As a female and a fashion blogger, people assume I’m frivolous. My penchant for Prada means I can’t like Proust. I’m shallow and my affinity for high teas means that my head is as airy as the champagne-infused scones I adore.
The people who make these assumptions do it because it’s cognitively consonant and fits into their framework: fashion equals frivolous. Therefore, people who follow fashion are extravagant, superficial beings.
Yes, fashion is frivolous. It’s not all that serious and it’s a wee bit self-indulgent. But who isn’t one of those things, at least some of the time? Divertissements and lightheartedness are healthy for us, healing even. Harvard Medical School states that being less serious can be hugely remedial and help us to achieve more peaceful lives. That doesn’t sound so bad now, does it? Interestingly, when associated with a female, it can be.
It’s striking to see that the vast majority of things considered ‘frivolous’ are conventionally feminine. Why are fashion, beauty, and nuanced emotion any more frivolous than throwing/kicking/dodging different-shaped balls up a field? A male CEO can freely admit his passion for football and expect a neutral to positive public reaction, while a female CEO expressing interest in cosmetics could go the way of Marie Antoinette. Perhaps this strong disdain of traditionally feminine kinds of frivolity is born of a broader contempt for female pleasures: we’re ornamental creatures, static beauties whose pursuits or interests are entirely superfluous to our sole purpose as decorative giggle-bunnies.
As a society, we should look at frivolity in a different light, one where it’s not looked down upon, no matter who indulges in it. Perhaps more like the sumptuous cream we skim off a jug of fresh milk. It’s light, self-indulgent and undoubtedly joyful. When we take pleasure in something frivolous, we go off the grid of seriousness for a moment and let our minds leap in cartwheels. Our world would be a dour place if we abolished frivolity; a sad grey orb, void of any frou-frou or cat videos.
Frivolity and seriousness can and do coexist in humans, because we are deeply complex beings. Liking something frivolous doesn’t make that person frivolous. To equate a person’s entire moral and spiritual identity to the characteristics of a single interest is to be criminally lazy in our judgment. Even those holier-than-thou folks hurling accusations of frivolity are unlikely to be leading austere monk-like lives, abandoning worldly possessions.
Every day, I cherish my frivolous interests, grateful for the warmth they bring to life. My frivolity helps me unwind, take childlike pleasure and undo the knots in my shoulders from hunching over the desk in my cubicle. It helps me appreciate the depth and substance of my ‘serious’ pursuits and for that, I can say without a hint of contradiction, frivolity is not at all frivolous. So, let’s have a break, have a Kit Kat or have a Karla Coletto.