Emily Blake on Battling Society's Dress Code

story by Simra Ahmed

illustration by Joyce Jiang

Feminism and fashion have always had a complex relationship. Historically, clothing has been used as a way to demand conformity from women, or objectify and sexualize them. Fashion industries have been dominated by the male gaze. Even in the modern day, it seems like women can't win, fashion-wise--women who dress modestly are mocked, women who dress religiously are scorned, women who dress liberally are slut-shamed, women who dress 'femininely' are underestimated, women who dress 'masculinely' are asked if something is 'wrong' with them.

Now, meet the girl who's smashing all of those stereotypes: Emily Blake, an 18-year-old student at the renowned women's institution, Barnard College.

Using the platform “Wednesday Zine," Emily embraces the idea of inclusive feminism, with a particular emphasis on fashion. For Emily, this means educating the public, specifically other womxn, on a variety of topics from fashion to politics, because everything can be interpreted and embraced with a feminist, inclusive lens.

Blake is pushing a new narrative, one in which feminists can empowered by anything they find meaningful, whether it be a singular issue or a myriad of interests. “Wednesday Zine” was created by Blake in 8th grade when she recognized the lack of awareness of women’s rights at her school. Starting off as a couple of articles relating to pro-choice rights and sexism, Blake quickly realized that she was not alone. Now, Wednesday is a radical online platform, completely composed and cultivated by a diverse group of girls no older than the age of 19. This provides a distinctive quality which makes Wednesday directive towards and for the youth of the world.

As I scrolled through the Wednesday Zine Instagram page, a couple things popped out to me immediately. The first, obviously, is the unique name, which provides a dimension that is continuous with Blake’s emphasis on inclusive feminism. Wednesday Zine is inspired by none other than Wednesday Addams from the Addams family; as a stark feminist, Wednesday believed herself and her values, disregarding any opposing opinions. That, and, of course, that fact that that Wednesday’s aesthetic is also just iconic."

This significance on fashion supports the inclusive feminist milieu; Wednesday Zine’s Instagram bio proudly states “We don't think fashion is trivial." Blake recognizes the damaging stereotype of how fashion is a vain interest for foolish girls. Recognizing the ignorance behind this, through Wednesday Zine and her own personal Instagram, Blake is reframing fashion as a statement of feminist self-expression. To her, fashion can be a form of protest, a projection of one's own interest and place in the world. Her attentiveness to fashion stems from the sexist dress code she faced in school, as it directly contradicted her belief on how fashion cultivated creativity and expression of femininity.

Inclusive feminism is critical to the cosmopolitan growth of women empowerment, and Blake is a proud part of that wave of feminism. She is focusing on educating females on any topic of interest, whether it be on political issues or fashion or health; Emily Blake is ensuring that young feminists are being heard, are being educated, and are being part of the change.

You can visit their website at https://wednesdayzine.com/ and catch up with Emily herself at @alienemz on Instagram.