Archive for the ‘Fashion’ Category

I’ve always had a big butt. Even when I was 95 pounds in sixth grade, I had a big butt. So naturally I was thrilled to hear about the new trend this summer. Oh, didn’t you hear? Big butts are in for the summer! Last week the NY Daily News made the big announcement. Those of us who possess nice “buns” (as I was once told I had) are all set for a trendy summer. And those of us who are pretty much flat back there, sorry; you are just out of luck. It’s Kim Kardashian’s world and we’re just livin’ in it!

Although I think it’s positive to celebrate women with curves, I have to ask, how can body parts go in and out of style? Does anyone else see something kind of wrong with that? I can see clothes, shoes and hair going out of style, but how can a butt go out of style? It’s attached to your body! It’s a part of you.

It’s taken me a long time to realize that no matter what size I am and how much I weigh, my butt is here to stay. And I really don’t appreciate someone telling me this part of my body is in style. Especially because they are going to tell me six months from now, that it’s now out of style. Well, what can I do about it? If it’s a piece of clothing, I can discard it. If it’s a pair of shoes, I can give them to Goodwill. If it’s a hair style, I can just let my hair grow out. But what am I supposed to do with a part of my body? I can’t diet and exercise it away (like I said before, even when I was a scrawny child I still had a booty).

Here is a little message I have for the media:

Dear Media,

It’s mad cool that you are trying to celebrate women with curves (something you should be doing on a regular basis). But to tell me that my big butt is in style for the summer is kind of annoying. My butt is not like a summer dress or a pair of gladiator sandals or a fedora hat that are all trendy for summer 2010 but may not be in summer 2011. If next summer comes around, I will simply get rid of these items, head on over to H&M and buy whatever is cute at the moment. But what am I supposed to do with my butt if it’s not trendy next summer? I can’t get rid of it (I’ve tried and it hasn’t worked because it’s a part of me). So when stating “what’s hot” and “what’s not” for the summer, please stick to inanimate objects.



So before you go out and buy your Booty Pop (no, I did not make that up)! Think about embracing the body you have.

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Something revolutionary happened on Monday. Starting at the beginning of next year, the popular German magazine Brigitte will no longer hire models to pose for their magazine. The magazine announced today that they will now feature “real” women in their magazine in an attempt to combat what they perceive as the unhealthy effects of ultra-thin models on women’s body image.

Andreas Lebert said the move is a response to readers increasingly saying that they are tired of seeing “protruding bones” from models who weigh far less than the average woman.

Brigitte plans to pay the women they will now feature in their magazine the same as they would professional models.

I think this could potentially be a very positive change for readers of this German magazine. Imagine a world in which every magazine on the stands featured “every day” women rather than models. That would completely change our world.

And U.S. magazines might also be showing a similar trend towards a preference for non-stick-thin models. Readers of the U.S magazine Glamour had an extremely positive response to a small photo of “plus size” model Lizzi Miller in this year’s September Issue. The nude photo of Lizzi elicited many positive responses from readers:

“Thank you for showing a picture of a BEAUTIFUL woman who has a stomach and thighs that look like mine! I have NEVER seen that in a magazine before.”

“Get this hot momma off of page 194 and put her on the cover!”

I too had a similar reaction when I saw the picture of Lizzi Miller. I thought “Hey! That’s what my body looks like! I can’t believe this is in a magazine!” Although I believe the magazine industry still has leaps and bounds to make in terms of actually representing all types of women within the pages of their publications, it does give me a glimmer of hope to know that many women really DO have positive responses to seeing a model in a magazine who is larger than the average-sized model.

After all, why is it, as Lizzi states, that in the world of fashion “any size over 6 is considered plus size?” Does that seem crazy to anyone else?

The reality is, most women, at least in the U.S. look more like Lizzi Miller than they do Jessica Simpson (who is the celebrity featured on the cover of Glamour’s September issue). So why not feature more women in magazines who look more like the average woman? Some women are very thin naturally and some women aren’t. So, if they want us to wear the clothes that are featured in fashion magazines, is it really so crazy to think that all types of women should be modeling the clothes that we are supposed to wear?

It’s encouraging to think that perhaps there is a trend towards something new in the world of magazines. I guess only time will tell.

