It’s the oldest and most cliched theory in the fashion industry: that it intentionally tries to make women feel unattractive to create a sense of “need” for the product they say will make their customers beautiful.
With 7 million American women suffering from eating disorders (according to the South Carolina Department of Mental Health) the above strategy seems to be working. And that “confidence” factor, you know the thing that turns an outfit into a “look” becomes ever more illusive.
The first time shopping made me feel like an ogre was when a woman the size of Thumbelina had to scale a floor-to ceiling ladder in order to get jeans in my size at Abercrombie & Fitch. Years of self-loathing, crying in dressing rooms, and the unshakable conclusion that DreamWorks used me as the base for the ogre version of Fiona (they didn’t FYI) followed.
Then something magical happened- a trip to a flea market- where low and behold there were racks of dresses designed for girls with a figure just like mine- 10 in difference between hips and waist, 11 in difference between waist and bust- YES PLEASE! While my silhouette may not have been “en vogue” since marilyn took one too many pills- there was a whole era where women were desperately trying to look like I do naturally. In fact upon further inspection each standard silhouette, waif-like, tall and thin, curvy, amazonian, has had its hey-day for at least a decade during the 20th century. There is absolutely no reason anyone should feel unattractive, you just need to use the decade that celebrated you as a source of fashion inspiration and confidence!
There are of course some pitfalls to vintage shopping. The fit models (the women they used as their standard in measurements) were smaller than most women today, you don’t necessarily want to look “costumey” all the time (or so I’m told), and of course there is always the allure of current trends. Once you have a strong sense that you are in fact beautiful and desirable, and what silhouettes best flatter you, the rest sort-of irons itself out. You will find the balance between modern and costume and best of all you will find that you now manipulate trends into looking like they were created with you in mind. Best of all- when there is a trend that just absolutely, positively, won’t work with you no matter how much you try, it doesn’t take quite a bite out of you’re self esteem like it used to, in fact you’ll most likely find that frankly you just don’t give a damn.
this will be a 2 part post!!