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The Latest Outbreak of SARS: Short Ass Revealing Skirts By Bronwyn Roberts

There is an epidemic on my college campus. I fear that mine is not alone— this infection is spread far and wide. It is paralyzing, incapacitating, nauseating. It prevents the infected from participating in day-to-day life; instead, the victim is infirm, limited in movement. I see the carriers crippled behaviors—they cannot sit properly, they cannot walk or run. They are prisoners of this overpowering force: the mini flounce skirt.

Now, I am old enough to remember when the flounce skirt was in style the first time around. This Madonna-esque version was a different entity in many ways from the mini of today. Sometimes easily mistaken for a wide belt, the current mini flounce is as high in hem and low in waistline as underwear construction can allow. Though they appear on students and other seemingly active young women, they undoubtedly pose severe restrictions on mobility. I worry that the mini flounce is disabling whole populations of young women from a functional and fulfilling lifestyle.

I must admit, I have not asked any mini flouncer why she subjects herself to such torture. The truth is, the mini flounce is just the tip of the iceberg. Its fashion significance is similarly mirrored up by anything in the low-rise bottom family, the midriff-bearing top genre, and the tourniquet-like sizing in both. It is accented by studded belts, artfully side-swept bangs, and 3-inch platform flip-flops that were never meant to be worn while walking (believe me, I have the blisters to prove it).

Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating for Victorian-era restrictive values or traditionalist, repressive notions of female sexuality. I am not attempting to fashion police anyone’s choice of outfit based on their body type. We are all entitled to rock what we want in and out of our closet. But the irony of the mini flounce and its entourage goes far beyond fashion individuality (how original is it really to wear the exact same composite parts of an outfit as 90% of the other women in the room?).

As I was staring out across the crowded quad during lunch hour on my small college-town campus, I noticed a glaring discrepancy in attire between the genders. While the men lounged comfortably in their baggy shorts and t-shirts, they were nevertheless outshined by most of their female counterparts. A majority of the young women I saw, or at least noticed, were adorned in full ensemble outfits: head to toe coordinated hair, jewelry, clothes and shoes in the latest industry styles. These women were undeniably attractive, as society has us trained to believe. But I couldn’t help but think that, despite their polished exteriors, they were uncomfortable.

Having walked at least a mile myself in those kinds of shoes, I can honestly say that such attire is as limiting as it appears. Conversely, the way most men dress is freeing. Ladies, the guys have something on us. Ask any of them how long it takes them to get dressed in the morning and I’ll bet they have our time cut in half, at the very least. Tell me how many guys sit in class, worrying about whether their cellulite is showing because their skirt barely covers their upper thighs, or wondering if their cropped shirt and hip-hugging bottoms are maybe showing just a little too much for their own comfort. And we’ve all seen the victims of the seated low-rise jean wearer from the back, and it isn’t pretty (even with that trendy tattoo).

Instead of bagging on my fashionista sisters from a holier-than-thou, no- man’s-land of style, I simply want young women to stop for a moment and ask themselves some questions. Does the way you present yourself to the world externally help you fulfill your potential to be the most functional member of society you can be? Does the amount of time you spend focused on your appearance on a daily or weekly basis match the amount of time you spend developing your hobbies or career interests? Will the fleeting satisfaction you feel from being socially accepted for your appearance outlast the positive effects you will get devoting your time to a cause or helping others?

I recently read a quote that went something like, “In 100 years, no one will remember how your hair was cut, the clothes you wore, or whether you were overweight. But they will remember the difference you made in the lives of others.” To my fellow young women, all I ask of you is to consider the limitations you are placing on your vast potential in terms of time, comfort, and autonomy of spirit. Allow yourself to move beyond the constricted confines that the fashion industry and your peers bestow on you. Open yourself to the possibility that the true beauty of your character has yet to be developed—and you need the freedom of your mind and movement of your person to get there.