Some people dismiss clothes and fashion as function or frivolity.
But in fact, the outfits we choose say a lot about us and how we wanted to be regarded by the wider world.
Carolyn Hashimoto, from Annan, is exploring this concept for her Masters in creative writing.
As part of that, she has started an online literary magazine, Skirting Around, looking at how women’s clothing defines and influences in both positive and negative ways.
Explaining more, Carolyn said: “Skirting Around is a new online journal focussing on women’s clothing – exploring how it can empower and endanger, enlighten and entrap, oppress and liberate.
“It also aims to tap into larger issues surrounding women’s clothing, including body shaming, victim blaming, sexism, rape culture, transgender issues, feminism, empowerment, religious clothing and clothing that has been banned.
“I’m really keen for this journal to open up the wider political, social and cultural issues surrounding women’s clothing.”
The idea first came to her in 2016 after she saw four armed policemen encircle a Muslim woman on a French beach and order her to remove her clothing because they wrongfully assumed she was wearing a banned burkini.
Carolyn said: “It made me realise just how powerful a reaction a piece of clothing can cause, and also how vulnerable clothing can leave women. On the other side of that, clothing can also really empower women and transform their lives, and I just felt there was so much material there for a thought-provoking journal.”
She is appealing for submissions and wants to hear from both fashionistas and those with a more limited wardrobe.
Carolyn, who studying with the University of Glasgow, continued: “Has the height of your heel or the length of your skirt lead to uninvited comments or sexual harassment? Has your religious dress made you a target of abuse?
“Have you been forced to wear something against your will? Have you been made to remove an item of clothing?
”Or, maybe you’re dying to share a poem about a favourite jumper that your grannie knitted you. Or about the gift of a suit that lead to a life changing job interview, or pen a poem to the dress that made you feel like a supermodel.
”From mini-skirts to maternity bras, bikinis to burkas, saris to swimsuits, high heels to hijabs, chest binders to chintz shirts and everything in between – we want to hear about it. Dig deep into your collections and shed some new light on the clothes that have defined you.”
Keen to include as wide a range of voices as possible, she wants to hear from anyone with something to share and added: “Skirting Around is open to anyone who identifies as female and/or wears or has worn women’s clothing, and is inclusive of all cis, trans and intersex women, non-binary and gender fluid people, drag queens and cross dressers.
“I’ve had several very exciting pieces from both local artists and writers, and also from Japan and America already. I would love to hear from as wide a range of voices as I can.”
All forms of writing are welcome – poetry, prose, creative non-fiction, essay, hybrid forms – as well as visual art and photography.
The deadline for contributions is March 15, with a virtual launch party planned for April. Carolyn then hopes to publish an anthology of work from the website later in the year.
To find out more, go to www.skirtingaround.org.