What do NFTs and "Fetish-Core" have in common?
The rise of pseudonymity.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I was having writer's block about today’s newsletter. Then someone sent me this article on the rise of BDSM-inspired fashion yesterday and it piqued my interest.
The article notes that the shopping search engine, Lyst, has seen a 136% rise in “harness” searches from mid-March to mid-April this year. While I understand that fashion recycles every decade, the rise of this particular trend has me asking questions. Of course, Kim Kardashian most recently shot “fetish-core” (BDSM-inspired looks) to the forefront of fashion conversations with last year’s anonymous, masked Met Gala look. And the next viral dose of BDSM-inspired fashion came from an actual ex-dominatrix and the muse everyone loves to hate, Julia Fox. The ultimate leather-wearing woman, Catwoman (aka Zoe Kravitz), has also been top of mind lately with the splashy release of The Batman. But why are fetishwear and BDSM-inspired looks creeping into the zeitgeist, especially for women? Indulge me for a moment as I attempt to explore why the rise of NFTs might also play into this trend.
Fashion and beauty have always served as a medium for expression. Sometimes, they exist as a cloak to hide behind, and occasionally, they serve as a means of identifying with a community or religion. In this newsletter, we’ve previously explored how algorithmic bias in social platforms favors those who adhere to euro-centric beauty standards and how the rise of pseudo-anonymous PFPs (NFT profile pictures) could combat real-world beauty biases. Fashion that revolves around masks and whips as a way to express identity is relevant for the same reasons—it’s a way to both hide and display power at the same time.
There’s also an element of community in both BDSM fashion and NFT culture that’s important to acknowledge here. Even if you’re not exclusive in the BDSM community, your association with it through clothing choices can signal that you may be exploring it as part of your identity, or that you simply want to be associated with the power wielded by dominatrixes. Buying into a specific NFT project and changing your profile picture to reflect that project is not all that different—you’re joining a community that resonates so much with you, or holds such significant social clout (power), that you change the way you digitally identify online.
But why are both of these trends happening now? A few reasons. For starters, humans are finding new ways to express themselves in both the digital and physical realms in order to join wider communities and reject our most physically distanced era. In other words, the rise of community through visual identifiers is a growing phenomenon. Second, these trends allow people to explore their identity through relative pseudonymity, and pseudonymity affords the freedom of social or sexual exploration. We’ve spent so long alone with our thoughts that the rise of more “out there” clothing and community-based visual identifiers (digitally speaking) sits quite seamlessly with our entry back into society. Don’t you think?
“You become a little bit less human, because you’re more like a mannequin. You might be objectified more, and a lot of people may not enjoy that feeling, but some people might find a little freedom in that anonymity. You can exist without people knowing your history, your race, your gender, or your socioeconomic status.” - Mistress Iris, a professional dominatrix, about wearing something like a head-to-toe latex look.
To everyone who helped my writer's block this week—thank you. Your highly-voted prompts of “Can you un-cancel yourself” (submit your take in Diem, here) and “Community but not for community’s sake” will be coming up next (they required a little more thinking time). See you same time next week!
What We’re Reading...
👀 Single women (and not just mothers) play a workplace penalty too. While the “motherhood penalty” is well-documented, single, childless women can face unique barriers. (Washington Post)
🤰The disinformation campaign behind a top pregnancy website. Hospitals, government agencies, and progressive think tanks cite it. But it’s not what it seems. (Mother Jones)
Who we’re Dieming with…
Conversations in Diem feel like you’re dialing in to a call with your most knowledgeable friends. Here’s a selection of wisdom we’re listening to (in the Diem app) this week…
Building stigmatized businesses with Eunice Kim. Now live in Diem, listen here.
How “psycho” are you? join me(!) and Amy Fraser for the next conversation in our “Don’t Scroll Up” series. Going live 7pm EST TODAY, listen here.
Empowering the next gen of women via Web3 with Dayna Trocki DeStefano & Juliette Blake. Going live WEDNESDAY 11am EST, listen here.
Crafting your personal narrative with Janna Meyrowitz Turner. Going live WEDNESDAY 4.30pm EST, listen here.
Tips for the transition to motherhood with Nikki Bogopolskaya. Going live WEDNESDAY 5.30pm EST, listen here.
The realities of fast fashion with Robyn Davies. Going live WEDNESDAY 5.30pm EST, listen here.
Squiggly Careers – how to navigate a non-linear path with Serena Gasparini. Going live WEDNESDAY 9pm EST, listen here.
The mysteries of female biology: pregnancy with Deena Emera, PhD. Going live THURSDAY at 12pm EST, listen here.
Storytelling as a catalyst for change with Pulitzer Prize journalist, Holly Carter. Going live, Thursday at 1pm EST, listen here.
Making peace with a changing body with Claire Siegel. Going live Thursday 5pm EST, listen here.
See you next time,