The topic of plus sized modeling does not come up as often in conversation amongst my friends nearly as much as I read about it, hear about it, and see it on the news. In fact, the topic never comes up at all. We don’t even talk about modeling much except for those few terrible, terrible weeks before and after the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, which isn’t a real fashion show (Coco Chanel is turning in her grave) and is more of a telecasted porno. The only difference between that and an X-rated flick is that teenage girls become anorexic rather than nauseas.
Glorified events like the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show bring Regina George-style attention to these models. Some of it’s negative, but more of it’s positive. The negative attention is along the likes of “they’re too skinny,” “they need to eat,” and “someone please give this girl some non non-fat fro-yo.” When stick-thin models are put to shame, the media begins to bow down to plus-sized models like they’re big because they ate a little piece of God while they were still in the womb. I’ve read countless online articles from major and reliable news sources that solely focus on praising size 12 models for being beautiful and doing their thing regardless of their size. Plus sized models are applauded for representing the average woman.
As someone who has been pretty average her whole life–I did away with any shot of having a Victoria’s Secret body by the first grade–I have no right to look down upon plus sized models. While it is important to stay healthy and fit, most runway models look seriously malnourished. I appreciate their dedication to things like kale and hunger strikes but I also think that it makes me feel bad about the way that I look.
I don’t know for sure how I feel about plus sized modeling versus skeleton modeling (seeing as either example will never in a million years indicate how certain clothing will actually look on my body). However, as always, I have a lot to say.
To, primarily, address the elephant in the room (no pun intended, but I’ll go with it), does plus sized modeling encourage an unhealthy lifestyle? Does it give out the message that it is “OK” to look like that? I don’t know the answer. I obviously am just asking rhetorical questions to add depth to the essay. But if I did know the answer, I would say it. I wish I did.
How rude would it be if we totally cut out plus sized modeling from the industry? It’s comparable to stopping the sale of plus sized clothing–everyone has a right to buy clothing their size (assuming there are some people that you just never want to see naked) so then everyone should have the right to see someone their size wearing clothing their size. Under that logic, I am a proponent of the plus.
The most interesting thing about this entire debate to me is this: is it bad that I’m even questioning this topic to begin with? Am I living proof of our warped society for questioning the legitimacy of plus sized models? Our country is at war. Half of the people are complaining about the need to make girls feel empowered about who they are, as they are, and the other half is trying to battle a growing childhood obesity problem one carb-cutting lunch law at a time.
But then again, I could have it all backwards. Is it possible?–could we all be so obsessed with curing modern America from its romance with thigh gaps that the passion for a little chunk here and there is too fervent? It’s like going along with a movement not because you’re so invested in what the movement believes, but because you’re so against whatever the opponent has to say. Some feminists out there decided to get as far away from supporting super-thin models as possible. So, now, they support super-fat ones. Why? Not because they like the larger models, but because they dislike the thinner ones.
Well, after an hour of writing and a whole adolescence of thinking, I’m going to make my own movement. It’s called The I-wish-no-one-cared-about-what-anyone-else-thought Movement. I wish I could say that maybe one day, that will actually exist. I wish that I knew what we were supposed to look like. But for now, it looks like we’re only moving further and further in the opposite direction–the direction in which, ironically, the fight for staying thin and the fight for being anti-thin both lie.
Overalls have been a really large part of my life since I was a lesbian-child infatuated with Mary Kate and Ashley. I think that they are really convenient because you don’t have to struggle with finding a matching top and bottom when you wake up crusty-eyed and retainer-clad at 6:30 a.m. Instead, your biggest struggle becomes “how the hell do I go to the bathroom in these” which doesn’t apply much to me and my camel-like bladder tendencies. Since I started my lemonade-cayenne pepper-maple syrup cleanse, however, these statistics have unfortunately changed. If you have a strong bladder, and are not currently on a liquid cleanse, go for the overalls. Trust me.
Once, I watched an episode of my fave TV show, My Strange Addiction, in which a transgender human has an obsession with acting, dressing, and appearing as if he/she is a baby. See photo below:
Then, recently, I realized that I actually seem to wear one-pieced clothing, overalls included, very often in public. See photos below:
After this epiphany, I got super concerned. I have to rely on pure faith that people don’t think I, too, am addicted to being an adult baby. I’m just addicted to being chic, and spending less time picking out real outfits in the morning.
And sure, maybe I am still a little lesbian for the Olsen twins, their frail bodies, and their oversized fur coats that each cost more than my four years of Ivy League education will. But everyone is, so it doesn’t really count.
The majority of my baby photos consist of me, either bald or afro-clad, wearing one of two articles of clothing: overalls, or a dress. As the first child born into my extended family, I was bound to be a really girly-girl or a really boy-y-boy because everyone wanted to buy me clothing in quantity for a small African nation and in quality for dressing Blue Ivy. I ended up being a really girly-girl. Yet, as I became old enough to speak and to have my own thoughts and opinions like “No, Mom, I do not think watching three hours of Britain’s Got Talent videos on YouTube is the best way to spend your Saturday” and “I really don’t like ‘said person’ because their head is obviously too big for their body,” I strayed away from the flaming betch I could have been and became somewhat of a nonchalant mixture of girly-girl and tomboy.
