7.16.2014

When Love Isn't Reciprocated


I've been somewhat quiet lately in Bloggerville....cyberspace...whatever you want to call it. I have been wrestling with something for days now. I have finally made the decision to rid myself of this ongoing presence by writing about it. The perfect way to get something off my chest. Earlier this week I posted a Berlin Fashion Week runway show onto the 40+ Fashion Bloggers Community on Google+. The share then sparked a conversation between myself and a fellow blogger, Charlotte Issyvoo of Sublime Mercies. The fashion show was the fall 2014/15 collection for the designer-Umasan. I shared the video as a pat-on-the-back to the designer for featuring older women as models. The fashion show will be at the end of this post. Here is the conversation:

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The Conversation
Charlotte: Nice racial and gender mix too. But skinny, of course

Me: Yep. Always skinny.

Charlotte: They always say that clothes simply look better on skinny women. I just don't agree. Where are the hips? Where's the waist? Where are the breasts? In short, where is the womanly woman? And, if your clothes truly look better on women so thin as to be unhealthy... change the clothes, not the woman!!!

Me:  That is only the opinion of the gate keepers of fashion. Really, no one else. It is easier for pattern makers and designers to cut clothing with virtually no shape rather than trying to form them to fit more precise measurements that must accommodate breast, hips, etc. So, they stick with the shapeless figure to sell the clothes to the industry. However, when items hit the stores, they have been made to fit multiple sizes.

Charlotte: True, but the designs aren't often made to accommodate curves. And, one quickly hits "plus size" when one is not very big, and has trouble finding clothes. It's a very messed up industry. I like what we style bloggers are doing: wresting control away from the industry and defining beauty in our own ways.

Me: Yes we are. It is refreshing
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After ending the online discussion, I didn't think too much about it again. But then late that night, as I lay awake in bed, the conversation crept into my mind again. If you'll notice, my initial response was to defend the fashion industry (see hi-lited area), but as time ticked away in my sleepless bed, I seriously wrestled with the whole age, size, race discrepancy issue. I found myself wondering about my beloved fashion industry...Why aren't more seasoned women represented? Why is size 00 the standard for the runway? Why isn't there more racial diversity featured in glossies and fashion shows? I know, I know...This conversation has been had before. So yes, I'm beating a dead horse.

As I woke the next morning, my angst pushed me to delve deeper into the entire issue of age, size and race. I logged onto several of the popular fashion portals, and sure enough, what was presented before me, time and time again, was the very same type of young woman. Somewhat of a cookie-cutter mold. It's not that I haven't noticed this separation from fashion and reality before. I have. But typically, as I scour the fashion news, I'm least likely to notice the models, so that I can zoom in on the fashions. Is having that "zoom in" ability a quality we should all have so that we don't find ourselves getting overly annoyed. Or, perhaps, what is being advertised is much more than just the clothing. What is being sold? What are they trying to tell us? Am I, someone who is African-American, has a 5'2" petite frame, and is 40-something not an acceptable form of what is fashionable, or yet desirable? Am I not loved by this industry?

As I type this message to you, I think about the 30 plus years I have spent in a passionate love affair with the fashion industry. I have monetarily supported, rallied and spoke highly of my great love without hesitation or reservation. But now, as I gaze at my own image in the mirror and reflect on this discussion,  I have to ask myself...Was my love affair one-sided? What do you do when love isn't reciprocated?

Friends, I would love to read your thoughts on this serious subject. Should we be overly judgmental of the fashion industry for not showing us love by representing what reality looks like? Or, should we embrace that "zoom in" ability so that we don't get our hearts broken{wink}


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39 comments:

  1. I struggle with this. The magazines/designers are lauded when they use models who don't fit the norm (some even proclaim a new day is dawning) and then it's back to the same old same.

    And it's not just the fashion industry, it's celebrity. The women are denigrated for being too thin and then plastered on the front page eating a hot dog if they gain weight....

    Leading characters on TV are almost always young, white, and thin. I've sent Hallmark numerous messages that say something like "People of color fall in love too", "Older folks like romance and mystery", "Love isn't just for the thin". It's everywhere....

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    1. I made the mistake of going to a resale clothing store in Los Angeles called It's A Wrap. They resale the garments that are worn on the Hollywood set. When I got in the store I realized I wasn't going to see my size because actresses are in the 00 category. Sadly, I don't think it will ever change. But thank heavens for bloggers who represent more than the gate keepers standard of beauty.
      Thank you Daenel for your great comment.

