Sunday, 12 August 2012

Fashion and the Beast

This month at work I am working on a fashion client, which means that so far every day this month I have been coming home angry and frustrated with the world.  So, it is time for me to write a serious post (serious because I've eaten enough chocolate to stop being insanely angry).  I work on a lot of different clients but not even dealing with medical negligence and brain injuries makes me this depressed.  Why am I so upset by working on fashion? 

It is because people who work with and write about fashion often bring a lot of societies deepest darkest issues with them to the topic and air these issues on their blogs and in their articles.  They talk about or simply, parade their views on issues involving beauty, health, weight loss and all the things tied up in the extremely delicate matter of body image.  Then they stomp all over these delicate issues with their stiletto heels.  And may I say I have never gotten so angry so fast as when I read these blogs and articles?  It is not because I don't have a sense of style.  I have my own particular sense of style, and although it does not always match current trends it does suit me.

Lipstick and jewellery

What makes me angry is that so many of these fashion bloggers are fifteen year old girls who care for nothing but fashion and beauty.  You see pictures of them in beautiful historic cities with culture and life to absorb and enjoy, but these girls only talk about the sunglasses or shoes they were wearing that day.  Clothes are important, yes.  Wearing shoes that you think are cute and comfortable to walk in is also important.  Nobody wants to feel out of place or frumpy while they travel through amazing and beautiful cities.  But there is more to the place than simply what outfit you selected that day.

Select the outfit and then stop worrying about it, go enjoy the culture of the place.  I'm not saying you have to spend all of your time in museums, though I personally think you should do at least some of them.  I am saying that you should enjoy the sites, the food, and the people in a place rather than worrying about having your perfectly posed picture taken in front of every place that could possibly highlight your trendy sunglasses and shiny bracelets. 

Seeing thousands of photos of you posing for a camera rather than enjoying the amazing place you have the great fortune to be visiting is enough to annoy me on the best of days.  But these fashion bloggers do not stop there.  They continue to try my patience with negative messages about body image.  Entire blogs are entitled skinny something or other, and go on about how you can eat less, exercise more and become super skinny.  Recently though the trend is becoming more subtle and even scarier than simply glorifying thinness.

There have been too many people crying out for positive body image and healthy ideas about beauty and bodies.  So now the trend is to talk about getting fit.  The scary thing about this is that it cloaks these negative messages in a language of fitness that is hard to argue with.  Should we strive to be fit?  Yes.  Being healthy, eating good foods, and exercising are good things.  Yet, the images and slogans that go with this trend of fitspiration are hardly promoting healthy attitudes.  Just because the image has a person wearing a sports bra does not mean that the slogan "You are entirely up to you, make your body, make you life, make yourself" or "don't eat anything today that you'll regret tomorrow" isn't a horrible message.  Messages that do more harm than good.  You can check out an amazing article about it at Beauty Redefined.

The problem is there is always an element of truth to these slogans.  Yes, you should be strong and fit so that you can get out and do the things you love.  If you want to climb mountains, or go for a jog to feel the fresh air on your face and the grass beneath your feet, you should be able to do that without falling apart.  A little bit of fitness is good for everyone.  It keeps you healthy longer and will help you lead a better life without health issues down the road.  However, messages telling you that you can and should control your body to make it look a certain way do not contribute to health they rather promote unhealthy ideas about body images that lead to a host of eating disorders and self acceptance issues.  Every woman I have ever met, and even some men, have issues with accepting themselves.  This latest trend of fitspiration makes it worse.  Because now, not only do you need to be thin, you also need to have a six-pack and the legs of a marathon runner to be good enough.

I say we have it all backwards.  We should exercise to make sure we are healthy enough to do the things we love.  Exercise itself should not be the goal.  If you spend your entire life in a gym trying to reach some unattainable ideal then you are not living.  You should be able to eat a cookie without feeling guilty.  Hell, eat five cookies and enjoy your life.  Think about how lucky you are that you have the ability to buy food, including chocolate, and enjoy it.  Wear clothes and things that you like.  Not things that twenty other fashion bloggers posted yesterday and claim are beautiful.  Do you like it?  Then wear it.

And remember that clothes are made to go on you, because you are beautiful and the right clothes only serve to show others how gorgeous you are just the way you are.  You are not a hanger for the clothes.  Do not go about thinking that you need to get thinner or more fit to wear a certain thing.  The clothes are meant to be made for you, rather than you forcing yourself to change for the clothes.  That is madness.  Remember that everyone struggles to find clothes that fit sometimes.  We are all completely unique individuals and the stores that you walk into will not always have things that fit you right.  My best friend and I have always had trouble buying jeans (you can check out her amazing post on this subject at It Is All My Doing).  This doesn't mean that we are the problem.  It means that they are simply not prepared to handle the beauty of our unique curves.  And the same goes for you.  You are allowed to pursue fitness in a healthy way and eat cookies at the same time.  But don't forget that your beauty is not determined by a number on a scale, or the perfect six-pack, or the designer clothes you wear. 

So, if you haven't eaten some chocolate today then join me in eating a cookie.  Or two.  Or three.  Let your hair down and please stop worrying about your make-up for a minute.  And enjoy your life.

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