According to one particular devil with Prada-wearing proclivities, fashion decisions and discussions that begin in a magazine office with a pile of stuff will inevitably trickle down to the bargain bin. I wonder what she would have to say about fashion decisions made in upper government offices. Last week news broke that Uganda is considering legislation that would outlaw miniskirts.
Headlines and a Twitter trend (#savetheminiskirt) made the situation appear almost humorous at first. (I initially saw them and laughed, thinking of how my high school principal—who had announced at an assembly, “Thighs are ugly. I don’t want to see yours,”—would probably approve.) But this is no laughing matter. With the Minister for Ethics and Integrity claiming that the legislation is necessary to stop men from being encouraged to assault women and issuing statements such as, “If a woman wears a miniskirt we will arrest her,” because such a garment breaks the “above the knee” restriction, the situation—and its underlying implications—is cause for concern. Ugandan outrage to the proposed legislation spawned the #savetheminiskirt hashtag on Twitter, as well as discussion of gender rights and discrimination.
Politicizing women’s attire is by no means a new concept. Back in 2008, another Ethics and Integrity Minister in Uganda attempted to pass similar legislation. This past January, the issue received some press due to an artist’s take on society’s judgment concerning skirt length. There is a personalized and rather subjective aspect when it comes to fashion (what one says is a dress, another might say is not), and to legislate fashion would be a, in the words of one pretty woman, “Big mistake. Big. Huge.”