Tag Archives: ugly

Guest Contribution: Thin People are Part of the Body Image Conversation, Too

People like to make things into battles, with two opposing sides. You know, like in the Mommy Wars where breastfeeding is a battle cry and formula feeding is a ferocious counterattack. Oy vey.

hotter-than-this-meme01

Sometimes, in the world of conversations about body image, it seems like heavy women get pitted against thin women. There are a series of memes that have been endlessly cycling through Facebook with pictures of skinny, currently famous women alongside previous pinups with voluptuous breasts and hips. One caption reads “When did this … become hotter than THIS?” suggesting that our thin-obsessed culture has lost its way.

“EEWWW! She’s just skin and bones!” say the commenters. And then thin women get understandably pissed.

Let’s be real for a moment. The fat acceptance movement, though increasingly present and vocal, has a long way to go in terms of garnering mainstream support. We exist in a culture that fat-shames incessantly. No one is immune from it. We are told in millions of tiny and screamingly loud ways every day that fat is gross, horribly unhealthy, ugly, and unacceptable. Even thin girls and women often fight hard, and sometimes dangerously, to be thinner, because we have learned that thinner is always better.

I don’t think there’s a real contest here. Heavy women are discriminated against, treated cruelly, and made to feel terrible about themselves because of the way they look. Not true for thin women.

BUT.

When we talk about body image, thin women are a part of that conversation. They have to be. We ALL deal with beauty standards. We ALL face off against our own appearance expectations. And many of us, regardless of how much we weigh, think more than we’d like to admit about our weight.

And even more than this, people’s appearances don’t always tell the whole story. Actually, they rarely do. Some very thin women feel self-conscious about their bodies and wish that they were curvier. There are very heavy anorexics and very small binge eaters and people who feel completely great about the way they look even though no one else seems to think they look good. There are supermodels who feel ugly. It isn’t possible to look at someone and diagnose how they feel about their body. It’s unfair to assume that you know how they should feel.

I get heavily into debate on Facebook and Twitter about weight issues and sometimes women write to me to tell me that they agreed with everything I was saying about body image until they saw a picture of me. “You have no right to talk,” they inform me. “You’re too thin.”

I have apologized for my weight in these contexts, caught off guard and confused and upset about offending someone. But I have also struggled with my weight, harassed myself over it. I, like so many girls and women, have quietly believed in my own ugliness, and made a thousand shameful little promises that began with “I will stop eating all of the things that taste good.” Yeah. Because that usually works.

A very thin friend of mine was telling me the other day about how awkward her exchanges about weight with one of her closest friends are. “I am getting SO fat!” laments her heavier friend.

“You look amazing,” says my friend.

“Yeah, whatever,” her friend says dismissively. “YOU should talk. Look at how thin you are!”

But my friend battled an eating disorder for years. Sometimes she didn’t fight, actually. Eventually she did. Now she is working to eat more and healthily. She is working to gain weight. She is EXACTLY the person to talk, because her relationship with weight is complicated, painful, intense, and ongoing.

In fact, everyone who deals with body image issues has a right to talk about body image. Men, too, while we’re being inclusive here. We are all living and participating in a culture that has a lot to say about what is hot and what is not, and we’re affected by it. In different ways, certainly, but sometimes in ways that are more similar than we might imagine, when we come from such disparate backgrounds and have such varying appearances. They do not call South Africa the Rainbow Nation for nothing.

One of the great things about the internet and the communities it fosters is that there is plenty of room for passionate, involved subgroups. You can find support for whatever it is that you’re dealing with. You can have a space to talk about the pressure you feel to be thinner, even when you’re already thin. Even though you might not understand why you feel this way and are embarrassed and frustrated by it. And I think it’s really important to talk with other people who are dealing with the same issues you are. But I also think we need to come together to talk about beauty and body image in a larger context. And to do that, we need to stop excluding people.

We all own pieces of these struggles or realities, but no one group owns them in total.