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The other night I saw the documentary that is currently in theaters about the fashion magazine Vogue and it’s prominent Editor in Chief, Anna Wintour. I have to say that I really enjoyed the movie and found the subject matter fascinating. For those of you who don’t know, the character Miranda Priestly in the popular film The Devil Wears Prada is actually based on Vogue’s Anna Wintour.

Of course the models in the film were shockingly thin but it seems cliche to focus on that aspect of the film as there were more interesting aspects that I found. In a part of the film where the filmmakers interview Ms. Wintour’s daughter, who is an aspiring lawyer, she tells the filmmakers that she has no desire to be in fashion. Wintour’s daughter admits that those in the fashion industry take it a little too seriously. It reminded me of a line in The Devil Wears Prada where Anne Hathaway’s character, Andy, is describing what its like to work for a popular fashion magazine and says that they all walk around like they are “curing cancer or something.” I can’t help but agree with this perspective. It seems to me that the point of the fashion industry should be to help women determine what looks good on their body type as fashion trends change. But this does not seem to be the goal of Wintour and her disicples. They seem to want to create a fantasy world in which the average woman can only dream of being a participant.

My favorite “character” in the movie was a woman named Grace who began working at Vogue the same day as Ms. Wintour, roughly twenty years ago. Grace is the Creative Director with a far more human side than her counterparts at the famous fashion magazine. In one scene, Grace is doing a shoot in Paris and brings her model a box of raspberry fruit tarts (yummy)! The model reluctantly takes a bite and tells Grace that she really shouldn’t have brought the cakes because she won’t be able to fit in the corset! Grace responds with a smile and says, “it won’t make a difference!”

In another scene, Grace gets inspired during a photo shoot and decides to turn the camera on the filmmakers and asks the cameraman to be in a shot. During the photo selection process, Anna Wintour comes into the room, takes one look at the photo and says that some editing of the cameraman’s belly has to be done. She then tells the cameraman he needs to go to the gym, as she chuckles and touches her own flat (non-existent) stomach. Later, Grace finds out that Anna intends to have the photo edited and she insists that the photo remain unchanged. She says that not everyone is model-thin and the photo must maintain it’s authenticity. In the end, the photo stays the same and Grace is pleased.

All in all I thought the film was very well made and an interesting inside perspective of how the fashion industry works, as well as Ms. Wintour’s incredible influence on it. I must admit that it made me feel a little better to know that there is someone like Grace on the inside.

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Hi Cheeseburger Friends.

We just wanted to let you know, if you didn’t already, that there are two new interviews with Crystal Renn that you should definitely read. For those of you who don’t know, Renn is the highest paid plus-size model in the industry and has written a memoir entitled Hungry: A Young Model’s Story of Appetite, Ambition and the Ultimate Embrace of Curves. Jezebel’s interview can be found here. And the interview with Kate Harding can be found here.

Harding writes:

Today, Crystal Renn is the most successful plus-size model in America, not only showing off the latest from Lane Bryant but competing with “straight” models for coveted jobs she once believed she’d never get if she let a drop of oil pass her lips. Back around 165 pounds and wearing a Size 12, she has starred in an ad for Dolce & Gabbana, walked the runway for Jean Paul Gaultier, and finally achieved the very ambition she nearly died for: being photographed by Steven Meisel for Vogue. She recently posed nude for a forthcoming Glamour spread celebrating plus size models — who have become something to celebrate in large part because of Renn’s mainstream success, even if Lizzi Miller’s oddly captivating belly roll is currently taking all the credit.

Now that she has her curves and her personality back, Renn’s more in demand than she ever was as a thin model, when photographers found her listless and vacant. “The stereotype of models is that we’re brain-dead,” she writes, “but some of us are just starving.”

Both of these are great interviews, so check them out!

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Voguecover0601 Voguecover0003 Voguecover9711

2006                           2000                           1997

Voguecover9012 Voguecover7111 Voguecover4008

1990                           1971                       1940’s-1950’s

Voguecover4803 Voguecover3911 Voguecover2601

1940’s-1950’s                          1939                             1927

Images found here.

I was at a friend’s house flipping through the pages of one of her magazines as I was introduced to the new Gap Campaign (which is an entire post for later). As I looked at the different jeans they were offering I couldn’t help but feel a sense of frustration as I realized that all the jeans were modeled on girls of the same body type. As I began flipping through the pages I was bombarded with images of cute clothing placed on the same-looking body. Sure, these women had different skin tones, hair, and make-up but they had, essentially, the same body.

