Wednesday, April 27, 2005

swedish domination

from today's minneapolis star tribune:

"The company, which said Tuesday that it plans to open a 23,000-square-foot store in the Mall of America early this fall, is both affordable and chic -- a place where even young women on student-loan budgets can build designer wardrobes."

"The company" is the mega cheap, mega chic h&m. in a way, i'm a little sad it's coming to minnesota. granted, it's lovely and affordable and i can get my fix of weird jewelry without going destitute, but it's just such an east coast store. minnesotans are practical. minnesotans aren't chic. i mean, socks with sandals is a completely respectable clothing option here!

this is why i'm sad - while minnesotans are not the most fashion forward kind of people, there's a freedom of expression and an healthier body acceptance here than in, say, new york. i'm afraid that the minnesotan style is going to be lost. i don't want to see assimilation forced upon women. i don't want to have the stress of not being cool enough, thin enough, high fashion-y enough like i had in new york. i could feel that anxiety peeling away the longer i was in minnesota.

in my mind, the differences between new york/minnesota clothing culture was clearly found in the YMCA women's locker room. in new york, the girls (smooth brows, toned bodies, even creepily on 45-year-olds) came in with short-shorts, low cut tops, high heels. they'd undress and immediately wrap themselves with their towel. the private shower stalls were always full, and women would quietly mill around waiting for one to open up (rather than shower in the open public showers). they'd dry off quickly, discreetly and whip their clothes on.

in minneapolis, on the other hand, the women would come in with their ankle-length skirts, socks with sandals, turtlenecks, sweaters with seasonal motifs. they'd undress, slip on their flip flops, walk into the sauna bare-assed. they'd chat with their friends naked. the private shower stalls were always unused. in fact, i'd wonder why the ladies had to put on their makeup and dry their hair naked. can't you even put on a pair of underwear?, i'd think. and their bodies were soft, doughy, wrinkled - normal. a lot of them are middle-aged and beyond. there was a complete lack of shame, of excusing the cellulite and lumps. and you know what? i didn't care either. i didn't care about my rolls and cellulite either. how amazing is that?

i'm worried that with h&m coming in, with this idea of chic chic chic entering the marketplace, that particular freedom is going to be lost. i don't want those ladies in the minneapolis locker room to get botox, or to slave away on the elliptical. i don't want them to be ashamed of their bodies like the new yorkers were. i don't want that pressure on them.


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