Please watch this show
on lifetime. It airs every Tuesday night at 10 pm et/pt. I guarantee it will be a life-altering show for you.
I had an fascinating discussion with an older friend of mine, a woman who was once a flower child, and still is in many ways. She practices Riki, believes in the power of crystals for healing, past-life regression therapy, and is a very open-minded individual. She has a sense of style that I would love to imitate: Buddhist earth goddess. No matter what she wears, whether it be a flowing broom skirt and a hippie peasant blouse, she always manages to come off as classy and elegant.
We discussed our figures and how we feel about them. Both of us have distorted self-images, where we perceive our bodies as being less beautiful than they magnificently are. We touched upon something that both of us do. We compare our bodies to other women. If we step into a conference room full of women, we automatically zoom in on the one tall, skinny woman whose figure is not at all like our own. We set ourselves up for failure during this process as we wonder why can't I be like that? Instead of realistically finding a woman whose torso matches our own, we choose the one who's body and clothing are so far beyond our reach that all we can do is feel self-defeat. We're absorbed with searching for what we want instead of focusing on what we have.
I couldn't believe that she didn't see herself as the passionate, elegant, creative woman that I've always admired and respected. I was astounded that she didn't realize how beautiful she is. As these thoughts raced through my head, I became conscious that I was comparing my figure to hers.
I made a decision and shut down those preoccupations. Obsessing over my image wasn't going to do me any good. I also reassured her that she was, indeed, a beautiful woman.
Our conversation took another direction. We reminisced on our skinnier days, and surprisingly, both of us hated our bodies at our skinniest. We agreed that we looked ill, not healthy. At those times, though, we both had incredible self-esteem because we thought our figures were perfect. It took a photograph to change our minds, to force us to see how skinny we were. We analyzed our whole body then rather than bits and pieces as we did once we gained weight.
I threw out an idea about self-perception. Women are still struggling with this issue. Back in the Renaissance, women were voluptuous, Raphaelite. We've recently come out of the Victorian Era, where women were meant to be seen and not heard. Corsets, body shapers, girdles persisted as (sometimes extreme) beauty devices at the cost of breathing correctly. Then came the 60's. Off with girdles, corsets, bras! The Fashion industry changed. No longer did women wear body-shapers. Their bodies would be liberated!
The problem, however, lies within the fact that while our bodies and clothing may have transitioned to more comfortable days, our minds and societal expectations have not. Women don't know how to dress to their body types because they still believe that a woman's figure should be perfect. Hour-glass and boyish figures are considered ideal because they resemble what we would have with a girdle or a corset. Large breasts are valued, so women have gone to the riskier breast implants as well as surgery to make them perk up, an appearance that would have happened under a corset or girdle's restraint.
As a former flower-child, she never gave that a thought. But she likes the way I think.
Today, I had a delightful reunion with a friend of mine, whom I have not seen in over a year. We savored the robust, Italian cuisine of the Macaroni Grille, then opted to shop at this swanky, upscale cluster of "markets" on the hill. That is, if you consider Banana Republic, Eddie Bauer, and New York and Company "markets". Certainly, there were no vendors on the streets peddling their wares ("Get your downtown City trousers here!"). As I had only enough time to shop at one store, we chose New York and Company, as I have not yet explored the vast displays of modern fashion within its walls.
I found something amazing inside the store: sizes that actually fit my pear-shaped torso correctly! For those of you who are unaware, pear-shaped women tend to be fuller on the bottom than the top and have smaller breasts. Take, for instance, Jennifer Lopez. In other words, we develop fabulous booty over time.
Most spectacularly, New York and Company has something called the "High Rise" fit in pants. The waist on these pants sit above a woman's natural waist. No more showing off a feminine plumber's crack! New York and Company also has a pant in the Uptown Rise, which fits on the natural waist. Finally, a company that is listening to the complaints of working women everywhere. We cannot attend meetings, and look unprofessional in low rise attire.
The colors and textures of the fabric, of course, fit with the current trends. I saw hoardes of teal, mustard yellow, magenta, purple, red, as well as your basics gray, brown, and black.
I would classify the style as modern chic. Of course, glancing at the internet site
, you'd never know that the way some of the clothes hang off the models like plastic bags.
Even better yet, everything was on sale!
Today, I lamented over my shopping woes with my significant other. As a man, he benefits from a far less crushing shopping experience than I. As a man, he has the option of finding pants that fit on his waist, rather than the dreaded Low Rise.
I have yet to uncover a store in the quaint, suburbian town, where I live, that carries pants that fit on the waist. Once I have, I will achieve Nirvana and ascend to the highest plane of spiritual existence, where I will be freed from the cycle of frantically searching for trousers, jeans, and drawers of any kind.
Most significantly, he can pull any brand of pants out of the clothing rack in his size, buy them without trying them on, bring them home, and they fit. Why is it that he can savor such a pleasurable experience with pants while I, the female fashion consumer, range anywhere from a size 8 to a size 14, depending on the brand, should be going bald from pulling out my hair?
