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"Queer Fashion" Exhibit in Ames Seeks to Combat Stereotypes

Christopher Gannon

A new fashion exhibit at Iowa State University explores an area of fashion often stereotyped or misunderstood.

In this Talk of Iowa segment, Charity Nebbe talks to the woman behind “Queer Fashion and Style: Stories from the Heartland," Kelly Reddy-Best, assistant professor in Apparel, Merchandising & Design at Iowa State University.

Reddy-Best collected clothing and items from LGBTQ people, including T-shirts, jumpers, underwear, and “objects that go against the skin, the first layer we put on.” Clothing, according to Reddy-Best, can be used to tell people’s stories and share experiences. Even everyday clothing items, like T-shirts, speak to identity and politics.

“The importance of overtly showing your pride through the slogan T-shirt had immense impact with people in the community,” Reddy-Best says.

The goal of the exhibit is, in part, to demonstrate how sexuality intersects with how people in the LGBTQ community present themselves, as well as the ways they may not present with stereotypes shown in the media.

“When you walk in on the left, there’s a case that gets at the stereotypical image of what queer women might look like,” Reddy-Best says. “There are a variety of aesthetics and a variety of styles that really break that stereotype.”

"I feel really excited that we have representation – I don’t think in any fashion exhibition, I don’t think there has been representation like that."

The exhibit “Queer Fashion and Style: Stories from the Heartland” will be on display in Morrill Hall’s Mary Alice Gallery through April 14th.