Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Have We Really Become More Open-Minded About Body Image?

Back in the 1990s, when I was a wee little schoolgirl, Kate Moss was starting to become world-famous.  There was a lot of controversy surrounding her weight, but it only seemed to increase her popularity.  More and more models with waif-like figures dominated the fashion scene.  One common argument was simply that skinnier women looked better in clothes than thicker women.

The 2nd decade of the new millenium ushered in a new school of thought on the image of the ideal body, thanks in part to the rise of models Lara Stone and Kate Upton, and as the best example, Kim Kardashian. This new thought declared that a curvier and more womanly type of figure, one with wider hips and larger breasts, should be celebrated.

However, fashion magazines and luxury fashion houses refuse to celebrate this curvier body.  Sure, singer Adele and Kate Upton have landed on the cover of Vogue, but all the models and even the actresses in the fashion spreads of Vogue and similar magazines continue to be very thin.  Even spreads that feature clothing that supposedly flatters curvier women star waiflike models.

On tpf, there's a thread dedicated to the Isabel Marant pour H&M collection, and I got caught up in sharing the excitement with my fellow tpfers by posting info about stock in stores and a couple of modeling pics in it.  So did a few others.  Well, this topic came to mind because I noticed there were 2 tpfers who got a lot more compliments on their pics than I did.  I noticed a difference: their bodies were much slimmer than mine.  I'm not fat by any means, but yes, I do have hips, a butt, and boobs.  No matter how much I work out or diet, these aren't going anywhere.  It took me a long while, but I've accepted them and actually work out to keep these things in the best shape I can.

So maybe we haven't become THAT much more open-minded then.  We, as a society, still value the thin body above others, at least in terms of fashion.  Maybe we've made a little progress by putting curvier models in the magazines, but keep in mind that even though Kim, Kate, and Lara are still curviER than the other models, they're still thinner than the AVERAGE woman.  I'm simply quoting someone else, but I read a female designer once said that there were misogynistic male designers who didn't want women with womanly bodies wearing their clothes, so they purposely made only clothes that flattered boyish figures.  Unfortunately, the female designer stated that these male designers were in the majority.

I have to accept that most of the luxury fashion world looks down on women with my body type.  So does that mean I don't get to participate in it?  No, but the trick is to find the pieces that flatter me and to find the designers who do love women.  And bags and shoes don't discriminate against dress size ;)

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