Tag Archives: size

Because Every Body is A Work of Art

Yesterday on the hairpin* I came across this video and had to share it.

I’ve already written a post about why comparing women’s bodies to fruit is dumb, but comparing them to artist’s works might be even stupider. Because when the girl in the video says she is a “Matisse” I immediately think of this image:

Obviously Matisse has some gorgeous paintings of frolicking women, but like most artists, he has a wide breadth of work and painted many different subjects of all shapes and sizes. So honestly, I prefer the fruit, at least they’re standard shapes.

I also just don’t get this campaign. I get that they did research and learned that women don’t like to be compared to fruit (duh), but did they take it one step further and ask them if they like to be categorized at all? And are these undergarments coming in artists names instead of sizes? Like instead of being a size 8 are you just a Rembrandt? I’m confused.

How about this, maybe we don’t compare women’s bodies to anything and they can just be you know, bodies? And then we can all like wear clothes that fit us and dress ourselves without being told that our shape category doesn’t allow us to wear gaucho pants or double-breasted blazers or whatever the hell we feel like. Maybe we’ll look stupid because everyone knows a Modigliani should never wear ponchos, or apples should wear belts with everything—but whatever. Even if we’re blissfully unaware of what paintings and fruit we resemble, we’ll probably be happier.

*If you don’t know what the hairpin is you should check it out. It’s probably one of the funniest lady-centered blogs out there. It’s not preachy or self-righteous at all, which is a breath of fresh air, and it consistently makes me spew my morning coffee all over my keyboard—and that’s no easy feat.

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Your Body is Not a Fruit

The other day I was looking through images to use as reference and I stumbled across this illustration, I’m not sure who it was done by:

It was featured with an article about how it’s important to know your body shape in order to be a snazzy dresser and “know your flaws” or some such advice that doesn’t seem like anything new, but it struck me how flipping annoying it is that we’re always focusing on the shapes of women. In case you don’t know, let me give you the breakdown:

If you have broad shoulders and a narrow waist you’re called “apple-shaped”, because some apples look like this.

If you have wide hips and a smaller chest and shoulders, you’re “pear-shaped”, because you see, pears look like this.

If you have more of a straight body, then you get to be a “banana”, lucky you.

And if you’re super lucky and have a small waist but a generous bust and hips, then you get to be the very coveted “hourglass” shape.

If you’re not as lucky you don’t get to be a fruit, or even a time measurement device, you just get to be a “circle”. See that girl all the way on the right in the illustration up on top? Notice how she is the only one with a different face and legs? If you’re overweight your body apparently has no real shape rather than “round”, isn’t that nice?

The shapes and fruits are always changing, in the July issue of Glamour there is advice for how to wear flattering shorts, and the categories are pear-shaped, plus-sized, and petite.

(Click to see larger image)

I know Glamour is trying, but to me this page says, “if you’re pear-shaped or plus-sized and going to wear shorts, you should stick to dark colors and a loose fit so nobody will actually notice that you’re wearing shorts. If you’re petite, only wear short-shorts because they make you look tall”— so what do you do if you’re petite and not comfortable showing that much leg? Or what if you’re petite but plus sized also, quelle surprise!

That is yet another problem, there can’t be only these five shapes can there? With so many millions of women, how can we fall into so few categories? I’ll use myself as an example, I would be a pear-shape in that my lower half is at least two sizes bigger than my upper half, but I also have a big bust, and a small waist, what does that make me then? All humans are so diverse in so many ways that we should know by now that we can’t be classified, and all that happens when we do is further separate ourselves from each other—and that is how wars start people! Ok, it’s not that serious, but in a way it is.

So I ask you, does it really help to look in the mirror and remind yourself, “well I’m a banana shape, so I’d better strap this here belt around my waist to give the illusion that I don’t actually look the way I look?” I don’t think so. Don’t get me wrong, everyone should dress however makes them feel good. If wearing a belt to give yourself more of a waist makes you feel feminine, that is fabulous, but as I always seem to be repeating, it shouldn’t be a mandate. Also, it’s depressing to constantly be beating yourself (and all of us) over the head with these rules.

You see, I don’t like my body compared to fruit, I don’t like my body compared to inanimate objects, or shapes, or you know what? I don’t like comparing my body to anything or anyone. I hate labels that are perpetuated by magazines or given as advice on reality shows as a way to help people dress to accentuate their assets. I know that the people who use these classifications have the best intentions, but they really don’t mean anything. I’ve never met anyone who was helped by being told they were a pear or banana-shape, it doesn’t make you feel better about yourself or your body, it’s just another label, and I am so sick of labels.

Why do we feel the need to put everything in categories? It can be fun sometimes, when it comes to astrology, or numerology, but those things are defined by the day you were born, not the way you look. People love the zodiac because you can take an ancient system of symbols and personality traits and see how you fit up against it, or how you don’t. I’ve never felt bad when someone has told me I’m a typical (or an atypical) Capricorn, sometimes it’s a little annoying because that’s not all I am, but when someone calls me a pear-shape, that gets me really pissed.

