From some previous posts of mine you might know that I’m not %100 satisfied with how I look. Most women aren’t, that’s just a fact. There are more occasions than I’d like to admit where I feel pretty down about how I look, or how I feel I look.  What I DON’T want people to think is that I ever totally blamed the media, I blame me.

I was reading a blog the other day that allowed someone to ‘guest star’. The honoree was an organisation dedicated to the promotion of ‘real women’ to be used in glossy magazines and in the fashion industry. Now, I’m all for that. I think that more magazines would benefit using a range of people.  But what’s a range? What’s big? And to say that ‘bigger’ models need to be introduced to runways makes me wonder who is going to be the judge of ‘bigger’. Most runway models look to me like they should eat a few pies, but they’re what the designers want. And to be fair–I don’t think they’re wanted because designers get a vicious thrill out of making slightly overweight-to-obese women feel shitty. I think they’re wanted because they show off the clothes.I know I might get trashed for this, but models seem to me like walking hangers. They’re there to show the clothes, to present the clothes. Not to be a walking ideal.

Flashback, 1998. High school Art Class: Our art teacher decided to show us a couture fashion show as part of a lesson. All the girls cringed, all the boys got excited. The massive tv is wheeled into the room, and a video tape is put in. We wait. It starts. And would you believe it? All the boys cringed. The boys. Why? They found the models, unsexy. We girls sat amazed as the boys shouted things like, ‘Ew!’ and ‘She’s too skinny’ and ‘She looks like a boy!’.

The point? Well, I don’t think many men find these sorts of fashion-types appealing, in a general sort of way. I hate this to sound like a backlash, some diatribe against skinny women, because it’s NOT. The story above just illustrates that these body-types aren’t necessarily the epitome of beauty.

Lizzie Miller, ©Glamour Magazine

All of this is slooooowly starting to change with designers like Jean Paul Gaultier and Mark Fast using a size-range of women in some of their shows. Check out this great article from ‘Models and Moguls’. And with the addition of some ‘plus-sized’ supermodels being featured in magazines like Glamour…although Lizzie Miller doesn’t look plus-much.

And to ram this quasi-rant home? This organisation, on their webpage, on their LOGO, used the term ‘plus-size community’. I don’t know about you all but that just seemed like a big ol’ bit of hypocrisy. Ok, ok, I know–I’m being kindof obtuse here. That’s the term. It’s always being used. But I ask myself, and you, why rail again the fashion industry and then use their terminology? Is it meant to be sarcastic? Who knows? The average UK size is around a 16 (a US 12) or larger. Most ‘plus size’ ranges of clothes start  around a UK 18. High Street stores, like TopShop, don’t stock anything above a 16. As someone under those sizes  sure, I don’t like being called ‘plus-sized’, and I sure as balls don’t like being called it by people who are supposedly against all that labelling. And its going to take a lot more than bitching about it, or even making petitions, to change such a broad spectrum of things. But…(see concedes, losing steam) it’s a start…I guess.

I don’t believe in blaming the media, or the fashion industry for that matter, for EVERYTHING. This blog I read, made it out that the media was the devil. That they were totally to blame for making women feel bad about themselves. They DO make things harsh, and so does Hollywood in particular. Women there are usually under real pressure by their studios, managers, what have you, to get thinner. Check out this interesting article called ‘The Skinny on Hollywood Stars’. I understand the pressure you can feel whilst looking at a magazine, or watching a tv show or movie,  with perfect ladies inside wearing perfect outfits and having perfect smiles and skin.
Its a bitch.
And to young girls, this is definitely a detriment, because during puberty, let’s be honest, you’re kind of at your worst. Gawky, or pudgy, or pimply, or greasy. Most of us were a hot-mess, and I’m sure modern kids are the same.

But to us adults? Its time to face reality. What you feel is controlled by you, no one else. The magazine isn’t making you feel bad, you’re letting the magazine make you feel bad. It’s like Eleanor Roosevelt said, ‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent’. Pressure is harsh, I get that, but in the end, you have to take responsibility for your own hang-ups.

Here’s another quote from that great lady:

‘Its better to light a candle than curse the darkness’

And that’s the truth. If you don’t like something about yourself, try to fix it. Even if that something is in your head.

Addition (05.07.2010): I realise that I was a bit ticked off when righting this, and although I stand by most of what I said, I believe it may have come off that I was saying women should blame themselves. I, personally, blame myself. But on the whole I think much of the problems women face, concerning body image and fashion, are internal. Societal pressures are intense, I know. But if ‘How to Look Good Naked’ has taught us anything, its that a ‘real’ woman can shop just about anywhere and find things that look brilliant. Its getting the right mindset that’s truly hard. Its being able to see yourself as beautiful, and not abnormal because you’ve got a nice rack and an ass that won’t quit. Just please, ladies, change the system, by all means, but change how you feel about yourselves too.