And in my own little community where people are talking about body image, I’ve stopped apologizing for being thin. When people tell me I shouldn’t talk about body image because I “don’t weigh enough,” I respond that they’re missing the point.

hotterthanthis

I know, it’s not exactly revolutionary, but I really believe that until we can acknowledge the ways that beauty standards and expectations affect all of us, we can’t get a clear picture of what’s really going on in our culture. Until we can stop trying to tell other people’s stories for them, as in “she looks fine to me, I don’t know what she’s whining about,” or “she looks bad to me, I don’t know why she feels good about herself,” and until we can stop trying to claim body image issues exclusively and start admitting that they’re something too many of us already share, we can’t take the steps we need to give girls and women permission to feel good about how they look, right now, in their current bodies. And guess what? Those bodies look a lot of different ways. That’s the deal with bodies.

love Frustrated

This is an anonymous post submitted via one of our readers. If you wish to submit an authored our anonymous guest post please feel free to contact poutperfection@gmail.com or one of columnistas directly for more information.

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Filed under Beauty, Celebrities, Health, Weight

THE BLACK ISSUE : Pioneering Models of Colour

Hellooo Poutlings!

With living in South Africa, the racism card likes to be used often, because of our troubled past. Unfortunately, I do not believe this will ever go away, but what people do not realise is that it is not only South Africa that has overcome problems when it comes to racism.

Enter, the modeling industry. Diversity has never been the modeling industry’s strong card, as highlighted by Vogue Italia’s groundbreaking “Black Issue” from 2008. What was so groundbreaking was the fact that it happened at all – an international fashion magazine drawing attention to racism in its own industry.

With this in mind, I’d like to point out that before this publication, “The Black Issue“, there was a massive movement of women of colour fighting for their rights to be in the fashion industry, here are some of my favourites highlighting their stides on and off the runway.

PRINCESS ELIZABETH OF TORO – 1936

The daughter of the King of Toro, one of the four tribes that originally ruled Uganda, Elizabeth was the third black women to ever attend Cambridge University and Uganda’s first female lawyer. When England’s Princess Margaret invited her to model in a charity fashion show, Elizabeth’s modeling career took off and she graced the pages of Vogue and the cover of Harper’s Bazaar in 1969. She later moved to New York where she modeled for the legendary Irving Penn.

NAOMI SIMS – 1948 – 2009

Before there was Naomi, there was Naomi. The first black supermodel, Naomi Sims worked overtime to break into what is still a largely racist industry. Naomi officially made it when she appeared in a US national AT&T commercial, the cover of Ladies’ Home Journal and the cover of Life All in 1968.

IMAN – 1955

With her long, graceful neck and statuesque beauty, Iman looks like she was actually plucked out of a Somalian village and thrown on a runway, but in reality she was discovered by photographer Peter Beard while she was studying political science in Nairobi. Upon coming to New York in 1975, however, she happily played along with the myth that Beard had discovered her as “a teen tribeswomen tending 500 cattle and sheep in a Kenyan game preserve”. What followed is one of the greatest careers in modern fashion history : a muse for Yves Saint Laurent, Issey Miyake and Calvin Klein, an entrepreneur and the one women to tame David Bowie.

MOUNIA

Mounia was Yves Saint Laurent’s first black muse and his favourite model. She was also the first black model he used in his haute couture shows. Mounia rose to prominence following YSL’s classic Porgy & Bess show, which he designed around her and led to covers of WWD and French Elle.

DONYALE LUNA 1945 – 1979

Pegg Ann Freeman escaped the slums of Detroit, USA, for the glitz and glamour of NYC. Here as Donyale Luna, she was was exotic and intriguing whereas in Detroit she “wasn’t considered beautiful or anything.” At 6’1″ with her already striking features and ultramarine contacts, she was in high demand, becoming the first black women to cover British Vogue in 1996. Donyale lived like, partied like and dated rock stars only to eventually die like one when she overdosed in 1979.