I’ve never seen a man’s body compared to fruit, and they come in all shapes and sizes too. Why not a cucumber shape for those tall lanky guys? Or perhaps a melon shape for the gentleman with a bit of belly? Nope, won’t happen, and it shouldn’t. The last thing I would want to do is make men feel bad about their bodies, it’s bad enough that women have to deal with it. What’s scary is that it seems like that is the direction we’re headed in—everyone gets to be scrutinized. We just can’t stop comparing ourselves to everyone and everything, and it’s incredibly unhealthy.

Why is it that the world thinks women need so much help? It’s true, it can be hard to get dressed some days, and when you have certain parts of your body that you would like to downplay and others that you would like to highlight it helps to know what they are, but usually we already know that don’t we? You live in this body all the time, you know its flaws and its strengths, having them pointed out to you only makes you more self-conscious.

What if you don’t care that you’re a banana shape; what if, god forbid, you like that you have a body with straighter lines rather than curves, what is wrong with that? Why are we made to feel that there is something wrong with our body shape and then told to dress in order to make it look more like another woman’s body—the ideal body shape?

This is just one piece of advice I see repeated over and over again, and it’s become so much a part of the vernacular of fashion that we don’t even think about it anymore. That’s why I’m talking about here, because the whole point of this blog is to put some darts in those conventions, and question where they came from and why we need to have them. So repeat after me:

I am not a fruit, I am a person, and thank goodness for that!

Do any of you like being compared to fruits? let me know!


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Drama in the Dressing Room

On Long Island, if it’s a weekend, and it’s cloudy, chances are everyone is at the mall. I’m usually much too intimidated by the lack of parking and the overpriced stores to venture there even on a weekday, but this weekend I was looking for something specific, (a dress for an occasion) so I braved the crowds of teenagers wearing midriffs, all riled up from the end of another school year, and I went shopping. Needless to say the mall was a nightmare involving scary parking garages, overpriced clothing, the aforementioned throngs of screaming teens, and of course, no clothes that fit.

I usually love shopping, especially when I have nothing particular to buy. Once I need something specific, however, nothing fits, nothing is affordable, and, like Saturday, all I end up leaving the the store with is low self esteem. Without fail, whether it’s shopping for shoes, bras, a bathing suit (which I’ll get to later in the week), or anything else you really need, suddenly a seemingly simple task turns into a horror of dressing rooms, mirrors, and ill fitting garments. Nothing kills self esteem like a bad shopping trip, frustration comes easy when you’re staring at yourself up-close in a claustrophobic mirrored box when you could be doing something vastly more productive.

My experience Saturday played out like many a shopping trip throughout my life. I walk through the store until I’ve accumulated an armful of 10+ pieces to try on. At first I’m excited, there are pretty patterns, new shapes, and the potential of finding that perfect addition to my wardrobe. Then I enter the tiny dressing room with the oh-so-unflattering florescent lighting and everything goes to hell. Immediately I realize I’m wearing far too many layers. I used to insist on leaving on as much clothing as possible while trying things on, but that’s how you end up with tops that are too big, or skirts that are way too short, so I’ve resigned myself to stripping down before I get dressed up. I always start with something I’m not crazy about, and then work my way up to the things I’m really hoping will look good. There is a desperation in it, as the number of potential items dwindles. This shirt is too baggy, that skirt doesn’t fit over my hips, yikes, is that a balloon hem!? By the time you get down to those last couple pieces, you’re praying that something, just one thing, will look good, and be affordable too. Perhaps like me, once you realize everything looks awful, you go back and try it all again, just to make sure. Then you attempt to justify clothes that make you look terrible, just so the whole trip won’t have been in vain. Of course once you come to your senses and realize you have no money, and like Stacy and Clinton on What Not to Wear tell you, you should buy clothes that fit, you give up.

So, I emerge from the dressing room with nothing, handing back those 10+ beautiful garments that will never look beautiful on me. I look like I’ve been through a war. The sweat has made my make-up a blotchy mess, my hair is in tangles from pulling things over my head, clothes are all askew and rumpled from sitting on the floor, and when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror as I leave, I feel utterly hopeless. It’s not the worst thing in the world, it’s trivial, but it can ruin the whole day, or even the week, particularly when you remember you have to find something soon and you’re going go through the whole ordeal again.

I wonder if there are women who don’t have this problem, who breeze into a store and everything they pull on looks amazing, but I doubt they exist. Maybe one day stores will implement better lighting, or make clothes that fit more diverse body shapes (no really, who looks good in a balloon hem? I want to know!), but I don’t think that would help anyway, maybe it’s something we do to ourselves, maybe it’s the pressure. I’ve tried shopping online to avoid the whole mess, but I only end up with badly fitting garments that I then have to pay to ship back, or take to the post office or retail location to return, so I guess there is no solution. Actually, my solution on Saturday was to go to Sephora, where I could buy something that I knew would fit. I’m not saying retail therapy is a good thing, but sometimes it is just the thing, especially when it comes in the form of a lip stain you’ve been wanting for months that is finally in stock.

Tarte Lip Stain with LipSurgence™ Technology in Enchanted

One coat:

Two coats:

See, all better!

More on lipsticks tomorrow, stay tuned!

What does everyone else feel about the nightmare that shopping can be? Is it always fun? Do you have a method to get through it? I’d love to hear from you!

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