by Jessica Yoon
Something troublesome caught my attention this morning, and I’ve since been persuaded to write this article, despite the three finals and two papers looming over my head. Like most college students, I enjoy procrastinating a lot, but this doesn’t even fall under that category – I’m simply bothered.
My good friend Joe Boys directed me to the Twitter account @BCFashionPolice, and as a fairly avid Twitter user, I was glad to oblige. I began reading through this dubious entity’s tweets with increasing dismay and disgust at their haste to judge others based on something so superficial as attire, the venom of their rhetoric, their promotion of conformity and blatant contempt of individuality.
Boasting 383 followers at time of writing, BC Fashion Police aren’t entirely mistaken about matters of mere aesthetic: I neither consider “a [Victoria’s Secret] Pink sweatshirt paired with Pink sweatpants tucked into Uggs” to be an inviting outfit. But while my (and most sane people’s) cognitive and emotional involvement in the matter would end with the inclination to not don such an ensemble, BCFP consider it an outrage worthy of weeping (“… like exams didn’t make me want to cry enough”) and explicit vilification. In another tweet, they rant, “There aren’t enough words to describe my hatred for the girl in the orange fuzzy hoodie, sparkly blue Uggs, and neon yellow jeans/vest combo,” clearly underscoring the purpose of the account – “hatred.”
Indeed, this body of self-proclaimed fashion experts who have gratuitously commissioned themselves with a most unnecessary mission seems to take real pleasure in maligning people. One scathing tweet reads, “That pink cheetah print top really compliments [sic] your pink highlights!! Kool-Ade [sic] dye job?? You just ooze class.” BCFP appear very concerned with “class,” and though I don’t claim to comprehend their conception of it, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t consist of unprovoked spite, pointless abuse, or failure to master the distinction between “compliment” and “complement.”
They truly take their enterprise seriously – not even professors are safe from their tweeted disapproval: “Alright teachers you’ve gone too long without being called out. Get rid of the muumuus, rapist glasses and ill-fitting pants. PLEASE.” I find incredulous their enormous disrespect for professors, who are much more learned and wiser than students; and who, for our benefit, devote a significant portion of their endeavors to our edification. I personally don’t care if my professors come to class in capes so long as I learn from them, and in fact, I’m glad that my 65-year-old professor has enough (fashion) sense to not wear tight pants. And since I don’t know where (or whether) I should even start with BCFP’s use of the term “rapist glasses,” this will have to suffice: that’s all sorts of totally fucked-up.
Occasionally BCFP peppers their overwhelming negativity with “propz” like, “Thank you to the kind/informed souls who are brightening up this day with an array of rainbow [sic] Hunters #props,” “Propz to this betch in matching Burberry headband and jacket. A pleasant surprise from [sic] the drab Mac crowd,” and “I applaud (and thank) all of you sensible enough to sport Barbour jackets and classic Sperry’s.” I am skeptical of BCFP’s ability to deduce what being “kind”, “informed” or “sensible” might entail, but apparently wearing Hunter rain boots, Barbour jackets or Sperry Top-Siders are weighty considerations. I also remain unconvinced that any matchy-matchy getup (Burberry or otherwise) ever presents itself as a “pleasant surprise.” These few laudatory tweets are laden with grossly materialistic brand name-dropping and promote conformity to a preppy uniform at a place that is in no need of such encouragement.
I love BC, but one of the things that bothered me as a freshman (and does still, though I’ve now come to terms with it) is the homogeneity of the student body. Statistically, we are diverse enough, but a glance at social circles and friend groups reveals just how much the vast majority of us tend to befriend those who come from very similar backgrounds as we do. Of course, this is a natural phenomenon whereby we instinctively gravitate towards people who are like us – in personality, cultural background, athletic commitment, place of origin, random interests, dress, socioeconomic background, lifestyle, musical taste, race, ethnicity, language, vernacular, sexual orientation, and everything else – and it’s certainly not a bad thing in itself.
I don’t think I’m mistaken in saying that one of the largest groups on campus (or perhaps most visible because of its recognizability) consists of the archetypal BC undergraduate: white, wealthy, and preppy. This, too, is okay; there’s nothing wrong with many white, wealthy and preppy individuals being here. But few will deny that our student body, on the whole, seems to embrace conformity. Sometimes when I watch people while walking around campus, there’s a palpable air of wanting to belong – to fit in. We are unnerved by the unusual. And this is where the dominant BC culture turns problematic: when a few haughty people are so emboldened by their membership in the archetypal group that they begin to impose their ideas on others in a hateful spirit of contempt, derision, and disregard for individuality.
From their cowardly refuge of online anonymity, BC Fashion Police aims to undermine students’ freedom to dress however they please, advocating conformity in the most vigorous and obvious sense. They venerate brands, of all feeble things, and go so far as to urge, “Ladies: Stop wearing boys [sic] clothes. You’re not fooling anyone. We know you don’t have a boyfriend and you got that sweater from TJMaxx [sic].” Pause. For a just moment, let’s relish the immaturity and utter misery spewing from the proverbial mouth of this pathetic council of pitiable individuals, because no self-assured person would have neither motive nor strength for such exhausting negativity and hate.
Now, there is the highly implausible defense that the creators of BCFP intended the whole thing as a joke. In this case, I would like to tell them: if you, after reading this article and comprehending the scope of your absurdity, would now like to declare it a parody, I’m overjoyed. Your creative energies would be put to doubly better use elsewhere – perhaps towards a more complete mastery of grammar and diction. I hope you know what “[sic]” means, and that I used them judiciously, not maliciously. Getting over your professor’s muumuu so you can listen to her rather than “splitting [your] time in lecture between judging [other’s] outfits and online shopping” may also help, although I see you are “#sorrynotsorry.” (Aside: I beg you to never use that last phrase again – it is the sorriest.) Lastly, in case you think I’m just a *~HaTeR~*, I own Hunter boots (which I fear wearing here) and a tattered Barbour jacket (which I wear a great deal). It’s your attitude I have a problem with, not your clothes.
Finally, to the virtuous readers who have not recently taken to cyberspace as a hostile outlet for their unsatisfying lives, I would like to raise a proverbial toast to what is, undeniably, your own unique sense of fashion. The only person you should aim to please through your wardrobe is yourself. It doesn’t matter whether you care a lot about your attire or not at all – the people worthy of your acquaintance and friendship will judge you on the kindness of your heart and goodness of your character, not on the kinds of clothes you’re wearing (except maybe if they are extremely soiled or torn beyond recognition). Let’s take the spawning of BC Fashion Police as an opportunity to remind one another and ourselves that, although we often instinctively pass superficial judgments, we must carry on – more so than ever – striving for an environment that celebrates differences as a testament to individuality, and values nothing more than the integrity of someone’s character. You are you, and there is only one of you – so, do (what is true to) you.