Occasional exposure to Beauty and the Geek has highlighted a few things to me. One is that there’s no level that some people won’t stoop to to get on television.

Take that ridiculous bloody shirt off or else.

Two is that there is maybe no such thing as a ‘bottom floor’ in reality programming. Thirdly and most importantly, it’s time society took a look at how it’s defining a ‘fashion victim’.

I myself, believe it or not, can fall into the socially defined fashion victim category. While I may look thoughtfully scruffy, that’s mostly because my new wife has carefully trained me that way.

When she met me three years ago I was bearded with messy hair, wearing a Roger Ramjet t-shirt, Converse shoes, jeans and a blue hooded jumper. This young lady saw potential in me, and immediately set about making renovations. While my hair is tame and my face clean shaven, I sit before you in a Back to the Future t-shirt to tell you that nothing has really changed. I still have no idea what colour should be going with what. The only time you’ll see me in a suit is at a wedding or a funeral (and even then I have to convince myself I’m Doctor Who). I’m comfortable, and fine with my geeky ways.

Somewhere along the way, we’ve got it in our heads that this kind of thing is an undesirable characteristic. Should my inability to colour co-ordinate be seen as a disadvantage? Should I be frowned upon if my footwear is deemed as not leather enough? Should I be judged by the extent of my accessories?

Maybe the real ‘fashion victims’ are those who are true ‘victims’: the ones that are actually harmed in the name of ‘fashion’.

Harming yourself, to various degrees, seems to have become an acceptable length to take in the name of fashion.

It’s encouraged to prod and poke at your own body, to alter yourself by filling in and sucking out, to cultivate skin cancers in the hope of achieving that elusive perfect tan. It’s common practice for make-up products that have been deemed too cruel to test on animals are applied in eye-watering amounts. Not only is it normal and acceptable… it’s encouraged and expected.

Maybe it’s these people who should be seen as the true fashion victims. Maybe the people who feel the need to ‘suit up’ to look professional, wearing cufflinks, ties, and other remnant items from (let’s face it) medieval clothing.

Or how about those that cram their feet in unnaturally pointy shoes to walk at an elevated level? High-heel shoes are shown to cause foot and ankle problems, and can lead to back and posture problems… and yet people wear them. They’re getting so extreme that we’re probably only a few seasons away from Chinese foot binding being declared fashionable again. But then again, maybe those people are on to something – those that suffer for their beliefs are often seen as the greatest martyrs.

Nothing seems to be greater proof of this than the modern fashion shows. The term ‘fashionable’ no longer really has a place there – it’s all the aim of being the most ‘memorable’, and often, the most ‘ridiculous’. Once again, this is an environment where ‘fashion victim’ is now an applicable tern in its real sense – being made to suffer for your ‘art’.

I’m willing to bet that mainstream Australia isn’t like this though. We’re comfortable in our shorts and t-shirts, in our tracksuits, singlets, and snuggies. The majority put comfort and practicality ahead of all else, or at least try to find a happy medium. We aren’t the fashion victims that have to be always ‘bang on trend’, or refer to a clothing item by its designer rather than the item name.

If you know or see someone who’s a true victim of fashion, say something about it. Don’t let them suffer in silence.

Matt’s blog: End of the Spectrum

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    • KH says:

      07:12am | 23/11/10

      Well I don’t get the whole fashion thing - I don’t even own any high heels - you can’t run around in those…........and I don’t want needles stuck into me unnecessarily…..

      Fashion victims are people who adopt ‘fashion’ no matter how ridiculous it makes them look or what torture they go through to get it - every day I see women wearing those hideous roman sandal type shoes (you look like you have cloven hooves), bleached hair (have you ever had peroxide on your head? Its like holding a naked flame to your scalp),  and in recent days, some girls with shall we say ‘thunder thighs’ wearing the lastest fashion short denim shorts (not painful to them, but to others who might end up blinded by the horror).......mmmmm so its in fashion - doesn’t mean you will look good in it…...... don’t get me started on the tattooing (what happens when that goes out of fashion?  You can’t put those in a brotherhood bin now can you), stilletto heels (I mean seriously - how to make yourself unsteady on your feet without drinking) and piercing (why on earth you would want to walk around with what looks like a giant booger hanging out of your nose is beyond me).  Guys get off a little easier - but I do like to have a chuckle at the ‘hipster’ - my personal favourite was this clown I saw wearing ridiculous skinny jeans and these horrid looking brown [dress?] shoes (no socks, of course) - he also had on the thick black framed glasses (probably plain glass), and an appropriate shirt and ‘tribal’ tattoo - awful - truly awful…...is there anything that looks worse on a man than skinny jeans? And I mean any man, regardless of weight (although obviously weight is directly proportional to hilariousness…....) Surely they are painful?!

