Be The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo – Deborah Tan

Lisbeth Salander is a difficult heroine to love. She’s cold, she’s built a wall around herself, she doesn’t show her feelings easily, and she backs away when she feels she’s growing close to a person. She’s a woman with a dark past. In the first book, Lisbeth suffers rape at the hands of her guardian. In her own ways, which can be hard for normal people to understand, Lisbeth tries to right the wrongs of the world she lives in.  

I have never read any of the books in Stieg Larrson’s Millennium Trilogy but I managed to see the three Swedish films based on them. They were good. So good that Hollywood is releasing a version starring the more well-known Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara (you’ll remember her as Erica, Mark Zukerberg’s date in the opening scene of the movie The Social Network).

With this movie, fashion brand H&M will also be releasing a collection inspired by it. Called “Dragon Tattoo“, it features Lisbeth’s signature gothic-punk wardrobe of faux-leather jackets, black jeans, biker pants, grey shredded t-shirts and tanks and heavy bias-cut knits.

As someone who loves black, I like what I see in the collection. Worn alone, each piece can add a cool, tough edge to your outfit. If you want to try putting together a Lisbeth-inspired ensemble, it’s cool too.

But, the collection has received some backlash with a blogger accusing the fashion giant of “glamorising  rape”. That by launching a fashion line inspired by Lisbeth Salander, H&M is “putting a glossy, trendy finish on the face of sexual violence and the rage and fear it leaves behind.”

I have to respectfully disagree.

First off, Lisbeth may be a rape victim and, her actions reflect the hurt and betrayal she feels towards those who violated her. But this has nothing to do with her clothes. While you may say she’s chosen to dress like a punk because she wants to project an image of toughness and strength, but she did not get raped because she was dressed like a punk.

Second, I think in this age where we try to be “right” about everything we do and say, people are more likely to jump the gun and read too much into things. If, for example, a maternity brand were to get Michelle Duggar (who has 20 kids) to be the face of a line, people are going to say, “You are promoting irresponsible family planning!” It seems as if we are so keen these days to just put a political message to everything. Is that necessary?

I hate to sound like a floozy or further promote the idea that fashion is flighty but in this instance, saying that H&M’s “Dragon Tattoo” Collection is glamorising rape seems like reading way too much into the whole thing. It is the celebration of a heroine’s unconventional personal style. It is a collection driven by the hype of a new movie which could potentially be a blockbuster. It is a fashion collection that aims to attract those who like the tough, edgy, punk, cool image of Lisbeth Salander. 

Celebrating Lisbeth Salander’s style is not a glamorous take on a brutal crime against women. If anything, it empowers us because we all should be like Lisbeth – unapologetic for who or what we are.

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