While speaking at Paris Fashion Week on Monday, fashion designer Stella McCartney introduced her new collection with a heaping side of gender norms. She explained backstage that her new collection welcomed the "fragility" of women and displayed their "softness."
"Strength on its own in a woman is quite aggressive and not terribly attractive all the time," McCartney said. "This collection is really celebrating the gentle side."
It's possible that McCartney meant that the clothing in her collection is supposed to help women feel softer and appreciate their gentle sides. That, in and of itself, is fine. But implying strong women aren't "terribly attractive all the time" is more problematic.
McCartney's comments are a reminder that the way a woman is supposed to look is dictated by society. Be thin. Be fragile. Be soft, social constructions say, but don't be strong because being strong is dominating and "aggressive," and women are supposed to be passive. McCartney's comments seem to say that these clothes are not for strong women — they are for beautiful women.
This is particularly ironic since McCartney recently created a clothing line for Adidas full of workout wear and tennis shoes. The workout clothes, we suppose, aren't meant to make women strong, so they must be meant to make women thin, something McCarthy also faced criticism about on Tuesday when she posted a photo of a very thin woman wearing her collection.
McCartney later deleted the image and replaced it with this one after users threatened to unfollow her:
McCartney is a leading designer of women's fashion around the world. Her words are a reminder that beauty in the fashion world is too often marked by a woman's body and her softness, leaving no room for other versions of beauty: ones that are strong and powerful and maybe even aggressive.