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  2. Wow this post really touched me . I love that there are fellow bloggers as well as myself that represent "real women " the majority of the population. I think that people have been brainwashed by prejudice in the media that you have to be size zero , blond and 20 years old to be considered excepted. I do think its getting a little better but we have a long way to go. Im far from a zero and honey I got hips for days but I am fashionable and there are many that would agree . We are hip to this hopefully the fashion elite will catch on eventually

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    1. Perhaps the "real woman" is what scares the gate keepers. Yes, there is a great deal of constant brainwashing. If that certain image is constantly put before us, then two things will happen...Either self pity will happen, or the masses will reject that image entirely.
      Thanks for chiming in Mary!

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  3. To he honest I just don't care how the fashion industry represents itself. It's fake, it's image, it's a mirage to get us to spend money. Plain and simple. I don't give it much value or consideration but rather focus on the beauty of what is real. I think there's definitely an art to what designers create and I respect it as a fellow artist. I'd rather focus on their work and not the insignificant backdrop.

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    1. Hi Joni and thank you for joining in!
      If only more women felt as you do. Unfortunately these images do cause the less secure woman to fall under despair. Like yourself, I have the ability to look past the facade and to the art. But yet and still, the discussion should be had.

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    2. I just wish we could not take it so seriously. Then it wouldn't have such power over us.

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    3. You are correct Joni. For the younger generation it is damaging. For our generation, it can be a source of discouragement.

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    4. Hi Glenda, I just followed you over from Imogen Lamport's blog - have really enjoyed reading this article. I feel the same as Joni on one hand - I find myself caring less and less about fashion and would probably get around in a boiler suit if it was "socially normative" - ie, drew no attention. But I think perhaps this is partly to do with the frustration of clothes shopping and also completely agree with Tiina L's comment below. Clothing in my price range, which is chain store, generally has a very strong "youth" orientation. I'm 38, I do not wear skinny jeans. There has been little else in the shops but skinny jeans for about three years now, just total domination of an essential-to-most-people item of clothing by one highly restrictive trend. I also have very curly hair and robust facial features, it might sound odd but I find most tops in my country are made from floppy, draping cotton spandex mixes. Nice for people with straight hair - the majority - but I need texture in my tops and it is very hard to find. Shopping is mostly a source of irritation to me these days! Sizing, also, is ridiculous and appears to have changed since most manufacturing went to China - not an anti-Chinese statement, this is just something I've noticed. I was an 8.5 shoe size ten years ago and now I'm an 11? Garments seem to have less room under the armpit, and smaller upper back spans as well. I'm a 10-12, but I have to buy 14 (UK sizing, not sure what the American equivalent is) minimum and usually leave a chain store with an extra-large cardigan in my bag? Extra-large? What the heck do women who are size 16s wear? So yes, it's complicated stuff.

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    5. It is very complicated. I have learned over the years to not pay much attention to sizing since it varies from store to store, manufacturer to manufacturer. And since that is the case. I don't pay much attention to what size I wear. I just buy what fits properly. In one store that can be a small, the next medium, etc, etc. But because I am very short, I have to have most of my pants altered to fit. Same for skirts. The length is usually the issue. One thing that I enjoy doing and perhaps this may be of help to your situation. I shop vintage, consignment, etc. I find that there are more options. I'm not a trend follower so I could care less what the magazines say is fashionable. My attitude is to buy what fits me and my lifestyle. That was I won't get caught-up in buying things that are suitable. There are more options, you just have to be willing to take the plunge and venture out beyond the typical shopping experience.
      Thank you for your comment and welcome to the So What to Twenty family :)

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    6. Thank you! In total agreement about secondhand clothing stores, of whatever variety, I love them.

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  4. The fashion industry merely reflects cultural norms of what is considered beautiful -- but not in the sense of distractingly beautiful, which would make one focus on the woman rather than the all-important clothes being presented. If there were really a demand for a variety of different models they would reflect that demand. There is slightly more of that now than in recent decades, so we do see more variety, but there is no denying that at the moment, it is distracting. People look at the models rather than the clothes. So the designers go back to using bland, nondescript, average, non-distracting models.

    I would like to see clothes on a variety of different shapes and sizes and colourings and ages to better see how things would look on women as opposed to slender boys and uncommonly tall pre-pubescent girls about to keel over from anorexia, but it would be prohibitively expensive -- at least until the demand becomes so high that their business is being threatened by the lack of variety. It isn't now, that is for sure. So for now I just have to try to guess how they might change the piece for someone with curves etc.

    Sarah

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    1. Sarah, thank you for your comment. But I wonder if the glossies and magazines are selling us their idea of physical beauty as well. If that's the case, they are definitely off track with what the world considers beautiful. They have been feeding us this idea for decades, or should I say brainwashing us with this idea, and it is unfortunate.