    • Maxie says:

      08:32am | 23/11/10

      my my KH, if everyone wore the same drab, unimaginative garb you must wear day in, day out, why, what on earth would you bitch on The Punch about?

      Only small minded people such as yourself judge others unfavourably for the clothes they wear, and only people with rampant inadequacies about their own ability to dress write ridiculous columns about ‘fashion victims’.

      for godsake, even people in communist north korea have more freedom of expression that what you idiots seem to allow.

    • David says:

      09:08am | 23/11/10

      A lot of the ‘fashionable’ people wear the exact same clothes. A new craze will hit and suddenly everyone is wearing skinny jeans, harry high pants, roman sandals, etc. Who you calling unimaginative?

    • Gia says:

      09:38am | 23/11/10

      People who get tattoos as a fashion trend and picked some random flash off the wall of a mediocre tattoo parlour may well regret them. Those who choose to tattoo themselves in order to mark a significant event, collect amazing artwork and have well thought out, planned custom pieces will be unaffected by the changes in ‘trends’.

      Some people’s idea of beauty is more classic, others like to add some colour to their lives! I know quite a number of people in their mid/late 40s/50s who are just getting in the chair for the first time now. Some of them secretly wanted a tattoo for a long time but never did because of the social stigma, others getting ink now because of a significant moment in their lives. Some of these people used to have a revulsion for tattoos - often because it was only opinion ingrained from childhood, i.e the previous generation drilled it into them that tattoos are for easy women/bikers/criminals. Now that people from all walks of life are increasingly expressing themselves via art on their skin, it’s challenged such close-minded beliefs.

      I actually enjoy seeing guys getting into fashion these days - even if they sometimes take the whole hipster chic look a bit far (dress shoes + no socks = smelly feet!) at least they’re becoming more European in embracing trend movements and pushing boundaries.

    • Davida says:

      10:00am | 23/11/10

      “Well I don’t get the whole fashion thing” and yet apparently spend an inordinate amount of time observing and critiquing the choices of others.  Fashion (or non-fashion) is merely a human extention of point of difference (hence perceived hieracy).  Most of us have 2 arms, two legs, a torso and a head.  It is the clothes we wear which establish where we fit in tribally, how we stand out, what practicalities we endure and who we identify with.  Even the rejection of fashion is a fashion statement in itself.  There is no escape.

    • Bobster says:

      10:28am | 23/11/10

      Is there anyway we can have references to communism written into Godwin’s Law?

    • KH says:

      10:50am | 23/11/10

      Maxie and Davida - they do all do exactly the same things! basically, its a uniform - the point I’m making is that just because its ‘in’ doesn’t mean it suits you - I’m well aware of what I look like in certain items of clothing - believe me, I wouldn’t be inflicting that on the public any time soon!  There are ways to be ‘fashionable’ without becoming a victim of it - knowing your shape, what colours and styles suit you, and not just blindly following - there are plenty of things to choose from….....All the ‘style icons’ I have seen obviously know this is the secret…......

    • thatmosis says:

      07:39am | 23/11/10

      Fashion- the hope that adopting the clothes,tattoos, makeup or hairdo of someone else will make one more attractive in peoples eyes. The result- people looking like walking billboards with tattoos everywhere, piercings that not only look terrible but are a health hazard, clothes that look like they have been designed by an orangatang with a crayon on bodies that lump everywhere but where there supposed to, underwear exposed for all to see trying valiantly to cover huge spare tyres and humungous bums, make up put on with a spatula or botox or both that gives the appearance of a plastic death mask and a price tag for all this “loveleness” that exceeds the GDP of some countries. What a sorry state of affairs we have fallen into when we try to emulate someone else to achieve but fail to look good and trendy.

    • whisperer says:

      08:08am | 23/11/10

      I am definitely a fashion icon ,stubbies,  singlet and thongs topped off with a straw hat ,colour co-ordinated of course.

    • fairsfair says:

      09:39am | 23/11/10

      I hope you occasionally throw in some hi-vis whisperer…

    • T.Chong says:

      11:00am | 23/11/10

      Sartorially elegant, functional attire Whisperer. Your wardrobe could be complemented with a flanny shirt, and for posh occaisons ie greyhounds or the trots etc, Desert boots would never look out of place.

