Fashion magazine schizophrenia

An avid magazine reader, I have noticed that about once a year, pretty much all the magazines I love reading have one issue about curvy women (bar maybe Vogue... but then again that would be pushing it!)

Now before anyone gets too excited, let me try and explain what the magazines mean by curvy.... You see, the definition of curvy in fashion media speak is quite a wide range, from UK size 10 to a UK size 16... A size 10-12 myself, I acknowledge my bootilicious side and have come to like it over the years (although honestly I prefer when I'm firmly bootilicious and not gelatinously bootilicious LOL) but I don't think I'm plus-size. However, even if we were to accept that size 10 is indeed curvy, I have to point out double standards: a similarly narrow understanding of "normal sizing" doesn't seem to apply to the small end of the spectrum; where have you ever read that UK size 6 is overly skinny?

Moving on to another inconsistency in today's fashion media: very often, said curvy women issue comes no more than one or two issues before, you guessed it, the "Prepare for summer crash diet" issue. This is what happened for example with French ELLE last month. Mind you I totally love French ELLE, it's perhaps my favourite magazine out there. They had a fabulous issue with "plus-size" model Tara Lynne on the cover in March, wearing the most amazing white Herm├Ęs jumpsuit; trust me, looking at the pictures in that editorial, I wanted to be a size 16 and look just like Tara. She is gorgeous!!! Nevertheless, ELLE didn't think it was making show of multiple personality disorder by following this glorious issue with a magazine filled with ideas on how to lose the weight quickly and pictures of 16-year old girls who looked like puberty was still something they were waiting for. Inconsistent much?

Before any of you adorable followers point it out looking at one of my previous posts, I am currently trying to firm up by working out more and taking better care of myself. The reason for this health blast is that it makes me feel better not to jiggle my way around the world, but I don't want to identify with women who look like anorexic little boys, with no curves at all. My summer resolutions are about health and feeling good, not starving myself to fit a size that is not natural for me. What I'm trying to say is that I find it too bad that, in 2010, with all the talk of diversity and health etc etc, no mainstream fashion magazine seems to be able to really embrace "real women". It is still about the skinny diktat.

I've read somewhere that one of the reasons why the diktat won't go away is because fashion insiders believe that clothes don't look good on real women... Well that seems an extremely interesting view of the world, if you consider the shape of your average fashionista out there, as well as, and perhaps most importantly for the fashion industry, that of people who can afford designer clothes. I work in an environment filled with executive women and I can tell you there must be about two of them who are smaller than a size 10-12. If your customers are not size 6, then don't design with just size 6 in mind. I know larger sizes cost more to produce (more fabric etc) but I'm convinced that plus-size fashionistas won't mind paying a few pounds or euros more for a garment that fits perfectly.

The other thing that I've read is how some people in the fashion industry believe that we shoppers like to dream... In my case, it is true, I want to dream, but by that I mean dreaming about the incredible fabrics that Alexander McQueen launched down the runway on his last show, or the design of the gorgeous Bottega Venetta dresses, but I have to say that I don't really dream about looking sickly, sorry. So if I were to send a note to designers and fashion magazines, it would be to continue to make us dream with their beautiful creations but to quit trying to make us dream about a hungrier self, it doesn't work anymore. I for one believe you can be beautiful and look amazing in designer gear above a size 8, just look at Tara!

PS: If you're wondering, UK size 10 = US size 6 = FR size 38


Mada said...

I am happy finally someone pointed out that skinny does not equal healthy.
If we think some years back, women with curves were among the most desired among their kind. Overly skinny just meant that you did not have the material resources to live a plentiful life. Having reached the land of overconsumption in our modern times it seems that our view of beauty has moved 180 degrees.
However, it doesn't take long to remind ourselves what beautiful is when we look at Tara.

Vanportrait said...

Just found that post by accident. Amazing. Thank you for writing those lines. Being beautiful and looking sick are two different pairs of shoes.