BEVERLY JOHNSON 1952

Bev Johnson’s name will go down in history as the first black women on the cover of US Vogue in 1974, a watershed moment for models of all diversities. Bev logged over 500 covers in her career before embarking on a mildly successful acting career and starting her own line of wigs.

BILLIE BLAIR – 1946

A former nursing student from Michigan, Billie became “New York’s newest superstar model” and the “standard of female beauty” after setting Paris ablaze as one of the stars of the Battle of Versailles in 1973. She commanded $400 a day – years before Linda Evangelista wouldn’t get out of bed for less than $10,000 – though still making her one of the best paid runway models at the time.

GRACE JONES – 1948

Part supermodel, part mental patient, dart disco/New Wave/dancehall queen, Grace Jones is an enigma, wrapped in a question, wrapped in a kimono. Her distinctive style and personality are a constant source of inspiration for musicians like Rihanna and Lady Gaga to magazine editorials, who find her a favourite subject in particular… is it any wonder? That type of crazy comes along once in an androgynous moon.

PAT EVANS

Black, bald and beautiful. Pat shaved her head in the 60s as a protest against the modeling industry’s obsession with straight hair. The decision proved fortuitous for Pat, leading to appearances in Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar and perhaps, most famously, a quartlet of album covers for The Ohio Players. In 1974, Pat threw it all away when she published a scathing article in Essence magazine attacking the industry’s racism and its discrimination effectively ending her career.

PAT CLEVELAND

Pat was discovered in the subway in 1967 by fashion illustrator Antonio who admitted that he thought she was ugly, but with his help she became a dynmic and versatile force in print and on the runway. Along with Blair, Cleveland was one of the black models that entranced the French during the Battle of Versailles.

Like Sandylashxx has mentioned before, Black Most Definately is Beautiful.

*missfitz

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Filed under Celebrities, Fashion, Models

PFW: Jean Paul Gaultier – ’80s Gay Icons – Not as Fabulous As It Sounds…

Hiya Poutlings

There are not many words falling out of my gawping mouth as aI look again and again at the tribute to ’80s gay icons that was Jean Paul Gaultier‘s Spring 2013 runway show at Paris Fashion Week.

We all love some Madonna, Grace Jones and Boy George, but this is a cringe-worthy pop parade which did neither Jean Paul Gaultier nor the memories of these artists in their prime any justice, whatsoever.

Let the pictures do the talking with my running internal dialog of what I think:

Opening with Mork and Mindy V-tuxedo a la Grace Jones

 

 

On to more androgyny with a few Annie Lennox-es

Madonna look 1 – Blonde Ambition

Madonna look 2 – Like a Virgin

More Boy George circa Culture Club Karma Chameleon than is healthy for the senses

Michael Jackson-alikes. Dear God will it end. Philip Treacy wrung this one dry… and I have not yet blogged about, but I may do so… but Michael Jackon scares me.

oh look… a Jamie Foxx look-a-like…

Aaah, Sade.

Ziggy Bizarre-dust

The ugliest garment to ever walk a Paris runway, EVER.

and in true Jean Paul Gaultier style, he closed the runway with a bunch of late ’80s bondage house dancers – which in fairness should close everything ever.

one of the bondage house dancers who closed Jean Paul Gaultier’s show…

Jean Paul Gaultier got dealt a tough card with having to follow Phillip Treacy’s dramatic London show which featured Michael Jackson’s actual costumes, the show was only 2 weeks ago so that kinda leaves Jean Paul sitting in the dust behind Phillip Treacy. I may even have to blog about Phillip Treacy’s show, just to show you the awe of the garments he made, but the thoughts of looking at lots of Michael Jackson-likes scares me, he really does scare me.

As with Jean Paul Gaultier’s Amy Winehouse tribute last season, Jean Paul is on what seems to be an unstoppable attempt to bring back an irrelevant circus act.

What do you think of his collection? Did it hurt your eyes like it did mine??

**missfitz

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Filed under Celebrities, Clothing, Designers, Fashion, Fashion Week, Tributes, WTF