Fashion-forward feminism


Jourdan Gilbert

A few of Gilbert’s daily outfits.

By Spencer Goff

Senior Jourdan Gilbert wore a skirt that hovered a couple inches above her knees and a sweater that stopped just where the skirt began high on her hips. The buttoned shirt under the sweater cinched snugly around her neck. Against the masses of students wearing jeans and t-shirts, Gilbert stood out.

On any day, Gilbert can be seen scaling a hallway or turning a corner with a flowing silk dress or skirt cascading behind her, but never is Gilbert seen wearing denim jeans or tennis shoes. This has less to do with an aversion to casual clothes and more to do with Gilbert’s sense of style.

I lived basically my entire childhood thinking that I wouldn’t be considered strong if I was ‘girly.’”

— Gilbert

“I lived basically my entire childhood thinking that I wouldn’t be considered strong if I was ‘girly,’” Gilbert said. “Eventually, growing up and going through high school I was like, ‘I like dresses. I like looking pretty. I like wearing makeup.'”

For Gilbert, catching someone’s eye is empowering.

“I like the attention, if I’m being honest,” Gilbert said. “I like being known for my fashion sense instead of something else.”

As well as the gratification that comes from being recognized for her fashion sense, Gilbert finds fulfillment in knowing that what she wears can empower others to wear something they wouldn’t otherwise feel comfortable wearing to school.

“I feel like [other people will think], ‘Hey, she wears skirts and heels to school. I can start dressing [how I want], and it’s not a big deal,’” Gilbert said.

When Gilbert is not seeking out new trends, she has been actively involved in Shebron, the school’s feminism club, since it began in January. According to Gilbert, her sense of style works to break down stereotypes about feminists.

“People always think [feminists] dress all masculine,” she said. “I get that all the time: ‘Oh you’re a feminist, but you’re such a girl.’ I can’t believe people actually say that to me.”

Gilbert also gets furrowed eyebrows when she explains her sexuality.

“People are like, ‘You can’t be a lesbian because you dress so feminine,’” she said. “It just [makes] me want to show people that these are such bad stereotypes.”

With each topic of discussion at Shebron meetings, Gilbert adds her own insightful comments. In one conversation about catcalling and public sexual harassment, Gilbert said, “I’m not the problem, it’s the people catcalling me,” Gilbert said. “I should be able to wear what I want.”

President of Shebron Spencer Kahn said, “She’s the exact type of person that we need to destroy [stereotypes]. The way she dresses… would really be a great way to kick [them] to the curb.”