I think the phenomena of fake black-rimmed acrylic glasses is a representation of our generation’s constant need to appropriate oppression, rebrand it as some sort of liberating statement, as often exhibited by fashion, and reclaim the oppressive nature of what is commonly referred to as “nerdiness.” We’ve seen generations of the past do this in various ways. We’ve seen the appropriation of the word “nigger” which was rebranded as “nigga” and presented as a tool of liberation from a history of slavery which encapsulated sexual, physical, mental violence and complete dehumanization. Truly, taking off two letters and adding another vowel was the best way to achieve justice on that front.
Che Guevara and that whole commie-socialist-pinko-obamacare revolution is another example of the novelization of something representative of oppression – either as a tool of oppression or a tool against oppression. Nothing brings social justice, egalitarianism and deconstruction of powerful and corrupt capitalistic and fascist regimes quite like a t-shirt.
The recent normalization of the Palestinian solidarity scarf referred to as the keffiyeh – or scarf of the desert by my local fashion stores – is another. And an ironic one given the vast amount of young McGill Jewish girls from Toronto who seem to love throwing it on their lululemon outfits, topped off with some Michael Kors shoes.
Pretty hella meta.
There’s something sincerely endearing and truly revolutionary about the ability to take some of the strongest indicators of social problems and oppressions and to make them our own without ever even lifting a finger aside from punching in your pin number when you’re making the purchases. And of course, you have to wear everything with style. As though you’re not reallllly into uncompromising equality and straight up equal distribution of wealth; as though you’re not reallllly a nerd because you get all the girls and suck at uttering any word containing more than 2 syllables; as though you’ve never even met a Pakistinian let alone care about their land dispute with whatever and as though you don’t have that history of slavery in your family and even if you do you are SO over that. Forgive and forget!
All of that being said, I think I’m doing a pretty good job rebranding the word oppression and re-engaging with it in that whole Derrida textuality crap sense: thick black-framed acrylic glasses? Check. Che Guevara shirt/patch/pin? Check. Keffiyeh? Check. Hijab? Check. Apple-bottom hightops? Check.