Fashion-forward feminism


She wore a skirt that hovered a couple inches above her knees and a sweater that stopped just where the skirt began high on her hips. The buttoned shirt under the sweater cinched snugly around her neck.

She took her first steps down the stairs with eyes gazing down at the steps she was taking in her high heels. Against the greens and grays of the hallway and the masses of students wearing jeans and t-shirts, senior Jourdan Gilbert stood out.

On any day, Gilbert can be seen scaling a hallway or turning a corner with a flowing silk dress or skirt cascading behind her, but never is Gilbert seen wearing denim jeans or tennis shoes. This has less to do with an aversion to casual clothes and more to do with Gilbert’s sense of style.

“Mainly that’s because I lived basically my entire childhood thinking that I wouldn’t be considered strong if I was considered girly,” Gilbert said. “Eventually, growing up and going through high school I was like, ‘I like dresses. I like looking pretty. I like wearing makeup,’ I just really like looking pretty.”

For Gilbert, catching people’s eye is empowering.

“I like the attention if I’m being honest,” Gilbert said. “I like being known for my fashion sense instead of something else.”

As well as the gratification that comes from being recognized for her fashion sense, Gilbert finds fulfillment in knowing that what she wears can empower others to wear something they wouldn’t otherwise feel comfortable wearing to school.

“I feel me dressing like this lets other people know, ‘Hey, she wears skirts and heels and stuff to school. I can start dressing nice to school,’ and [that] it’s not a big deal,” Gilbert said.

When Gilbert is not seeking out new trends, she has been actively involved in Shebron, the school’s feminism club, since it began in January. According to Gilbert, her sense of style works to break down stereotypes about feminists.

“People always think [feminists] dress all masculine, and they think that [feminists] can’t dress feminine,” Gilbert said.  “And I get it all the time… They’re like ‘Oh you’re a feminist, but you’re such a girl.’ I can’t believe people actually say that to me.”

Gilbert also gets furrowed eyebrows when she explains her sexuality.

“People are all like ‘Oh, you’re a lesbian?’” Gilbert said. “‘You can’t be a lesbian because you dress so feminine.’ I feel like it just [makes] me wanna dress even more girly and show people that, like, these are such bad stereotypes.”

“She’s the exact type of person that we need to really destroy that sort of stereotype,” President of Shebron Spencer Kahn said “The way she dresses… would really be a great way to kick it to the curb.”

With each topic of discussion at Shebron meetings, Gilbert adds her own insightful comments that propel the discussions. In one conversation about catcalling and public sexual-harassment, Gilbert mentioned blocking out the people who catcall and shout at her in public.

“I’m not the problem, it’s the people catcalling me,” Gilbert said “So I should be able to wear what I want.”