    • NicoleG says:

      11:57am | 23/11/10

      And I reckon a duffel coat and a VB stubby. They go with any occasion.

    • Whisperer says:

      12:29pm | 23/11/10

      Thanks guys for the suggestions especially T.Chong, i was finding it a bit dangerous in thongs at the greyhounds and especially the trots ,all that poop, i will definitely invest in desert boots.

    • ILR says:

      08:33am | 23/11/10

      (indignantly) And your wife’s problem with Roger Ramjet is…....?

    • zoolander eat your heart out says:

      08:39am | 23/11/10

      I have it easy, I look good in everything. My favorite is unkempt hair, ugg boots, Adidas trackies and a business shirt. The misses doesn’t even try to come to the shops with me when I dress like that, must be too much competition.

    • LB says:

      08:45am | 23/11/10

      Ive heard alot of american students comment on how dressed up people in Australia are at uni compared to the states. So, no, Australia in some ways is worse than other countries.

    • Outraged says:

      04:14pm | 23/11/10

      That is so true! The American’s I know at uni only wear white sneakers and hoodies with a University name on the front. Heading over to my trip to New York, I was expecting everyone to be walking around in designer gowns and couture labels…I specifically packed “trendy” clothes because I didn’t want to look like a slob. BUT once I got there, it was NOTHING like the movies! “Real” Americans have no fashion sense! Period!

    • DMS says:

      08:55am | 23/11/10

      Hate to dissapoint Matt but the rumbly-tumbly, ironic T-shirt, I-don’t-really-follow-fashion thing is an affectation you share with many and is also (in the dictionary sense) “fashionable”.

      Nice try though.

      (Said kindly - honest)

    • DH says:

      08:58am | 23/11/10

      Great point: I’ve always appreciated, but never really understood high heels. They must hurt a hell of a lot. Do women wear them because they like them, or because they know men like them, or a bit of both, or neither?

      You can be sure that men would never wear anything that painful. Although some men think it’s cool to wear shoes without socks, so what the hell do we know.

    • Andrew says:

      09:45am | 23/11/10

      High heels look good wink  Although maybe I’ve just been trained by society to think that.  In any case, a nice looking woman in a pair of heels (and not much else) will do it for me every time..  mmmmm..

    • fairsfair says:

      09:47am | 23/11/10

      I wear them because I like them. If you get ready in the morning racing around to put your face on, get your lunch sorted (priority!), catch the morning news and make your bed… the last thing you do is put on a pair of heels as you run to the car. The immediate rise you get (a good couple of inches) changes your total outlook on life. You seem so much more powerful and in control when you are a little bit taller than normal… Put a pair on one day and see for yourself (but do avoid your wife’s undies - that would be weird)

      It is the female erection in a figurative and literal sense.

      Oh and they aren’t actually painful. If your feet hurt from wearing heels, buy some better ones. They really are an engineering marvel and you get what you pay for. You can’t expect to commute and work in $29 stillettos from target and not feel like you are walking on bloodied stumps at days end.

    • Rippa Rita says:

      11:08am | 23/11/10

      DH, high heels also make a woman’s legs look long and shapely, mine did when I was younger and I’m only 5’½”

    • EmmaH says:

      09:36am | 23/11/10

      Wasn’t it Socrates who said “Oh Aristippus, your vanity is shown through the holes of your vesture.”

      Aristippus was making a point to eschew fashion and dressing humbly he carried the staff of the philopsopher and paraded around athens.

      Times haven’t changed much it seems.

      Give me soft perfume, the murmur of silk on my skin the ringing of fine bracelets on my arms, music, dance and the kiss over your arrogant utilitarianism any day.

    • Kev says:

      11:51am | 23/11/10

      Umm… I dunno, I wasn’t around then.

    • AJ says:

      09:43am | 23/11/10

      Beauty and the Geek is GREAT!

      But it’s sad that they took the nerds and turned them into true fashion victims. Especially Thomas. Poor, poor, poor Thomas. The Hawaiian shirts may have been more at home on a tropical island or at a fancy-dress party, but they were much better than the orange tan, bleached white hair and the atrocious “hip hop” tracksuits in colours so bright that they make Hawaiian shirts look dull in comparison.

      Some of the other “geeks” got a better makeover, but what they did to poor Thomas was truly atrocious (especially the part where they took him outside and forced him to dance around in his underwear).

