When governments tell their citizens what they can and cannot wear, they are sending a signal about their own lack of confidence, says Rachael Jolley, editor of the Index on Censorship Magazine.
Writing in the latest issue of the magazine, Fashion rules, dressing to oppress: Why dress codes and freedom clash, Jolley remarks how:
"Banning any type of freedom of expression, often including free speech, or freedom of assembly, usually happens in times of national angst, economic downturn or crisis, when governments are not acting either in the interest of their people or the national good."
Also in the issue are discussions of how globally clothing is used to define people by social status, attacks on people because of their clothing and prison uniforms. Former Elle editor Maggie Alderson and Indonesian author Eliza Vitri Handayani both write about punk culture, while novelist Linda Grant writes about immigration and how clothing can be about fitting in and aspiration.
Jolley concludes, "We must support the freedom for individuals to makes choices, even if we do not agree with them personally. The freedom to be different, if one chooses to be, must not be punished by some kind of lower status or ostracism. National leaders have to learn that taking away freedom of expression from their people is a sign of their failure."
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