The one girly thing that has stayed with me throughout all of these years is the desire to wear dresses. You can take me to any store, and by any store I really mean Free People, and give me a rack of dresses and I promise I will spend minimum two hours trying them on and then twirling in the mirror, which actually happened pretty recently. And by recently I mean yesterday. At Free People.
A few months ago when I was still locked in my need-to-please conformity stage of fashion, which I have luckily surpassed and cured like an unfortunate case of pink eye that you get the day your boyfriend breaks up with you, I was speaking to a close male friend about the way certain girls dress. The conversation ensued as follows:
Him: I really don’t like the way ______ dresses. Sometimes, I’m just like “what is she wearing????”
Me: Yeah, I get what you mean. [This chick did not have an aptitude for style.]
Him: I just really don’t like it when girls wear dresses to class. I just don’t get it… I think it’s weird.
Me: [Having a silent panic attack and feeling the need to get primal with this kid to knock some sense into his poor soul. Did not have any tools to strangle him with at the moment. Would have to resort to bare hands. Not willing to resort to bare hands. Settling for a curt reply.] Um, OK.
Boys, what is it with you? Would you prefer that I wore an Adidas track suit every day and went all out Jane Lynch on your asses? If any girl is wearing a dress, not matter how well she works it, give her the credit for wearing one. It isn’t fun when your butt partially sticks to the seat of a public transportation vehicle or a park bench. We take one for the team, and when I say “for the team” I really mean to look pretty for you. Accept that, mofos.
I don’t know what it is about playing dress up that has always been such a staple in my life. I know girls that would go years without wearing a dress if they could, and they are even more feminine than I am. Dresses often are paired with funny situations and circumstances that are so typical and on the regular that I LOL just thinking about them.
The best example of this would be the first kinda nice day of the year. There is always that one spring day with a high of a whopping 63 degrees on which every girl decides that, BAM, summer has come and it’s time to dress practically naked. Every girl you see on that day will be wearing a dress. I promise. And you know I’m right.
My take on the situation: You only wear dresses on nice days??!! As if. Why do you think they invented tights? I get such a good laugh when literally every female I see is just not wearing pants. It’s such a classical phenomenon. If I was going to be a psych major, I would totally write a thesis on this.
My next example would be girls that claim they would never wear a dress and then secretly own a nice handful of moderately contemporary dresses that don’t make too much of a statement but definitely say “I’m wearing a dress.” Then, they post photos of themselves on Facebook of them wearing these dresses (these dresses are probably light blue–a nice, naval, classy shade) and then when you make a comment to them about how they were wearing a dress they take it really personally and act like they always wear dresses and it’s soooooo not a big deal that they wore a dress blah blah blah.
My take on it: It’s not a big deal. Don’t be so self-conscious, just accept the goddamn compliment and wear the dress again. Chances are, we liked it.
You know, I went through this really feminist period in fourth and fifth grade. Even through that phase I kept wearing dresses. These days, lesbians rock dresses. Moms rock dresses. Even men rock dresses. Next time you go shopping, buy a dress to wear on that first spring day of the season to be a classy biddie. I promise you, you won’t regret it.
If there was a TLC show about people that just hoarded clothing, I would probably be cast as the lead role. There would be at least a five-hour special that cut into Honey Boo-Boo’s airing time (hell yeah, bitch) on me, my clothes, and how my closet looks like a monster broke into the Free People store, was PMSing, ate everything in there, and then vomited it all back up.
When I was in eighth grade I wore royal blue tights with a salmon and mint-colored plaid skirt to school. And since no one ever said anything to me about this outfit, nor any of my others, I kept doing what I was doing. When I started high school, I felt the need to tone things down a bit. I still could not go more than five days straight without wearing a dress or a skirt and begged my mother to get me floral Doc Martens four years before they were cool. My style was my pride. I imagined that it always was and it always would be.
For some reason, however, I feel like I am slowly but surely losing it. My wardrobe is the same, but I physically and mentally cannot put together the same outfits that I used to. I recognize good taste in an issue of Vogue or while Facebook stalking my friend’s cousin’s campfriend’s homefriend’s sister’s friend. But I cannot seem to find it in myself. Sadly, over the last year I’ve come to realize that my sense in fashion has faded.
I cried over this matter while texting my boyfriend savagely at 2 a.m., expressing my woes and finding comfort in a jar of Kosher pickles. I was curious to figure it out. Why had I changed?
Why do any of us change if we like the way we are, for that matter? I was perfectly happy wearing adult-sized overalls and as much tulle as possible, all of the time. Maybe I had gotten lazy. I didn’t have time to dress well, and I didn’t feel like creating the energy to dress well. But I knew that wasn’t it. Then the scariest thought of all glazed my mind–conformity.