      As for fashion in general - I have no idea. I’m not a fan of the skinny jeans, tailored short-shorts, over-sized/extra-long t-shirts, super deep v-neck shirts, slip-on canvas shoes (and no socks), blazers with shorts and assorted other “trends” for men at the moment.

    • LittleG says:

      09:53am | 23/11/10

      The history of high heels amuses me - one of the precursors to the modern high heel was just to keep your shiny, pretty shoes out of the filthy muck on the streets. Unfortunately I’m such a klutz that if I wear them my natural clumsiness increases three-fold - making me more prone to fall on my face into that same filthy muck.

    • Andrew says:

      10:31am | 23/11/10

      “Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.”
      Henry David Thoreau

      “I base my fashion sense on what doesn’t itch.”
      Gilda Radner

      “With men, as with women, the main struggle is between vanity and comfort; but with men, comfort often wins.”  ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic’s Notebook, 1966

      For myself, I pretty much just wear T-shirts and cargo pants/shorts, as pockets are awesome for carrying my stuff in.

    • Kathy says:

      11:35am | 23/11/10

      Cargo pants look good & are practical…the true fashion victim is the person who tries to iron them (am I showing my age here?)

    • Proud to be a suit wearer says:

      10:32am | 23/11/10

      “Maybe it’s these people who should be seen as the true fashion victims. Maybe the people who feel the need to ‘suit up’ to look professional, wearing cufflinks, ties, and other remnant items from (let’s face it) medieval clothing.”

      Mate… get a grip and a take a dose of reality…
      YOU may work in a profession that is ideal to your ‘Back to the Future t-shirt wearing ways”.. however, in some cases, when employed in a professional office environment, ‘suiting up to look professional’ is NOT a choice, but a requirement of your job. 
      People wearing suits to work do so not because ‘they’re fashion victims’ and feel the need to obviously make you feel uncomfortable wearing your snuggie down the street, it’s a show of professionalism - how would you feel if you walked into a bank for a home loan, to be met by a bloke wearing moccasins and a dirty pair of jeans?  Like you’d trust him making decisions about your financial future?! Would you take him seriously? Would you trust him?

      Like it or not, we judge people the very first time we meet them, based on their physical appearance. 

      Not every one has a choice in what they wear to work, stop being so judgemental yourself!

    • DH says:

      12:12pm | 23/11/10

      If bank staff wore Back to the Future t-shirts I’d probably feel a lot better about them stiffing me with over the top interest rate rises. At least I’d know the increased profits were being put to good use.

    • Frank says:

      04:00pm | 23/11/10

      I wan’t going to comment on this nonsense article until I read this; now I feel I must.

      I wear a suit because I am awesome! Suits are awesome! Buy a proper fitting, well tailored suit and you will not only look fantastic regardless of size or build, but you will also find that it is the most comfortable thing you own. Ties do not choke you, not if your shirt fits correctly at the neck (which is how you are meant to buy them you idiots who wear way too tight dress shirts) and you actually know how to do up your tie correctly.
      Finally cufflinks are also awesome, the best way for a man to wear jewellery, and provide a subtle and tasteful outlet for individual flair.

      Seriously, buy a suit. They look awesome, they are super comfortable, and gorls like the way guys look in them.

    • M says:

      10:33am | 23/11/10

      I hate “makeover day” on those shows. They always cut their hair and put them in things that make them look so uncomfortable. A makeover should be about enhancing who the person is, not making them something they are not. Poor geeks!

    • Subfuture says:

      11:37am | 23/11/10

      An uninformed opinion, grown men simply should not be walking around in public in the same clothes as a 12 year old. There is a reason men are a joke in our culture and part of it is the lack of respect we show to those around us in the name of comfort. It is better to dress well, with the cufflinks; and the tie and command respect.

    • Fiddlesticks says:

      08:50pm | 23/11/10

      Respect (n) -
      1. An expression or unquantifiable measure of esteem that to be genuine (of lasting worth and unarguable merit ) can only be earned by sustained, unsought meritorious and unrewarded effort in everyday life directed to to the benefit of others without hope or expectation of reward, whether by application of character, courage, duty, honour and kindness, and regardless of the income, occupation, rank etc of either party.
      2. Valueless label confetttied about by supine aspirational morons and bootlickers, to euqally worthless drones and parasites of momentarily greater monetary or social position.

    • Phil says:

      12:00pm | 23/11/10

      I just obey my wife, in fashion.


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