I did a bit more research and started looking at covers of the popular fashion magazine Vogue throughout the years. Ok, so it’s not really news that magazines are packed with images of super skinny girls–yes, I know, not big news. What alarmed me, however, was that even as early as the 1920’s the magazine covers displayed cartoons of such thin women. This means that we have been presented with only one body image for almost an entire century.  As I looked magazine covers over the decades I came to a conclusion: I AM SO OVER IT! I’m over the same body type; I’m over the emaciated arms, the rib cage showing, and, I am certainly over magazines trying to pass fashion on to everyday women when most women don’t even look like the ones in these magazines.

Ok, so maybe I am reaching if I wish for a day that Vogue does anything different from what they have been doing for the past century. But I would at least like to pick up a catalog or see an ad where they advertise clothes using real women. And I’m not talking about making distinctions between “plus size models” and “regular models”.  I’m talking about being able to open a magazine and see ALL different body types without having a distinction made between “plus” and “normal”. Why can’t magazines give women the option to see what clothing would look like on women who actually look like them? Would the fashion industry really crumble if we were shown women who look like us? Why do models have to be skinny? I mean really-why? Ok, it’s great that she has that body type, but what does that have to do with me? The designers want my money don’t they? So shouldn’t they cater to me and not some century old ideal?

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sag-awardsI was watching the SAG awards with a friend last night and after about a half an hour I turned to my friend and asked “Is it just me or are these actresses getting skinnier?!” I mean, actresses have always been small, but this is like a completely new kind of thin. I remember in the early 90’s when actresses actually got criticized if they didn’t have a little shape to them but now it’s like forget about it, the thinner the better. (Seriously…when did Claire Danes get this skinny)!?!?!?

Not to mention all of the inappropriate comments that were made throughout the night. One actor got up there and said something along the lines of “I don’t know who I want to jump more, Diane Lane or Tony Hopkins.” Then he went on to say how great Anthony Hopkins looked because he lost so much weight. Later that night, when Anthony Hopkins went on stage to present an award, I was convinced that he must be sick or something. Was I missing something?

The ultra-inappropriate comment of the evening came from another 30 Rock cast member who accepted an award for the entire cast.

“We’ve all been lucky enough to be a part of great ensembles on stage and on TV. And I was lucky enough to be a part of Ally McBeal for five years. But I can honestly say that this ensemble is a thousand times…heavier.

Jane Krakowski’s comment was no doubt a hurtful dig at the small size of Calista Flockhart!

Maybe I’m being over-dramatic, but I really see this as a problem. The shrinking figures of so many actresses show us that this is the new standard for many Hollywood actresses now. If they want to work, they have to be thin; shockingly thin. Weight is something that more and more people think they can joke around about in public places. And the ease at which some of those comments were made last night about other people was scary. I just don’t think that these things are okay in a world where more and more girls are obsessing over the size of their jeans and looking to Hollywood for cues on how to look. Will this ever end?

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One of my best friends is getting married and she recently pointed out to me that she and her fiance noticed how rail thin some of the girls who model wedding dresses are these days. She was particularly taken back with this designer and encouraged me to write about the intense pressure bride’s feel to stay super thin and to fit into their dress on the big day.

Many of you who are/were engaged mentioned during our Facebook threads that you receive a lot of weight-loss ads on your Facebook that are specifically geared toward brides. In fact, the pressure to be thin, lose weight and/or fit into your wedding dress is a real pressure many brides feel.

bridewars1I recently saw the new movie that’s in theaters right now, Bride Wars, and as you can probably imagine, there were many lines in the movie having to do with weight, weight loss and body image. In one scene, when the brides-to-be go wedding dress shopping, Kate Hudson’s character tries on a Vera Wang gown to which the sales woman warns her (I’m paraphrasing here) “You should watch any pre-wedding weight gain. You don’t alter Vera to fit you, you alter yourself to fit Vera.” Kate Hudson’s character assures her that she had nothing to worry about because she is focused, determined and in control.

Later, when the brides-to-be begin fighting and playing mean tricks on each other, Anne Hathaway’s character begins sending Kate Hudson treats in the form of cookies, candy, etc. which Kate Hudson assumes are from her fiance. She begins snacking on the treats and despite her crazy work out schedule (she even puts a treadmill in her office), she gains five pounds and totally freaks out about it. Because after all, you don’t alter Vera to fit you!