Conformity, especially at a young adult age, is one of the most overwhelming ideas we will ever encounter if we think about it too hard. You need to learn to be a trendsetter by standing out, but only when you’re confident others would be willing to follow. You need to not be too many steps ahead nor too many steps behind. Although change is a human tendency, it is difficult to do so because subconsciously, we have to make sure that we are changing not alone, but with everyone else. Typically, this answer would be satisfying to me. But in the case of Hannah And The Missing Fashion Taste, it wasn’t. It was like biting into a slutty brownie and realizing that damn, you didn’t get a piece of the oreo.
Did I change myself, or did society change me? Will we ever really know? Probably not. So I gave myself a few words of advice for… myself. Be calm. Be brave. Eat salad. And dress how you feel like it.
As I mentioned in my piece about the transition to and necessity of thongs, which you can read here, my mother has always had a keen eye for making me look like a cult-member from New Mexico. She was pretty happy when I came home from my eighth grade trip to Lancaster, PA toting an Amish bonnet. Thus, I have been born and bread into a double life–part of me criticizing college girls for showing off their beer bellies, which no one wants to see, and part of me loving the collarbone-flattering blouse I just bought or the ironic sheerness of an overpriced sweater. I have always wanted to rebel, but I have always kept hidden those motherly values that were instilled upon me. Needless to say, I have been torn quite a few times in the search for what fashion defines me.
In this never ending quest, I have grown to know the key components of sluttiness in clothing–the “effortless” slut look, the trashy slut look, etc. However, I am still trying to figure out one unsaid rule of fashion: less is more. Let me elaborate with a couple of examples:
The monokini is sluttier than the bikini.
The monokini, which made its grand debut four or five years ago, is basically a bikini with a landing strip in the middle, attaching the top and bottom pieces of the bathing suit. This “landing strip” optimizes and highlights the hourglass figure, yet hides belly buttons and the center of your six pack (or lack thereof). The monokini, which potentially began the cut-out craze (basically how every girl will only wear clothes that literally appear as if they have whole chunks missing from them), is looked upon as a bolder statement–a sexier move. I bought one for a recent vacation without my mother’s knowledge. Her reaction upon the first sight of it? Hannah, where the Hell did this come from? What is it??????
Wearing shorts with boots is sluttier than wearing shorts with sandals.
When I attempted to walk out of the house wearing a short dress with over-the-knee boots, my mom told me that I looked like a prostitute, Jesus Christ, and must go change immediately. Mommy dearest, I don’t understand… didn’t you want me to cover up?
How intriguing it is that the less leg we show off, the more men want us. The less belly we flaunt, the more attractive our bodies become. Maybe it’s because they like the images they have of us inside of their heads better than what they really see. Maybe they want more open back, less open boob, because it allows them to be enchanted by the wonders of a push-up bra and not realize that our “D’s” are actually B’s. Maybe it gives men more to tear off. It gives them the power to know that they are the reasons that women are naked, rather than women being naked because they offered their bodies–crop top, cleavage, bandage skirt, and all–to the highest bidder. I always wonder why in rated R movies, women are having sex with their bras on. The bra becomes an accessory–another ornament to don the body and make it look more beautiful.
I am seriously worried that one day, I’ll be naked and some guy will tell me to put my clothes back on. It’s not you, he’ll say, it’s me. And I will shake my head and wonder if Victoria’s Secret is in serious danger of going out of business. I will also wonder if my mom was actually pretty cool all along.
Throughout my experience as a normal female, I have seen many who know the “yes’s” and many who don’t to wearing proper, feminine underwear. In my eyes, there are only a few excuses as to why one would not wear a thong: she additionally uses her panties as a sanitary napkin, she cannot control her urine, and she does not know the lingerie aisle exists (even at K-Mart).
Sixth grade was also the year that my grandfather passed away. On his birthday in April we went to visit his grave, throwing ourselves a nice little picnic. I had decided to wear my brown leggings that day, of course, neglect of thong. I remember running around the graveyard with my little brothers and cousins. It looked just like a scene from The Sound of Music. My Julie Andrews moment was shattered when I noticed my mother staring at my ass in disgust. She called me over to tell me the most beautiful, ugly truth. “Hannah,” she said, “it’s time to get you a thong.”
This day was arguably one of the most significant in my life because I became a woman. Who knew that all it took was $20 at Target? I highly recommend the 5 for $25 deal at Victoria’s Secret as well.
Here is a checklist to help the average granny-panty wearer get started:
- Do you still have wedgies?
- Do you wonder why your Kim Kardashian-esque ass hasn’t been checked out?
- Is your favorite designer Fruit of the Loom?
- Does your aging mother still shop for your panties?
- Have you been single your entire life?
- When you put on leggings, do you find yourself asking, “why does it feel like I’m trying to stuff a Thanksgiving turkey?”