A while ago I read an interesting piece by Pandora Sykes about the fashion industry as a whole- inclusive of social media, printed copy, the catwalks and everything else in between. In particular Sykes had a bugbear with perceptions and expectations of women in fashion, something that I’d like to build upon and discuss a little more, albeit far less eloquently. More rambling musings than anything else, here are some of the things I think we, as women, should consider when entering the world of fashion- whether that be via your favourite glossy, scrolling through your social media or hitting the high-street for a new dress.
‘What size are you really?’
8. 14. 12. The sizes of the last three items I bought. Generally, I’m a 10. But we need to remember that sizing is not the be all and end all. We’ve all gone into H&M changing room and died off about the fact we’ve had to buy that little pleather skirt in 4 sizes bigger. But here’s the thing. It’s not you. It’s them. There’s no consistency with sizing across the high-street. A 10 in M&S is completely different to a 10 in River Island or Topshop. And don’t get me started on designer brands. Nine out of ten times I’m pushing a large if there’s only three sizing options. A large. If I, as a 10, fit a large in a designer brand does that make me, quite simply put, ‘large?’ Of course not. But it’s damaging for she who is bigger than me. Either way, let’s not take sizing to heart. Let’s keep in mind that all shop sizings are different (some more ridiculous than others) and embrace what fits us best. It’s only a number.
‘Does she actually think she’s an 8?’
This leads on from the ‘what size are you really’ point. Why can’t we experiment with clothes and feel good about it? With slip dresses I go up a size so they hang a little better and with jeans I got down a size so they don’t stretch in the wash. And with jumpers? The bigger the better- I love a baggy knit. Wear what makes you feel good. Wear what flatters you and what you feel confident in. Again, don’t let your size dictate what you’re going to put on. Clothes have the ability to boost our confidence and flatter our bodies in such a way that make us feel truly beautiful. Let’s not sweat small stuff.
‘Can you really consider yourself a real woman?’
‘She’s a real woman.’ Dear Lord. Never does a phrase grate on me more. The term ‘real woman’ is totally and utterly toxic. No matter what size you are. If you’re a curvaceous 16 with voluptuous boobs and a killer set of hips does that make you more of a woman than the long, lithe beauty with legs to die for? Is she somehow stripped of her femininity due to her lack of curves in favour of a more ‘womanly’ shape? I’m a 10. I have a butt and boobs and a wobbly tummy and on occasion, fantastically chafy thighs. But I’m still quite petite. With this in mind I suppose society would say I sit somewhere in the middle of the ‘womanhood’ scale. Not quite curvaceous enough to boast the real woman tag, yet not quite skinny enough to become denounced. And what about models with dream like proportions? All flat toned stomachs and pert little butts? They can’t be real women either- ‘They’re not what men really want.’ But the reality is that the concept of ‘proper’ womanhood based on body shape is both harmful and degrading. We’re all women. All of us. And pardon me as I begin with the clichés, but we’re all beautiful in our own unique ways, whether we’re delicate and slender or boasting a serious abundance of curves. Or like me, if you find yourself sitting awkwardly in the middle, not quite ‘fashion’ slim and not quite ‘plus-size’ big. Whatever those kind of labels actually mean. Do we need more diversity within every sector of the fashion world? Yes. But in the meantime, if we educate ourselves on how to use phrases like ‘She’s a real woman’ correctly, it’s a start. We’re all her.
‘But she’s so much slimmer online.’
The obvious one. But I think this little rant marks a fitting time to reiterate the ‘problem’ of social media. We’ll start with my own Instagram as an example. My feed is a curated edit of what I want people to see. I post the pictures where I look and feel my best. But it doesn’t reflect the reality of my day to day life. I don’t post pictures where I feel I look horrid. Shoot me for my lack of ‘honesty’ why don’t you?! But that’s just the thing, we’re allowed to post pictures where we look and feel pretty. Hell, I love a compliment as much as the next person, but keep in mind that whoever you’re obsessing over doesn’t look like that all the time. The same goes for magazines, although we’re going a lil’ more down the Photoshop route here. We know that Photoshop exists. We know that the models on our pages aren’t always exactly as they seem due to airbrushing. So we should strive to be smarter than this world of overwhelming perfection. As aforementioned, diversity is needed, but until now let’s think outside the box. We can have beautiful squares and enjoy gorgeous models. But be aware- all is not as it seems.
So there we have it. A few issues we’re sure to come across when navigating the world of fashion and everything within it. But come on. We’re young. We don’t have time for this cr*ap. Let’s eat a burger and put on a pretty dress. No matter what the size.