Happiness is rewarded and well-seen, but anger is punished and underlooked. Many times we prefer to ignore anger instead of exploring it. Because by being happy and joyful, you are seen as an emotionally capable being who can see the positive side of every situation. But when you give yourself permission to be angry, it seems like we have lost control ourselves. It seems like we are being childish, and our reactions and our feelings are not valid. 

But from an objective and realistic perspective, is it really that “out of place” to be mad, or are we just trying to lie to ourselves, pretending we can be joyful and bubbly 24/7? Are we pushing anger and angry people just because we feel uncomfortable accepting and processing this emotion? 

In Disney Pixar’s movie Inside Out, Anger is a small red individual who reacts with anger to every situation around him. From the slightest inconvenience to the most disappointing situation, anger jumps and screams with rage while fire emerges from his head. Anger’s mates, Joy, Sadness, Fear, and Disgust often would pull him away and try to shut down the way he interpreted his surroundings. They tried to lower his voice to avoid any inconveniences for the people around them.

A recent article from The New York Times states that while bad feelings can affect your well-being, the perspective you have on those feelings can play an even bigger role in your mental health. 

And the real world doesn’t seem to be very far off from the way these cartoons behave. Thoughts and beliefs about anger being a negative and not valid reaction can make us feel guilty of feeling angry when things don’t turn out the way we want them to be or when we find ourselves in a position that we wish we weren’t in.

The problem is not anger. No one is exempt from feeling angry, and there is no medicine, shield, or vaccine that can prevent us from a strong wish to scream a four letter word that starts with an f. Anger is the elephant in the room. We know it’s there. We can feel it. We may even be very aware of the reason why we feel it. And still, we’d rather focus on something else and hope that things just fade away with time. 

Anger and Fashion

How does anger look like? Image Courtesy of Slate

We’ve talked about how sad clothes look like and how sadness can influence the clothes we wear, and the clothes we wear can amplify or reduce our sadness. So what do angry clothes look like? How do we express this anger visually with the garments we choose for our day?

Anger is red

“I am someone’s daughter” Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the House Floor. Image Courtesy of The New York Times.

One of the most energetic colors is red. Red is associated with passion, as we see it in a wide variety of lingerie. Red is also the color of stop signs, red lights, danger, and signs indicating no smoking areas. Red is a color that is very hard to dismiss, which is why we use it for all these important signs. Anger from Disney’s Inside Out is red, as well as one of the boldest characters from Angry Birds. So if red is a color that illustrates anger, is this an element we can use in our clothes to illustrate this emotion?

Back in July 2020, Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez delivered a 10-minute statement on the House Floor of the US Capitol, two days after a Congressman verbally attacked her in front of reporters. In her remarks, the Congresswoman talks about how normalized verbal abuse against women is.

“I want to thank him (Rep. Yoho) for showing the world that you can be a powerful man and accost women. You can have daughters and accost women without remorse. You can take photos and project an image to the world of being a family man and accost women with a sense of immunity. It happens every day in our country”.

 For 10 minutes, the Congresswoman spoke without using props or raising or lowering her voice significantly. But her Floor remarks became a subject of headlines in the local, national, and international press, motivating advocacy groups to create pictures and graphics of the Congresswoman with captions from her remarks. AOC’s remarks are known to be impactful in the news and cause mixed reactions. But this is one of the most memorable speeches from the Congresswoman, perhaps because of her red blazer, which in addition to her signature red lips, is very hard to disregard visually and brings attention when people scroll on Twitter and turn the page on a newspaper. Anger is hard to dismiss when we encounter it within ourselves. And when we encounter it in others and decide to express it through our clothes, the message is loud and clear. 

Anger as Revenge

Princess Diana wore revenge as a dress back in 1994. Image Courtesy of Vogue.

Back in 1994, after Charles, then Prince of Wales, admitted publicly he committed adultery while being married to Princess Diana, Lady Di showed up for dinner at the Serpentine Gallery in the Kensington Gardens wearing what we now know as the Revenge Dress. We may never know what the true intentions of Princess Diana behind this dress were. The truth is that even despite the public statements of his ex-husband that aimed to damage her reputation and clean the name of the Royal Family, Lady Di showed up at this event looking graceful. It’s also important to acknowledge that the Royal Family only wears black when grieving, which makes this dress more impactful as it can be interpreted as the liberation of all the rules the Princess of Wales had to follow during her marriage. The dress was also very sexy, so several media outlets twisted the narrative claiming Lady Di was aiming to flirt and be provocative with this black dress. 

Toxic anger

Will Smith slapped Chris Rock during the Oscars 2022. Image Courtesy of Los Angeles Times. 

Understanding where our anger comes from and how to deal with it is key to making smart decisions that can help our messages get across without being out of place. Raising our voices, elevating our wardrobe, and emphasizing our body language are some ways in which we can illustrate our anger to get our message across.

But what happens when anger is really out of place? Certain moments and certain people can give anger a bad reputation because they let themselves be carried with rage and have unacceptable reactions.

Will Smith slapped Chris Rock on the Dolby Theater stage during the Oscars Ceremony in March 2022. 

Sean Penn has had a collection of scandals throughout his career where his rage caused him to physically attack a number of people, including his wife at the time, Madonna, in the 1990s.

Anger is not always pleasant, but anger does not need to be negative all the time. In The Hunger Games, anger was a huge factor that motivated Katniss Everdeen to confront the dictatorship that was destroying her life and her family. With a wedding dress set on fire to be transformed into a Mockingjay dress, she was officially introduced as a contestant for the 75th Hunger Games. 

The Hunger Games costumes made statements about anger, frustration and resentment. Image Courtesy of the Hunger Games. 

Anger has been a common denominator in social justice movements that want to see things done in a fair and inclusive way. So phrases like “don’t be sad” and “don’t be angry” are no longer in style because we now know that we need all these emotions to be our authentic selves and process the truth we are living in the best way. We can put Instagram filters on our truth, trying to make it look nicer and covering the things that we don’t like. But it is until we face the anger and talk out loud about what is making us feel that way that we can do something about it. 

This doesn’t mean that we should live angry 24/7. This would make our life miserable and disgraceful. But we need to stop demonizing the emotions we find uncomfortable and pretending they don’t exist. If we hide a pair of broken shoes in the closet, time will not fix these shoes out of magic, nor will they disappear out of nowhere. When it comes to clothes and when it comes to emotions, we need to take the initiative to fix what is broken, to acknowledge what is working, and to embrace what we already own and what we are. That will take us one step closer to being our authentic selves.