At the age of 10, I was wearing Soffe shorts and Adidas slip-on sandals. The word “fashion” was reserved for the skinny girls on ads in alternate realities. Soon middle school and high school rolled around and I found myself wanting to look like those girls on the ads. I struggled with comparing myself to every other 16-year-old girl and every star on the cover of Teen Vogue. The same exact magazine my girlfriends and I would crowd around oohing and aahing. If you’re thinking that my anecdote could apply to half of the teenage girls in America, then you get my point. My story might as well be every little girl’s memory.
My generation has epitomized the fashion industry into an issue much like they do with any other controversial subjects. Fashion in the 1950s was Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, the classic, sleek look that every woman wanted. Fashion is a way to express one’s self but it’s also reflective of our society. This generation has taken something so classic and timeless and turned it into a revolution. Models are being scrutinized for being too fat, too skinny, too average. As a generation, we can’t quite figure out the exact size human being we want strutting in Chanel down the runway on the first day of New York Fashion Week. Isn’t fashion about the clothes, after all? Aren’t models playing the props in aid to the fashion just as a camera operator aids the camera in a film?
I guess that seems to be the big debacle lately. Athletic wear company LuluLemon learned about body shaming the hard way when they blamed problems with yoga pants on the size of women’s thighs. On the contrary, Calvin Klein recently published an underwear ad campaign featuring size 10 plus sized model Myla Dalbesio. It makes one wonder if these companies are truly attempting to change the world of fashion or if they’re trying to evolve with their relentless and passionate consumers.
Either way, I think as a generation of millennials, we are missing the point. We get upset over the size 2 models in Vogue and unapologetically create chaos until we see a girl with more realistic thighs and un-retouched butts. We want there to be jiggling and cellulite and imperfection because that is what we are as human beings. We are beyond imperfect. That is such a fair request to ask of the media and the fashion world.
But I don’t think this is fair to models of any size. By making a big deal about the size of the woman who wears the clothes that define fashion, we are obsessing. Many of us have become such a paradox in this fight for “equality.” We are obsessed with fairness whether it be regarding race, gender, size, sexual orientation or even education. This obsessiveness is degrading our culture, fashion and the women who walk down the runway. Essentially in this fight to love ourselves and our bodies, we are contradicting that by obsessing over someone else’s body. It’s okay that there is a model who is a size 2. She was either born that way or worked incredibly hard to earn that body. If that is what she cares about and what makes her passionate then so be it as long as she is healthy. If there is a model who is a size 12 and modeling makes her happy, then so be it.
Fashion is about the trends and the clothes the model’s wear. I find it invading that pop culture has forced us to be concerned with someone’s body whether she be too fat or too skinny. We are teaching little girls to love themselves but the only way we seem to achieve that is by worrying about the size of some woman’s skirt.
If we, as women, as human beings, could take a step back and realize that we all just want to be happy and that we all do that in vastly different ways, I think things would be different. I believe we all have good intentions but as a culture we are offended too easily. We all want equality and fairness but only when we decide to take a large step back to look at the bigger picture will we realize that this change comes with acceptance, not a revolution.