Three years ago, I had surgery for cancer on the same week that I was supposed to have shown my BA collection. Eight months after the surgery, I returned to work on a collection that deals with an issue that is deeply important to me. Having cancer changed how I view my body and it made me want to work through my fears.
The collection “Jag kom med hammaren beredd under min kappa” is about reality and real clothes. It is based on my own experiences of how I feel in the clothes I wear. What makes me feel vulnerable and what makes me feel safe. For a long time I felt unsafe in clothes that emphasise my femininity.
This is because a sexist social structure enables the oppression and abuse of women. I protected myself by covering my body, wearing menswear in order to be less harassed. This collection examined my feelings around this. It was before #metoo and the extent of how much sexism women have to face was still met with disbelief. The discussion has now finally reached a higher level.
I also wear menswear because I like it and because I’m bisexual and believe in free expressions of gender. But this collection concerns how dressing in clothes coded as feminine has restricted my sense of freedom since it increased harassment, whereas clothes that have a masculine coding has made it easier to move freely and to be treated with respect. It is about how today, still, everywhere, the more of her body a woman shows, the more many men think it is theirs to stare at, comment and even violate.
Two years ago, I showed the collection and then took a long break to focus on my health. The cancer responded well to treatment and the prognosis is good. During these past years I have also lost beloved friends in tragic deaths. I share this because I believe openness about difficult things is the way to move society towards more empathy and kindness, especially needed now.
Photo: Kristian Löveborg