Sa mre ou moiI found this whole story line interesting as I recently watched the movie Monster-in-Law starring Jennifer Lopez whose character had a very different idea of how wedding dresses should be altered. In a scene when she meets her mother-in-law for lunch, she orders a cheeseburger (yay!) and fries for lunch to which her mother-in-law comments on how brave she must be, seeing that most brides are super concerned about fitting in to their wedding dress. And JLo’s response is perfect: “I’m going to alter the dress to fit my body, not the other way around!” A much better attitude!

I know I certainly felt a lot of pressure to be thin and fit into my dress when I was married two and a half years ago. When I went to get the dress altered, the man was very reluctant to bring it in anymore because he was afraid I was going to gain weight (much like the sales woman in Bride Wars). And much like Kate Hudson’s character, I assured him that I wasn’t planning on gaining any weight before my wedding and insisted he take the dress in like I had asked him to! (In retrospect, I probably would be reluctant to take the dress in too…it was a Size 4 for crying out loud…how much smaller was I going to get)?! I unfortunately, had not discovered cheeseburgers in those days and was a tad crazy (ok– a lot crazy)! I was incredibly concerned about my weight and making sure I didn’t look like a “fat” bride. With hundreds of eyes watching me walk down that aisle, I wanted to be noticeably thin and was willing to do almost anything to get there.

To top it all off, after writing this post, I was in a bookstore flipping through a bridal magazine in search of wedding shoes for my friend when I saw this article: “Slim Down For The Gown!”. The article detailed the top ten ways to lose weight in preparation for the big day.

So between the Facebooks ads, the super skinny bride models, exhaustive amounts of ads and magazine articles and personal pressures we feel in not wanting to be a “fat bride” and fit into our wedding dress, it’s pretty hard out there for a bride. So all of you brides…try and remember that’s it’s your day and you don’t have to fit into a Size 2 to be beautiful on your day! (Oh and you probably want to stay away from Vera dresses if your serious about body acceptance. 🙂

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Daisy Lowe

If you’ve been around EAC long enough you know that one of our main topics of discussion is the fashion industry’s idealized standards of beauty, especially as it relates to the Size 0 Ideal. But some suggest that this trend seems to be coming to an end. And even though the runway might always be filled with very thin women, the gaunt (and flat out scary look) that we have seen on the runway the past few years seem to be dissipating.

One writer, Kate Spicer, says:

“At last, slowly and from within, it seems fashion is falling back in love with the things that make women truly beautiful: confidence, sex appeal, health. They’re lauding the ample, sexy behind of Joan, Mad Men’s smoking-hot secretary, and beginning to reject the boniness of eastern European skinny-minnies. Could it be that, finally, we can put those two incendiary little words, “size” and “zero”, behind us, and that Lowe and her softly cut ilk are the poster girls for a new aesthetic of womanliness and personality that lies ahead? While catwalk girls will always be thin, there has been a bit more bounce lately in the bottoms and flesh on the bones that walk in London, Paris, New York and Milan.”

Using model Daisy Lowe (above) as an example, Spicer says that Lowe exudes sex appeal and confidence without being “model thin.”

Spicer adds:

“It’s been in the air for a while. The real titans, the ones who kept their lips buttoned when the size-zero debate raged, have also begun to speak out. Kate Moss was overheard saying how sexy Lowe and the shapely girls sporting hundred-quid frillies looked at the recent AP perfume launch. The super-stylist Katie Grand has talked of being tired of “the tedious stereotypes of what it is to be a wonderful 21st-century woman”. Even mean old Karl Lagerfeld, the wicked fairy godfather of the cruel world of fashion, sent some girls away from a recent show, a first, saying: “They looked as if they had grown up in a Third World country with no food to eat.”

Once again, this is not to assume that extremely thin women are all walking around starving themselves or that there is anything wrong with being very thin if that is your natural body make-up. But the idealization of extremely thin women (or any body type for that matter) in fashion and tabloid magazines is wrong. I would personally rather see all types of women represented on the runway, together. Rather than differentiating between “plus size” runway and “regular” runway, why not put all women together and call it runway? (See “Plus Size” and the Normalization of Thin).