9 responses »

  1. Young Wifey says:

    I remember in HS when some magazines were starting to include “plus sized” models and I thought seriously? These woman are plus sized? In college during a life drawing class, the guys always did prefer the woman who had the body that showed she had three children over the very slender boyish looking woman. Why do movies and television programs talk about makeovers and image change for girls/women, but rarely ever for a male character?… I think media can really wreck havoc on a woman’s self-esteem no matter her size. There are a lot of skinny no breasted woman wishing for those curves…

  2. It’s true that models are walking clothes hanger BUT I think the designers aren’t designing for real women. I worked in a tailor’s shop for several years, and it’s completely possible to design clothes that will look good on actual women with normal curves — but most designers are not doing this. They are not responding to women’s demands, they are creating it, and that demand is for clothes that look good on pre-pubescent boys. That is in my opinion harmful, or at least harmful enough to deserve agitation and protest. And Hollywood has a tremendous double standard about what men and women have to look like, so yes, I think it’s fair to cast some blame on them too.

    I agree it’s up to each woman to buck herself up as much as possible but when I see my “plus-size” (i.e. normal) adult friends trying to buy clothes, I understand why they feel shitty — there’s nothing for them! — and I’d never blame them for that. I would also tell them to patronize the few good designers out there and find a good tailor, but still, I have to wonder, if capitalism is all about supply and demand, why aren’t designers making things that fit the *majority* of women? Why aren’t they responding to the fact that “plus-size” IS total BS? I think this deserves blame too.

    • athenapearl says:

      I suppose I was just reacting to this ONE blog that ticked me off. I do know that its hard to find ‘designer’ clothes that fit. Honestly, I do. And I agree I may be wrong about designers, but I suppose my point was that its not just them. On the whole I don’t think women are happy with how they look. I’m not saying that makes it ok for designers to do what they do, but that it offers a good loophole of sorts to them. They think women want to be skinny. And most of us would rather be smaller than larger. I know maybe it sounded like I was trying to put blame on women themselves, but I’m not. I just think that alot of this mess is psychological, and sociological. And I’ve never been that brilliant at expressing myself when I’m pissed off 🙂

  3. riotflower says:

    You make a good point about blaming the media. It’s about interpretation. The media certainly is one of the actors, but it is everyone else around the media that choses to accept the images and perpetuate them. It is up to us to reject the images as ridiculous.
    I love the high school flash-back and the comments from the boys!
    Finally, I also shake my head at the silly range of “plus size”…I remember seeing a TV show with plus size models, but they looked NORMAL to me. They were average people.
    My personal issue with the clothing industry is the shaping- they make clothes for people with a very particular bust size per clothes size. I often have to give fantastic tops a miss because the shape of the shirt demands Much larger breasts than I sport and I know others who have to skip shirts for exactly the opposite reason. Where are these “average” sizes and shapes coming from anyway?

    • No, you have the right to rant, and I was ranting too — this is a real pet peeve of mind. I agree most women aren’t happy about themselves, and that’s not OK. But I’m not sure I think women have a “choice” to accept/reject/deal given the ridiculous power the industry has, nor am I sure that psychological changes are enough to combat the depression that comes from the “standard” being set by out-of-touch designers.

      Let’s say we choose to boycott the jackasses who think that size six is normal — but wait, that’s all of them, and where else are we going buy clothes? And look, the size 12s and up are already sold out because that’s what everyone’s really wearing! If that doesn’t send a message to the manufacturers, I don’t know what will convince them not to use stick figures as fit models.

      I’m all for women feeling good at whatever size they are, and I do agree that men like curves anyway. But I want an effective solution to the problem of the totally unrealistic fashion industry. My only two ideas right now are to 1) teach everybody to sew again, so we can all just make perfectly-fitting clothes; or 2) send Stacy London to kick the collective asses of the fashion industry, and correct them with “normal sized” every time they say “plus-size.” I’m currently favoring the second option!

      • Marie says:

        I’m not sure if choice is the right word. Decide maybe…I don’t know. But I think that if more women actually stood up and said they were proud of what they looked like, and thought of doable things that would make fashion more accessible, then that would be a great way forward. And I’m sure some people ARE doing that. This group, however, seemed to be having a collective whinge about it, and totally casting blame right and left without really making many suggestions except that they were going to petition certain fashion houses. That might work, who knows, but from what it sounded like, none of the people writing seemed all that happy with themselves.

    • @riotflower: the “standard” comes from designers using 5-foot-10, size six, fit models. I am not making this up. Oh, and they put a little pad over the model’s belly because “most women have a little more in front.” Um, right, but this padded stick is still a padded stick, and since when are most women 5’10???

      This is the sort of stuff that infuriates me; I mean, how is it even OK to think this is the right way to design women’s clothes? Guess it’s because men have run the industry for so long…

  4. Well, I think we can both agree that all women deserve to feel beautiful 🙂 and I certainly think every woman is entitled to her opinion. I should add that I’m a particular snit because I’ve had some close friends who haven’t had access to stores with decent clothing for real women — it definitely exists in some places, but not nearly enough, and even the internet is really lacking here — and that has gotten them very down, and so (in my typical way) I’m obviously getting angry on their behalf. Which isn’t always helpful, I’m the first to admit!

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