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Shoulder pads really aren't limited by gender.

  Contrary to popular belief, a woman does not have to wear a dress and heels to be feminine. Nor does she need long hair, extensive layers of makeup, a slim figure, or any of those other ideals society has deemed quintessential to be beautiful.

  Femininity is different for everyone. For some, it’s tight skirts and shirts with plunging necklines. For others, it’s baring as little skin as possible. It’s not about the model society has molded for women, it’s what makes one feel empowered, and comfortable in their skin that makes one feminine.

  Personally, I find myself leaning more and more in the direction of feminized menswear. While I could live without the extreme shoulder pads of decades past, there’s just something about trousers that makes my heart leap in ways a flowy skirt never could.

  Historically, women have worn clothing with a more masculine shape to liberate them in the workplace, and give off an aura of power. The boxier fit of feminized menswear imitated the body shape of men in a sort of exaggerated way, making them appear less dainty and more robust.

  For one, shoulder pads became extremely prevalent amongst women during World War II and the 80s. It’s no coincidence that these Rosie the Riveter and second-wave feminism were major influences in American culture during these eras. In the 40s and 80s, women were taking over the jobs typically left to men, and wanted to look the part.

  Similarly to that, in current times, there has been a rise in popularity of women’s athleisure. This has also increased the amount of women going to the gym to gain muscle, rather than just to lose weight. In the past, being muscular was supposed to signify masculinity, but this idea has been gradually changing. Muscle is not gendered, every human being has muscle, some more than others, and that is true with men and women. Muscle is not masculine or feminine.

  Just as femininity is different for everyone, masculinity is the same way. Men can wear any sort of makeup, and still be masculine. All that matters is that one feels comfortable in how he looks, and if he feels masculine, he is.

  In short, beauty is not a standard to be set by society, it is a standard to be set by the individual. Wear those culottes, that miniskirt, that crop top, or that tailored button-down. The only one stopping you is yourself.

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