that by safe internet usage, lots of trouble can be prevented. She strongly advises not to start blaming the children or hold them accountable as this destroys the trust children need the most in these cases. Childen are never the ones to blame, but those who made them send those pictures, put them into this situation where it is too difficult to say no and they are very vulnerable, she emphasizes in the video.
In a TV interview, you talked about young people undressing and wearing shorts during the summer. When you go to a shop, you mostly find these shorts or full length, tight jeans, and there is very little exception. What do you think, is it more about young girls who wish to undress or a certain fashion culture and industry that starts to sexualize young girls from a very young age and leaves barely any options apart from shorts?
It is sad to see that little girls grow up in this environment where the outside is showed to have a bigger or at least more spectacular importance than inside values. Yes the fashion industry has a huge role in this, as well as media and the consumer society. Shopping is the most common addiction of our age.
40% of children under 15 and quarter of people aged 15-20 said that buying a new product makes them happy each and every time. If we are not paying attention to this, it can quickly suck us in. The choices gen Z people make are way less rational than it used to be 15 years ago. The companies who hire influencers know very well that this generation make decisions and choices on an emotional basis.
It is the youtubers and vloggers who actually influence young people’s opinion and taste. Young girls, before buying anything, check out what their favorite fashionbloggers recommend to their tens or hundrends of thousands of followers. It is not by mistake that several, mainly American and Western European and more and more Hungarian companies choose to advertise their products with bloggers to reach the targeted group. Of course, there are ones with valuable content and ones with cheap content.
Influencers with a large follower audience sometimes find it hard to pass up on bigger sums of money and often time they show what they should not or endorse products they don’t actually believe in. Despite that they should have a big responsibility mainly for their young followers, the ones they get their money for.
The exhibition showing what those were wearing who were sexually assaulted when the assault happened became quite famous. The clothes on display show they weren’t wearing anything special. What do you think, where does protecting ourselves with the way we dress ends and where respecting the other person’s integrity no matter what they wear begins?
Those rapists who commit these bestial acts certainly don’t choose the victims by their clothes. On the other hand, I don’t understand why we should deny the fact that dressing up is a way of communication, and that more and less provoking clothes both exist.
Why should we socialize children to dress sexy, like stars? Why can’t we explain to 11-12 year old girls why people turn their heads towards them when they are wearing shorts in the street? Why don’t we do everything to revent sexting spreading rapidly among kids under 18? Why don’t we do anythig when we see that young girls' self-esteem is extremely low? Why do many foreigners assume that our country is full of prostitutes? Why do we confuse style with vulgar?
What are your top practical advice, having said all this, about dressing up especially during the summer?
The campaign doesn’t aim to establish dress-codes. I might be able to give one thing to take away: before we get dressed, let’s think about our day, where we are going, what we are going to do, and let’s dress up appropriately. Evaluate what others would think looking at our outfits online and offline, too.
The interview was made by Anna Kőszegi
Képek: Dress up! and Freepik