Early this year, I written a post on why you should wear what you want due to having so many women voice their fears of standing out and being judged, subsequently, sticking to ‘safe’ fashion options. Recently, it’s come to my attention that there is another side to this double-edged sword. There’s this stigma that if you’re not dressing for your body type, you’re doing fashion wrong. Ummm…. excuse me? Since when should self-expression have rules?
Somewhere amongst the rebellion against corsets and shortening hemlines, a group of people labelled themselves ‘experts’, hopped over to their local Sunday market, scouring around and comparing apples and pears, before assigning every single woman a designated fruit. What’s worse is that we think this is totally acceptable and play into such an absurdity. Why are we allowing others to dictate what we can and cannot wear? Who says that I should avoid something I love because it’s unflattering for my ‘double cherry’ body shape?
If you think I’m overreacting here, claiming that no one takes the ‘body type’ rules that seriously, well, I wish you were right. The reality is, however, that almost every woman -including myself- falls victim to dressing for her shape and knows where she stands in the fruit salad. I’ve heard a million times in the stores dressing room’s, girls claiming to one another that they wish they weren’t a pear so they could wear those cute jeans or wallowing in disappointment that their apple figure won’t ever look great in that cute top.
It was only last week, when I was showing my boyfriend all the clothes I love, on my phone, but claiming I couldn’t wear them because my body shape was wrong for it. He looked at me like I’d grown three heads and told me with unwavering assurance that I shouldn’t think like that and found these rules ridiculously funny. With the countless articles titled ‘Knowing Your Body Shape is the Key to Looking Great’ it’s hard to break away from the conditioning and look at fashion with brand new eyes. Hard, yes, but not impossible. It’s time we start claiming back fashion! Here’s how to STOP dressing for your body type…
Your body is not a problem
The biggest issue I have with this ‘dressing for your body type’ guide is that it breaks bodies down as a set of problems that need to be solved. When we follow these guides, we are agreeing that our bodies are problems. Let me tell you a little secret… there’s nothing wrong with your figure. Gasp! I know, how dare I say that when every magazine and stylist tells you differently but my mother always told me to tell the truth.
Whilst these guides are carefully crafted to not be openly offensive, the fact stands: these ‘problems’ are always about largeness and the ‘solution’ is how to create the illusion of looking slimmer. Of course, I have no issues with looking slimmer, if that’s what you desire, but I don’t agree with categorising women and telling them how to obscure their bodies. These guides validate women’s insecurities by framing them as legitimate issues and then suggesting ways to fix them. Why do they do this? If they play on your insecurities and convince you that you aren’t beautiful, then you are more likely to listen to what they tell you to buy, becoming the perfect customer whom will readily hand over all their money. Your insecurity is bought and sold and you’re letting them get away with it!
Once you learn that this is all a marketing ploy, to get you to spend your hard-earned cash, the tables will turn. Find a way to love your body and develop healthy self-awareness. No one is perfect. We all have flaws and belly rolls and no amount of ‘slimming tricks’ is going to make you feel better about it. Your body is a gift not a faulty lightbulb that needs to be changed.
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There is no perfect figure
According to ‘fashion experts’ I’m the ‘lucky one’. The girl with the desired hourglass figure that everyone is trying to get. Yet, for the first twenty years of my life I hated myself. I had the lowest self-esteem possible and would refuse to leave my flat because of my self-loathing and deep insecurities. I always covered my figure and repeatedly reminded myself how worthless I was.
The ‘perfect figure’ is a myth and even if you have it, it doesn’t guarantee you’ll obtain eternal happiness and unwavering confidence. Those things are created internally through changing your perception, treating yourself right and working on your mental health. Elongating your figure and masking your body to fake a shape that you don’t have isn’t the solution.
Even hourglass women are told to abide to a set of rules. Fashion experts tell me that I should never wear anything that is remotely loose, otherwise I risk looking like I’ve gained thirty pounds. You know what? I do look like I’ve went up a few dress sizes when my waist isn’t accentuated but why is this a bad thing? The first thing I thought when I saw this red trapeze dress was how much I loved it’s flirtatious vibe and how beautiful it was
when it moved on the body; light and airy. This thought was quickly directed to telling myself to keep scrolling down the webpage because it wouldn’t flatter my figure. Then I thought “girl, you are brainwashed af. Why are you accepting this false notion that you can’t look beautiful in that dress?“. When I kept on going back to take another peak, I knew I had to purchase it, despite what the fashion industry tells me. You’ll never guess what happened. I felt fantabulous in the dress. In fact, I can’t recall the last time I felt as happy as I did twirling around the streets than I did in this shoot…. if you couldn’t tell from the cheesy grin in these photos.
I’m not here to boast that I have the ‘ideal figure’ but to share the reality that even when you fall in the ‘desired’ category you are still a victim to the system. There’s no promise that you will love your body. I’m told my figure is still an issue and that I must carefully consider what silhouettes I create. So, what’s the point of following these rules if we’re working the solutions yet none of us are achieving that perfection we are promised? Acceptance does not equal happiness. There is always going to be someone telling you that you look like a whale in that ‘unflattering’ outfit but I happen to think those aquatic mammals are adorable, so they can keep their rules and regulations.
Don’t forget the most important part of dressing
Why care if someone else is going to like your orange jumpsuit that makes you look like you’ve recently escaped prison? Why even loose an ounce of your precious time wondering if the self-proclaimed ‘fashion experts’ approve? So what if your mother, partner or frenemies think your outfit looks god-awful? If you love it, wear it. If you feel great in your orange jumpsuit and have that sense of belonging, then strut your stuff girl. I bet you make one sexy ass jailbird. Fashion is about self-expression and styling yourself should be fun- not a box with you duct taped inside!
Would you tell me that I look hideous in this dress? Well, maybe, so it’s a good thing I don’t care what your opinion is because when I wear this red number I feel my best self and that’s what fashion should be all about.
My ultimate body guide:
IF YOU’RE SHAPED LIKE A PERSON, congratulations, you have a body!
Perhaps my guide is a little flawed in its simplicity but who needs those rigid style rules anyway? No one should tell anyone how to dress (of course, it is highly recommended to dress appropriately to work). No one should define us by our “shape.” No one should label our bodies in any way. Your body is yours, own it and tell society that they can take their beauty standards and shove it up where the sun don’t shine!