Women who were dressing for the ‘male gaze’ have ditched outfits they think appeal to men in favour of edgy, eye-catching trends in a new social media trend.
The ‘male gaze’ is a feminist theory claiming that society is viewed through the prism of the masculine, heterosexual perspective – with men constantly objectifying women, often seeing them only as sexual objects.
The theory argues women have been conditioned from childhood to dress to please men, for example wearing typically feminine outfits, tight clothing and short dresses.
In a viral TikTok trend, users who say they’re style was dictated by what they thought men like, have showed off their new wardrobe now they’re choosing outfits based on their own taste.
Fashion blogger Lola, from Dublin, shared a video saying she had stopped dressing for the ‘male gaze’ which showed off her style before, including tight pink dresses with platinum blonde hair (left) and her new style, which sees her wearing baggy jeans and jumpers with brown hair and trendy highlights (right)
Fashion influencer Chloe, from California, shared picture of her style before dressing for the ‘female gaze’ (left), wearing a plain black minidress paired with sunglasses and white trainers and after (right), wearing a black leather jacket with green fur and black Dr Martins boots
Lola is pictured left wearing a tight pink minidress with a cropped midriff which she paired with a bejewelled bag. Right, Lola wearing a fashionable oversized blazer paired with trendy sunglasses with blonde highlights
A typical example of the trend sees users showing off what they wore ‘for the male gaze’ which tends to include short skirts, crop tops, neutral colours and minimal prints.
However when dressing for the ‘female gaze’, several users were seen in more flamboyant, colourful outfits which are often looser fitting with quirkier hairstyles and accessories.
Fashion blogger Lola, from Dublin, shared a TikTok video revealing how she wore tight dresses with minimal patterns and either blonde or brunette hair.
But her updated wardrobe includes loose fitting shirts in vibrant colours, baggy jeans and jumpers, and her hair is now its natural colour with trendy blonde streak highlights at the front.
Chloe is pictured left wearing a plain white vest paired with black striped trousers and a straw hat. Right, Chloe wears monochrome polkadot flares with a red statement jacket, trends sunglasses and a designer bag
Left, Chloe is dressing in a more simple and feminine way, wearing a short denim skirt paired with a leopard print blouse and black beret. Right, Chloe is wearing leather trousers paired with an oversized blazer
Chloe’s new wardrobe includes lots of layering, trainers, retro accessories and quirky prints and patterns
Before updating her wardrobe (left), Lola wore tight fitting, short dresses in plain colours. Now, the fashion blogger wears psychedelic prints in bright colours and oversized jackets
Examples of dressing for the ‘female gaze’ also included a daring lime green tank top paired with a cascading emerald skirt, as well as a psychedelic skirt and oversized black blazer jacket.
Her video racked up over 6,000 likes and one user commented on Lola’s video: ‘Nothing wrong with the first at all, but it’s clear that the second is more you and that’s what matters most, dressing to make you happy.’
Fashion influencer Chloe, from California, also shared a TikTok video of her previous outfits, such as denim jeans, skirts, plain blouses, simple dresses and feminine, floral prints.
However her updated style includes statement pieces including monochrome polkadot flare trousers which she paired with an oversized red jacket and Dr. Martens boots, and she said she’s ‘so much happier now’.
Before updating her style (left) Chloe wore feminine clothing such as a floral mini dress. Now, the fashion logger wears more eye-catching designs including patterned trousers and waistcoats
Lola, pictured before and after updating her wardrobe, wore tight fitting outfits which she thought would appeal to men. Now, she wears fashionable outfits including an emerald green skirt paired with a lime green cropped shirt
Chloe is pictured left wearing plain clothing and short denim shorts. Right, she wears loose fitting jeans aired with a bomber jacket and fashionable accessories
Other outfits includes leather flare trousers with a loose fitting blazer, a leather jacket with a green, fluffy hemline and her wardrobe now includes lots of layering, trainers and retro accessories.
Captioning the video, the blogger insisted she’s ‘so much happier now’ while users agreed that dressing for the ‘female gaze is freeing’.
Speaking to Refinery29, Dr Lauren Gurrieri, Senior Lecturer in Marketing at RMIT University, claimed that the ‘male gaze’ means women are viewed as objects of ‘desire and pleasure’.
‘The male gaze reflects expectations of how women’s bodies are supposed to look and what is aesthetically required of women – which in turn positions women as sexualised, idealised and objects of heteronormative desire and pleasure’, she said.
‘Dressing in more stereotypically feminine ways then operates as the other side of this dynamic — with femininity traditionally associated with marginalised meanings of submissiveness, decorativeness and frivolity.’