A View From Within: High Schooler Karen Smith Speaks

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A View From Within High School student Karen Smith was asked to speak about society's interpretation of the way women dress and the comments that Chef Ayesha Curry made in December regarding the way women dress "nowadays". 

         Women should not have to feel that they must conform to the idea of modesty based off of a man’s personal wants and desires. The main idea that I’m getting from comments like Curry’s is that women “keep the good stuff covered up for the one who matters”. Women should dress in what they feel most comfortable and confident in. However, their reasons for doing so should be valid enough to uplift the next generation of women. The way they handle both negative and positive responses to styles play a major part in the entire message being sent to society. If the reason a woman feels comfortable or confident in what she’s in is because she feels she’s doing her partner a favor by not beautifying herself for the world, but only to him, that sets sexist norms in our society.

Q. What is trendy?

A. In a society like New York in 2016, it is common to find women dressed in all sorts of attire from Western business attire, to belly shirts, tube tops, burqas, and sweat pants. Various cultures usually means various norms, morals, and outward appearances. With those norms come popular ones and not so popular ones.

Q.What is your view of the issue of women's attire in general?

A. My view on the issue is that the idea of morality can definitely be taken many ways. There are many reasons behind certain standards set for women in society: some religious, some sexist, some for respect. I believe that as long as a woman finds complete happiness within herself and THEN with others around her, that is all that matters. Whether she wants to wear something revealing or not it is then up to her to take on negative or positive reactions.

Q. What underlies your thinking?

A. From taking classes on xenophobia (focusing on Muslim women’s clothing) or sociology to being a girl with older brothers, I’ve realized more and more just how much controversy goes on when it comes to women’s clothing. In the end of a lot of my studies, I realized that self fulfilment and confidence, are the best rooting points for how others will portray you in society. Many people have different morals which we must try to understand and respect, no matter how different they are from ours. The fear of the unknown, or comparisons to what one is familiar with has caused much division between different groups of people for many years.

Q. Do you agree or disagree with Curry's comments?

A. I believe that Curry’s comment shows that she has a great sense of self-fulfillment. She clearly stated what her preference is and there is nothing wrong with that. The only thing that I don’t agree with is the fact that she added saving herself for her husband in it. It’s fine if she feels that way, but the word “save” connotes purity, containment, untouchable. I personally agree that no one else should be seeing my “goods” but my partner, however that is only because that’s who I am comfortable with. If a woman feels confident with wearing revealing clothes, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that because it is what makes her happy. However, that reason will have to be strongly translated in a society like today’s where we the youth is heavily influenced by older people.

Q. What are the implications of women's attire being a societal issue? 

A. The idea of morality is an issue within our society. No one ever seems to question, “well who made up these rules for women’s attire? and why should I follow them?” I believe that morality is based off of personal interest and that isn’t stressed enough today.

Q.How should women dress? Why?

A. Women should dress however they want to, as long as they are mature and responsible enough to take on criticism or praise in a confident and uplifting way.

Q. What makes Black girls fly?

A. Karen thinks Black girls are fly because there’s a certain cadence in the divinity that they possess, whether it be through the physical appearance of their hair defying gravity, the deep rich tone in their poetic and musical voices, or just being the most woke women in America for years now. What can I say? Black girls are poppin’!


Karen SmithKaren Imani Smith is a 17 year old Puerto Rican and Black girl from New York. She was born and raised in Brooklyn and plans on living there for the rest of her life! She is interested in social justice, Black empowerment, and discovering what it means to be a Black girl in America.