Finding Feminism in Fashion
Published: Friday, September 6, 2013
Updated: Saturday, September 7, 2013 13:09
Who is The Man Repeller? Who is the woman behind the blog that five million people come to each day for fashion inspiration, dating advice or a mere chuckle?
In her new book, Man Repeller: Seeking Love. Finding Overalls., successful blogger Leandra Medine comes out from behind the screen to reveal the real girl underneath those M.C. Hammer pants. Through a series of essays, Medine, who created her fashion blog in 2010, shares her story of becoming a blogger, a wife and an adult. Though she deals with more serious issues in her book she, fortunately, maintains the same humorous voice from her blog, making it quite an entertaining read.
Since 2010, The Man Repeller has been a voice for girls who value their overalls and harem pants more than their bandage dresses and skinny jeans. Medine’s blog recognizes that while trends like drop-crotched pants, turbans, shoulder pads and glorified mom jeans may take a brief place in the female fashion realm, they may send men running in the opposite direction. However, Medine is not afraid to don fashion’s boldest styles, even if they might repulse her testosterone-fueled companions.
Medine’s friend conceived the term “man repeller” in a dressing room while the two were trying on a variety of funky garments and whining about their failing love lives. Her friend pinpointed the problem: It wasn’t Medine’s personality that was unattractive to men, but her fashion ensembles.
Women who have a taste for more daring and high-fashion outfits, however, should not lose hope in finding a man, because — spoiler alert — Medine does finally find her soulmate. This romantic theme is the thread that brings all of her stories together, from the tale of the Bermuda shorts she wore incessantly in Capri to the one about picking out her wedding gown for her big day. While each story maintains a focus on fashion, the focal point of the book is Medine’s quest for the man she loves and her realization that before she could really fall in love with him, she had to fall fully in love with herself. Cliched though it might be, it happens that fashion was the agent that encouraged her to accept all of her own oddball qualities.
While her book preserves the blog’s sparkling and hysterical voice, it goes much deeper in content. Instead of focusing on the outfits, her book pays attention to the person wearing them. The narratives depict how garments become an extension of a person and, whether we realize it or not, that we each have an intimate connection with the clothes that we wear. Her harem pants became a symbol of independence, her Hermes clutch a tangible connection to her grandmother and her soiled white Manolo Blahnik pumps the realization of her quirkiness.
Man Repeller also has an element of feminism. It encourages women to dress for themselves and not for men. Fashion is self-expression; one should dress for herself personally and not for anyone else. While her novel is a light and playful read, Medine tries to impart as much wisdom as a 24-year-old woman can. Her honesty and talent in fully revealing her quirky self without holding anything back — you’ll read about everything from her weight problems to her period drama to losing her virginity — is an inspirational reminder that by embracing who you are, you’ll not only open yourself to people around you but also learn