The Daily Gamecock

Column: Self-Expression isn't just for Halloween

Personal style in the 21st century is becoming more and more progressive. But there can still be a stigma surrounding fashion and gender norms, with many facing backlash for dressing outside of the binary.

Halloween can be a freeing holiday. Participants can dress up as whatever or whoever they want without judgement. It can be used as a day to try out that subversive style you were afraid of being judged for.

But Halloween shouldn’t be the only day to dress how you want. Personal style and self-expression shouldn’t have parameters, especially around gender. This only hinders people's comfort and sense of self.

We all have our own curated style. It’s personal and meaningful to us. However you dress, it is a major part of your self-expression.

For years, fashion was gendered, increasingly so in the '40s with blue and pink being defined as "boy and girl" colors, respectively.

These socially ingrained ideas of who should wear what is something that still pervades today, even with efforts to break out of the norm.

This keeps people from being true to themselves and from being comfortable in their own skin. Self-expression is one of the few things we can control about ourselves, and it should not be judged by others.

People should be able to try out feminine, masculine and gender-neutral styles without fear of backlash or humiliation. This creates a diverse population and celebrates individuality with progressive ideals. 

Fortunately, there have been increased efforts to change the social stigma around style. We see unisex and gender neutral style becoming increasingly popular both on and off the runway.

Our campus has many students who are expressing themselves regardless of societal standards. 

Quinn Cunningham, a fourth-year advertising student, and Jeramiah Macaspac, a second-year fashion merchandising student, are co-founders of the Style Club and are dedicated to fostering a community built on unique self-expression.

“College is a place where a lot of young adults are transitioning into adulthood. They’re trying to figure out what they want to be in the work field; who they want to become — find their identity. Style Club, in a sense, kind of acts like a lighthouse” Macaspac said.

Style Club highlights all different kinds of self-expression students use on campus. It acts as a community for those interested in diverse fashion.

Students are determined to express themselves on their terms, regardless of societal norms.

“I really like to take different influences from people that have affected me, either when it comes to the way I move or how I think, things like that, and try to incorporate it into my style,” Dayvis Luster, a second-year civil engineering student, said.

Taking inspiration from outside influences is a major component in curating style expression. Many credit the new wave of gender-bending fashion to famous figures such as Prince, Lady Gaga and Billy Porter.

Their unapologetic ideas about what it means to dress like a man, woman or other gender identity break down stereotypical images of gender and fashion.

With Halloween coming up, everyone’s clothing takes a wild turn for the night. The day can be used as a stepping stone to changing how you experiment with and experience style.

“It’s an opportunity to dress any way you want, without being questioned," Cunningham said.

Getting all dressed up isn’t something that has to be reserved for Oct. 31. We should not have to hide ourselves behind a guise of a costume.

Perhaps treating everyday like Halloween and letting people dress in whatever way they wish will make life feel more like a holiday.