As I elaborated upon my shopping ordeal, he looked baffled as one would when a bit of information simply does not match their preconceived world-knowledge. Why, since he finds pants that fit every time, why, oh why can't I? Surely, I must be joking; locating pants that fit cannot possibly be as difficult as I'm describing! Worse yet, how can it be that I purchase the pants in a specific brand, never gain an ounce, only to find that same size and brand do not fit the next year? Oh, for Pete's sake!
Honey. Searching for the pants that fit is like unearthing the Ark of the Covenant.
He has agreed to accompany me upon my next shopping excursion to see the truth behind my words. He's an empathetic man. I have this feeling that he will never look upon women's fashion the same way again.
I meandered to Target today in anticipation of finding a wide belt that did not cost an arm and a leg. I have discovered that the wide belt is the modern version of the girdle. It sucks in your waist and brings the eyes up from your stomach towards your face. I like that wide belts create the illusion of a waist for women who don't have many curves or none at all.
You ladies know how it is. You walk into a store with the intention of buying only one thing. Something bright and shiny catches your eyes (oooh, tomato red purse) and you wander away from your designated area in search of the glimmering, magical mirage of fashion (or kitchenware) that has caught your attention. Alas, when you arrive, you discover that it does not appear as magnificent from a distance as it does when you're close enough to touch it, feel it, and hold it up to your face as you scrutinize it for any imperfections.
I was a victim of the "Fashion Mirage". While in Target, several articles of clothing caught my eyes, and most of them were Isaak Mizrahi designs. Immediately, as I coasted among the racks of clothes, I discovered the bane of my shopping experience in all of the pants, the fatal phrase: Low Rise.
Low rise, why must you forever torture me? Why must you taunt me with your on-the-hanger, unsuspecting, friendly appearance that suddenly turns into a raging, snarling beast that my hips scream to run away from? Low rise has been my enemy since the moment Brittany Spears made these butt-crack peeping pants popular. Women who've never had a plumber's crack before suddenly gained one. I don't want to see a man half-mooning me; why would I want to see a woman doing the same? Why do I want to moon myself in the dressing room mirror?
Low rise pants...die! Just die!
Isaak Mizrahi, he's a fashion designer, so of course he tailors his clothes to achieve the optimal artsy appearance by placing them on a size 0 model. Then all of these clothes are reproduced with no interest in how the cut looks on the average woman.
I think, perhaps, Fashion Designers should realize that when their clothes look awful on the average woman...THEIR clothes look awful. Not the woman. We are beautiful creatures of all shapes and sizes.
I also tried on the dreaded Swing Jacket. I've known, from the moment this trend re-appeared, that the Swing Jacket would look horrendous on me. I proved myself right. Once the Swing Jacket donned my shoulders, I looked like I was wearing a box with two torpedos aimed to fire when ready. The only way I can possible conceive of this style working is if I had a breast reduction. Even at a "B" cup, I could not handle the jacket. It chewed me up, spit me out, and I fled. For smaller, skinnier women, it gives them curves where they're straight as a stick of hay. Skinny women have their bodily flaws, too. For average women, the Swing Jacket does not work. Then why is this style being predominantly carried in stores?
Ladies, I invite you to check out local stores near you. Let me know if you've found any that do not carry the Swing Jacket.
After trying on thirteen different tops and five pairs of pants, I walked out of Target with only two new shirts. They were Merona brand, not Isaak, which certainly flatter my body far more favorably.
This is an all-too-familiar scenario for women across the world, especially in the United States. You walk into a store in hopes of finding clothing that fit you. You spend an hour, maybe two hours, trying on different clothing.
You go up a size in one brand. You go down a size in another brand.
You can't find anything that matches your style. All the clothes are catered to young women or women older than you. Maybe the style is too modest, or perhaps it's just too flashy.
All the pants are low-rise, hipsters, slim cut, wide leg, at the waist, or some other style that you look terrible in. You can't find one cut that fits your particular figure.
Your shirts, that were once a size medium, are now a large, despite that you haven't changed in your body shape or gained weight. There's a gap at the buttons where your bust is threatening to break free. Or maybe all the clothes hang on you like trash bags.
You leave the store with one, two purchases or none at all. When you arrive home, you're in a bad mood because "nothing seems to fit". You vow never to go shopping again. Even when you order clothes on-line, the experience leaves your reservoir of healthy body-image depleted.
Why do we allow this cycle to continue?
This community has been set up for women to discuss their common complaints against the fashion industry for their methods of controlling our appearance and self-esteem, to regain a positive self-image, and support companies that promote beauty of all shapes and sizes.
Eventually, my goal is to start a petition to send to major fashion industries for pants sizes. Why do we go by one number when men go by two for length and waist? Women should have three numbers for their pants: length, waist, and hips. The more women show their interest in this, the faster this petition will be accomplished. Wouldn't that be nice, to find pants that actually fit?
Come on, ladies! Let's get some dialogue going!