Saturday, October 10, 2009

The “”Aspirational” (unrealistic, unhealthy) Queen is Dead. God Save the Queen (or any) Size!

By MillaX for Glamporium and Fashion Sanity

Recently “Brigitte” a German magazine announced that it would no longer use extra-thin models in its pages and is auditioning women from all of Germany to use them as models instead. This announcement came on the heels of a similar pronouncement and manifesto by “Glamour” magazine, a Conde Nast publication, both on its website and the “Ellen Degeneris” show.
Why the change of heart all of a sudden?
Well, it’s been a long while in the making. For decades now, the media, the marketing and advertising industry, the fashion, medical and beauty industries, and Western society as a whole have been inducing women to purchase products by causing inadequacies, low-self esteem and self-loathing in their intended target audience. And women have bought into these notions lock, stock and 38 caliber barrel.

Things are even worse in Latin American countries like mine. There is a reason why there are more plastic surgeries per woman in Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia and Argentina than anywhere else in the world. And that is not a good thing. Women are worth much more than their looks.

We have believed that our hair is not shiny or bouncy enough. Our complexion is flawed. And especially, that we can never be thin enough. We are offered skeletal women, some with the same body characteristics as malnourished people in 3rd World, famine-devastated countries as “ideals”. I saw photos a couple of years ago from a new collection by Marchesa with Alice Abreu in a blue evening gown where she looked like a war camp survivor. It was inducing pity, concern and even a little bit of disgust on me. Not lust for the dress.
I am a plus size woman. WELL into plus size territory. Not a pseudo plus size (and actually a fairly normal straight size) 6 or 8 like Whitney on America’s Next Top Model or the size 6 model Tim Gunn called “zaftig” on Project Runway. No, I wear a size 18. Sometimes even a 20.
Ten years ago, aspirational marketing would have worked on me. 25 years ago aspirational marketing and the obsession with thinness almost killed me. I developed serious eating disordered behavior. I have been in remission for almost 17 years. I have never binged, emotionally overeaten or sat on my butt being “unhealthy”. I am just larger than average and MUCH larger than the imposed ideal. And guess what? I am also MUCH healthier than I used to be when all my energy was spent in efforts to meet that ideal, both physically and mentally. I am no longer purging. I am no longer getting up in the middle of the night to do sit ups. I am no longer taking amphetamines, laxatives, diuretics or anti-depressants when I do not need them or the health risks associated with their use or putting my life at risk in the hands of a surgeon to perhaps, one day, finally be good enough to live, dress or love.
I am all of that NOW.
I refuse to weight myself. I refuse to let my doctors weight me unless they have a legitimate scientific reason to do so like dosing anesthesia. I do not allow them to humiliate me, guilt me or judge me because of my size. If they want to assess my health, they need to use truly objective measures like my fasting blood glucose, blood pressure (with the RIGHT size cuff) or lipid profile. All of those happen to be stellar. I am HEALTHY. Much healthier than when I was trying to be thin. I let them know that weight loss advice or measures are neither wanted nor welcome.
And most of all, my body is MINE. No one else gets to have an opinion on it. Period, end of story, case closed. I do not aspire to look like anyone else but me. Beautiful, healthy, one of a kind me.
I am not the only one who thinks that way. Website after website, testimonial after testimonial, women all over the world are tired of hating themselves or hurting themselves to meet an impossible and actually inferior ideal
The fashion industry has been a culprit of this trend. They have fostered this impossible ideal and very few magazines, modeling agencies or designers have done much to reverse it.
They just shrug their shoulders and say “Let’s face it, that is the way things are”. They are that way because they let them be and because we have let them. There is NO good reason why a designer’s sample size has to be a size 0 or 2 or even 4. It takes only 1 more yard of fabric to make a size 14 garment than a size 2 garment. Just check the fabric yardage requirements on the back of any commercial pattern. They just believe that we “aspire” to look like starved concentration camp victims. Do they think we are really that crazy?
Finally the women of the world have started to make their voices on the subject be heard because really, things could not get any worse.
When a size 6 woman is considered to be plus size or a size 10 is considered extra large, sanity has left the building.
The media and the fashion industry have started to get the message. Glamour got thousands of letters after publishing the photo of a lovely looking woman with a tiny little belly. “Drop Dead Diva”, a TV show about a beautiful and vibrant size 16 attorney is a big hit.
More and more mainstream designers are making clothing in larger sizes.
Women all over the world are embracing the idea that they are worthy of love, happiness and great clothes regardless of their size and weight.
It is time the fashion and beauty industry start treating their target customer base with respect and love and start addressing their various needs and desires. It is up to fashion designers to make clothes that fit our bodies, not for us to manipulate our bodies to fit their clothes.
Very few among us look like Linda Evangelista or Natalia Vodianova.
No 35,000 dollar dress, hair cut, lipstick, diet or surgery can make us look like them. What we want is things that help us celebrate our differences and individual beauty, just the way we are.

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