Image: @Lensabl on Unsplash
"pov: you stopped dressing for the male gaze"

TikTok’s newest trend is actually showcasing a much-needed topic to the general audience. The trend revolves around the evolution of style and breaking away from “the male gaze.” Many TikTok users are using this opportunity to show how they used to dress when they cared about what other people thought of them, versus how they now dress for themselves. 

What is the Male Gaze?

Most people don’t really have the full picture of what the male and female gaze actually is. While the trend does highlight the over-sexualization of young women (which is very important to understand), it’s not all about short skirts and crop tops. 

The ‘male gaze’ is a feminist theory claiming that society is viewed through the prism of the masculine, heterosexual perspective – with men constantly objectifying women, often seeing them only as sexual objects. Refinery29, Dr. Lauren Gurrieri, Senior Lecturer in Marketing at RMIT University, claimed that the ‘male gaze’ means women are viewed as objects of ‘desire and pleasure.’ She continued, ‘Dressing in more stereotypically feminine ways then operates as the other side of this dynamic — with femininity traditionally associated with marginalized meanings of submissiveness, decorativeness, and frivolity.’ 

How TikTok is Ditching the Male Gaze

@buffalochickendipbby

#greenscreen my proudest accomplishment !!!!!!

♬ atw x champagne problema – Pablo

The audio used for this trend is a super sad mash-up of Taylor Swift’s most heartbreaking songs, “All Too Well” and “Champagne Problems.” As the songs play on, you see young people celebrate their personal style glow-ups, grow their own personal style, and gain confidence.

The Trend is Facing Backlash

Many users are actually criticizing this trend and reducing it as “slut-shaming.” This stems from the fact that the male gaze theory argues women have been conditioned from childhood to dress to please men, for example wearing typically feminine outfits, tight clothing, and short dresses.

@franksaystwentyeight

No I won’t elaborate

♬ atw x champagne problema – Pablo

For a majority of the videos, the young girls are posting how they went from short skirts to baggy jeans without considering that wearing short skirts isn’t necessarily a direct link to wanting to “please” men. Adhering to style trends doesn’t always mean you’re dressing for yourself and out of the male gaze. 

“The Male Gaze” is thrown around a lot on the internet, but I’m not entirely sure that’s what this trend is really about. This trend revolves around self-confidence and finding your own personal style. Personal is the keyword here because the way your style changes isn’t going to look the same as everyone else. Overall, the point of this trend is to have fun, put on clothes that make you feel fearless, and ignore what anyone else has to say about it.