A while back my amazing Aunt Mora posted a link to this great article about “plus size” models and the campaign to restore some waistline sanity in fashion. Some businesses are even catering to the “plus-size” community now, like this one in Brazil that is making bikinis for the bigger girls. What does that mean though: PLUS size? Apparently, the fashion world thinks that plus size is between sizes 6-14. Funny, I’ve been all but one of those sizes in the past 5 years, and I never considered myself to be plus sized. I hear all the arguments for using walking hangers to display the artistry of fashion, and I completely get the idea of wanting to dress beautiful people to promote the art and amazingness that is fashion. Do forgive me, because I am a very recent convert to even beginning to try to understand or even pay attention to the fashion world, but I have a few critiques I’d like to lay out here.
Our former roommate A-M was the one who actually got me thinking about what I might actually look good wearing with her obsession with What Not to Wear. Sure, I had friends who liked to dress me up in college; I swear that my friend Holly should be my personal stylist guru. But it wasn’t until graduate school that I actually started paying attention to any sort of fashion trend. This was very unfortunate timing, as most people know that graduate students have little to no income. Of course, I’ve never had a very large income, having gone from undergraduate student/waitress to grad student/mommy. Soo the really sad part is that once I actually started paying attention, I either could not afford to buy anything really fashionable OR was soo penny pinchingly Scrooge-ish that I refused to spend the money to buy really nice clothes. It’s a problem. I’m working on it.
I am not writing this blog entry to chastise the fashion community for the ridiculous perpetualization of horrific body images and the ideals that they are putting forth. That is not my fight to fight, and there are many others doing it much better than I ever could. I’m also not writing this blog post about the scariness of raising girls in this hyper-advertisement centered world where they will be held to impossible standards and forced to navigate a minefield of self-esteem pitfalls far too early. Yes those are amazing fights and important discussions to be having, but that is not my focus here. This is personal!
Some days, like many women I know, I wake up and feel like every single thing I have in my closet makes me feel like a chubby blubber monster. I am NOT a chubby blubber monster. I exercise. I eat healthy food, most of the time. I can run 5 miles without stopping. I can row 5K in 22 minutes. I can carry a screaming flailing 30+ pound child up 4 flights of stairs and not be sore the next day. I am healthy! So why do I feel like a chubby blubber monster? I am 33 years old, and my whole day can still be ruined when the tiniest bit of my waistline is cinched in my jeans. Why is my self-esteem inexplicably tied to the way my clothes fit and the way I perceive them to make me look? I don’t get it. I can intellectually flay the absurd logic that tells me that I’m supposed to look a certain way that I am never realistically going to achieve, but that doesn’t change the way I feel when I get up in the morning and want to throw all of my clothes out the window and scream WHY WHY WHY am I a chubby blubber monster?
On a much more practical level, I do actually have the money to go out and buy clothes that fit, look nice, and make me feel well. There are 3 major problems I’m facing. First, I am currently living in a place where I don’t actually know where to buy stuff all the time. Second, I am one of those ladies that needs a second opinion, and sadly my fashion guru friends who like to dress me up are all living elsewhere. Third, the current fashion trends going on in Europe right now are mostly not at all befitting a lovely 30-something grad student mommy. Examples: I refuse to wear skinny jeans! I know they would look horrible, so I don’t even try them on. (I am not the first to make the joke that they shouldn’t make them in my size, it is just a lie!) All the spring/summer stuff is out now, and I am also not going to embrace the current super-short shorts with leggings/tights underneath. No, just no!
This brings me to my final point. I understand fashion as art and models as hangers, but wouldn’t it be a much better business decision to make fashion that makes average sized people look and feel good? When you can decorate an average woman and make her feel special and beautiful only by putting on your wares, then you will have accomplished something. Fashion world, you are missing out on a serious money-making opportunity here. I AM the average sized woman, and I do not feel good when I put my clothes on most days. I’m sure that Stacey and Clinton could help me with this, but frankly the effort it would require of me to actually figure out what to purchase is not in me right now.
As of now, I will be taking applications for a Cinna-esque stylist position. You need not look like Lenny Kravitz, wear gold eyeliner, or make me clothing with pretend flames, but you absolutely MUST make me feel good about the way that I look. I promise to buy lunch during our shopping days and shower you with hugs of appreciation. Anyone want to play dress-up with a 33 year old semi-athletic squishy tummied mommy of 2 grad student living in Berlin?