How Fashion dictates aperfect body
How many times have you complained about your "not-so-perfect
body"? How many times have you thought, "I'm fat, therefore cannot wear something"? How many times have you compared your body with that of fashion models and craved a thin body? Ever gone shopping and felt ashamed for increasing in size?
Since the beginning of fashion journalism, thin women and muscular men have been portrayed as "ideal" and "perfect."
During the 1900s, it was rare to see a "plus size woman" on television. Even today, we rarely see such "plus size models" on the runway.
Fashion giants like Gucci and Louis Vuitton, have always cast ultra-thin models in their runways and advertisements.
But why is that? And more importantly what impact does it create? Let’s deep dive to understand!
Impact on youth
10% of the American population suffer from eating disorders. 95% of them are 15 to 25-year-olds. 75% of people aging between 12 and 25 years suffer from eating disorders in Hong Kong. Research done by Anne E. Beckerr reveals that Asian girls have tried at least once to reduce their body weight after watching Western TV shows. Though the fashion industry is not directly responsible for eating disorders, it does have a role to play here.
Role of the Fashion industry
We look into magazines and social media for the latest trends and styles. Both of these platforms indirectly dictate a perfect body type. We are so used to seeing thin women and muscular men, we start hating our bodies. What about teens and young adults? They start to believe that one needs to be thin to be "perfect." They are still developing a sense of value and beliefs. They can be easily manipulated into thinking that "thin bodies are must-haves." Though this seems to be a small matter while reading, it has a huge impact on their health. It has a strong effect and may genetically modify future generations. We never get to see pictures like this one on the cover page.
Thinking beyond what is shown
Have you ever tried a dress of your size that is too tight in one brand but fits right in another brand? Almost all of us would have faced this problem. That is because each brand has its sizing chart. Now answer this - there is no ideal sizing chart that can be followed by every brand. Then why do we have an ideal body type? If these brands can have individuality in sizing, then we can have individuality in our bodies as well.
We are so into getting a thin/muscular body that we forget to appreciate our own body. What is so special about these so-called ideal/perfect bodies? Is it worth the struggle? What are we gonna achieve by having a thin body? And what is it that we cannot achieve with a body we have? Sit down and answer these questions before hitting the gym to lose weight.
A few decades ago, women in Europe and Britain wore tight corsets to reduce their waist size .The picture given below shows how wearing a corset can deform the rib cage and realign the organs of the wearer. Women in China used to break their feet with a ribbon to get small feet. Back in the 1800s, it was common in China to see women breaking the legs of 4-year-old girls. They are just toddlers and still face the pain of breaking bones just for the sake of “looking good”. This practice is called the "Lotus feet tradition." In some western countries, women used to surgically remove 2 to 4 rib bones to have super thin waists. In a few other countries, a part of muscle under the jawline is removed and attached to the nose to get the "perfect nose." All these sounds barbaric to us in the 20th century. But what about inserting plastic into breasts and face? What about getting surgeries to reduce weight? Some people eat the food and immediately make themself throw up to lose weight. If corsets and Lotus feet are barbaric, then so are plastic surgeries and weight loss techniques.
Things to remember
There are certain things we should keep in mind when it comes to fashion journalism.
The fashion industry is also a business. Making dresses for thin bodies would naturally reduce the cost of fabric used. Creating one few body sizes and making clothes using those standards would naturally reduce their production cost. The ideal body depicted in fashion magazines is done for profit.
As we already read above, there is no stand sizing system. Each brand creates its sizing according to its niche and the demographics of its niche. So you don't have to fit into the "S" size in every brand. You don't have to dress according to your body type either. Just wear it, if you like it.
Every time we open social media and look at the photos of an influencer, we start cursing our bodies. Social media makes us believe that these unrealistic depictions are "ideal" and "must-haves." We fail and sometimes refuse to believe that these are edited photos.
Let this picture remind you that everyone is beautiful in their own way.
What can be done?
A change should start with ourselves to be an effective one. We need to realize that beauty begins the moment we start to love ourselves. But, given the condition of today's society, we need self-acceptance before self-love. All social characteristics such as color, size, race, national origin, disability status, sexuality, and gender should be embraced and accepted by everyone.
Instead of trying to get thin/muscular, we must start working for a healthy body. The only depiction of a perfect/ideal body should be a healthy body. Not all fit bodies are muscular and not all fat bodies are obese. You can be in any shape you want and be healthy as well.
There should be a depiction of every body type in the media. Fashion schools should start teaching croquis of all body types and not just ultra-thin ones.
Fashion magazines should start casting people with different bodies rather than thin/muscular ones. We need people who have dark skin, curves, and scars in modelling. We need more queer and butch representation in fashion journalism. People from the LGBT community should also be represented as who they are and not as some vulnerable community. Big fashion giants should cast more trans models in their runways.
People should understand that feeling beautiful has nothing to do with looking thin. Recognise your body as a personality delivery system, designed expressly to carry your character from one place to another. Let’s be more kind to ourselves and appreciate the things our body does for us.
For once, let us stop thinking that our bodies are ugly. Let’s start appreciating what we have. The body you hate today may be a dream for someone else.
Most of us have body issues of some kind. But we need to start realising that the body you consider “flawless” comes with problems too. You are never a problem. Your size doesn’t matter. Only you know how hard it is to live your life. And your body carried you through your hardships. It looks exactly how it is supposed to be. So be kind to yourself and spread beauty and positivity to all.