I disagree with one of the comments left recently which suggested that people don’t want to see a 250-lb woman in a magazine because it wouldn’t sell. It’s really a matter of what comes first, the chicken or the egg? Who dictates what sells? The buyer who will stop buying if they are not given what they want (I am talking strictly media consumption here)? Or the people who set the trends in fashion magazines and dictate what’s “hot” and what’s not?

I personally believe that we are a product of our culture, and we will buy and consume what is put in front of us. Take Skinny Jeans for instance. When they first came out, I was like “What in the world?! I wore those when I was like 8 years old! No thanks.” I now own 5 pairs. Why? Because I eventually got bit by the Skinny Jean bug and I feel like my wardrobe wouldn’t be complete without them. My point is that, generally speaking, we buy what “they” tell us to buy. We may resist and criticize a change at first, but eventually, we get on board. And to suggest that “people wouldn’t want to see that” is not necessarily true.

This is not to say that we don’t have minds of our own, but there is a reason psychologists hold jobs at advertisement agencies, there is something very powerful about the power of suggestion. Trends come and go and whose to say that a trend in this area can’t change?

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I stopped reading fashion and tabloid magazines a long time ago. Mostly because I found that they made me feel worse about myself rather than better. I have spoken to many women whose experience is similar to mine. In fact, many studies have shown that women’s self-esteem goes down after reading fashion magazines. But what about men?

A recent article suggested that men suffer from body image issues after reading magazines just like women do. The study took a group of undergraduate males and had them look at magazines that featured highly sexualized women (i.e. Maxim). Interestingly enough, these men reported feeling more self-conscious after reading the magazines than before they picked them up. Why would this be?

“This was surprising because if you look at the cover of these magazines, they are mainly images of women,” Aubrey said. “We wondered why magazines that were dominated by sexual images of women were having an effect on men’s feelings about their own bodies.”

She reported that the main reason men feel self-conscious after reading a magazine filled with images of sexualized women is that they feel they have to live up to the same level of attractiveness in order to be worthy of the women they see in the magazines.

“Men make the inference that in order to be sexual and romantic with women of similar caliber that they see in Maxim magazine, they also need to be attractive,” said lead researcher Jennifer Aubrey of the Department of Communications at the University of Missouri, Columbia.”

This was very interesting to me because I have never really thought that men had it as bad as we women do when it comes to body image. And maybe on some level that’s true, but I think it’s probably more accurate to infer that we have our own sets of issues when it comes to being self-conscious about our looks; and often times, we don’t hear much from the male side of things.

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I was flipping through a flyer I received in the mail the other day for Halloween costumes and was honestly surprised when I came across pictures of “plus-size costumes.” Don’t get me wrong. I am all for costumes coming in all shapes and sizes (especially because traditionally they have been made for skinny girls who can fit into skimpy little outfits), but I think it is really weird that these women are considered “plus-size.” I can see why it is a justifiable label in high fashion runway modeling. After all, a size 12 IS plus-sized compared to a Size 0, but, in the scope of every day normal life, the women featured in this particular catalog look more like average size to me.

This gets into my whole problem with the plus-size label in general. I am thrilled that more and more designers are seeing it necessary to make cute clothes for women of all shapes and sizes, but calling a woman plus-size, a woman who is closer to what most women look like in this country, seems wrong to me. By calling an averaged-sized woman “plus-size,” we are directly normalizing thin as if it is what we should all look like. We are saying that being thinner is more socially acceptable and plus-size is more out of the norm. This is interesting to me. If the majority of women in this country look like these so called “plus-size” women featured in the catalog, then, in actuality, the plus-size woman is far more “normal” than she is abnormal, and the thinner-than-average-woman would actually be the one we would label.

Can you imagine, if you saw a magazine with a section for “bite-size” or “thinner-than-average” women? That would be crazy! So, why do we do it with “plus-size?” For those of you who follow this blog, you know that we don’t believe in labels, period. My discussion of “plus-size” is only to make the point that giving something a label like this isolates the women who fall under the plus-size category and further normalizes the idea that thin is the norm (when, in reality, it isn’t).

But nonetheless, labels seem to be very important to our society. We feel more comfortable when we can categorize people and put them in a box. That way, we can more easily target them to buy our endless diet, weight loss, exercise, etc. products. Don’t get me wrong, it’s even hard for me sometimes to not get caught up in labels. But, I remember the words of a close friend who said to me one time, “Why does it even matter? Seriously?!”

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