      I'm not sure what you mean by the demand for such clothes needing to increase. Most women in this world are a size 10 or 12, not 00.

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  5. It is NOT a trivial issue. What see see, everywhere, constantly, soon becomes the new "norm", and we start thinking that we should fit the norm. Also, "real" women are not represented in stores. I once wanted a designer jacket and the shop assistant told me they don't make it in such big sizes... I am size 14 (U.K, size 12 American), and I was ONE size bigger than the designer in question deemed acceptable...

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    1. Some designers, not all do have a greater range in sizes. The smart ones. What I have noticed is that the filthy rich clients of designers have the tendency to stay slimmer. I wonder if it's to fit into the expensive clotjing.

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  6. I think this is why I love reading blogs so much - I simply appreciate seeing real women wear fashion. I don't read Vogue and I honestly wouldn't be interested in going to fashion week - anywhere. It's just not based in reality, too thin models who are literally killing themselves so they can stay thin and work and clothing I cannot imagine wearing. I have to wait for someone more skilled in fashion than me to take the runway trends and interpret them for real life. It is ridiculous to think the average woman is "plus sized" because she isn't a size 00. It's unnatural and unhealthy.
    I was excited to hear that JCPenney was launching its use of new mannequins in all kinds of different sizes. I saw it on the Today Show this week and I was so happy! Finally!
    You've started a great conversation and I think most of the comments will be along these same lines. I'm pretty sure that most women feel the same way it's just unfortunate that designers are not on board with us.

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    1. Yes, it is unfortunate, and thank goodness that big retailers like Penney, is taking steps for change. I enjoy looking at the fashions. I always will, but like I stated, I take with me the ability to look past the models and to what story the designers are trying to tell through clothing. Because I know my body, I know what will work for me. I don't assume that designers will make all their clothing to accommodate my proportions.

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  7. Great post. But I'd like to add one other thing. I'm 69, had weight loss surgery and am losing weight. I'd dearly love to see some real older women of any ethnicity pictured in magazines or on the internet. The youth culture shows things that would make me feel foolish if I wore them. I get the idea of wearing things that are a little different so as not to be boring. I don't want to be boring either. But there is absolutely nothing out there for me. If anyone knows of such a site, please tell me.

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    1. There is a website called Advanced Style. Here is the link
      http://advancedstyle.blogspot.com

      The youth culture usually just shows what's trendy or current. More seasoned women have a greater ability to look at fashion as fashion. We are more interested in style. There is a huge difference between the two.

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  8. What do you do when love isn't reciprocated...you go start a new life somewhere else where love is reciprocated...that would be our blogs! I wish the print fashion industry would wake up to this, but as long has we have that diversity represented on the blogs, we don't need them to. I do believe some retailers are beginning to come around on all these issues...age, size, and racial diversity. Some understand that in order to survive, they must come around. But, they need to spend some time on our blogs understanding who we are. Women 40-70 are no longer frumps and do not want to look frumpy. Curvy women do not want to wear sacks. But, as long as the fashion retail industry shows progress I am happy. I would love to see more runway shows featuring models from all lifestyles..hopefully that is in the future. One thing is for sure, the fashion industry could learn a lot from bloggers and their readers! Good discussion, Glenda!

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    1. Believe it or not Pam, I do believe they are watching us. Slowly they have begun to recognize that bloggers are a force in the industry. That is why the doors are opening for us to report on fashion events. I still enjoy looking at the occasional glossy, however, I do have a tendency to simply watch the fashion shows and then translate what I've seen for my lifestyle. It can be done, but it takes skill.

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  9. Great post! I've always felt that my fashion love affair was one-sided. Fashion is such a weird industry. What other swathe of business keeps going year after year brushing off a huge portion of potential customers who are actually clamoring for their products? And why are we content to just nibble around the edges (a bag, a pair of shoes, the occasional tee)? That's why I find blogs and other online style communities so valuable.

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    1. I think the industry believes we are not interested in fashion. I do believe they are so out of touch with us that they believe we are set in our ways and aren't interested in new ideas. Boy are they incorrect with this assumption. I truly believe this is why we are ignored.

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  10. I love this post and agree with your concerns. Have you visited www.advancedstyle.blogspot.com? It's one of my favorite blogs because it showcases the essence of mature, well dressed women. I'm only 27, but I so appreciate the style of these ladies. I honestly draw style inspiration from them more than people my age.

    As far as the designers making clothes to fit thin runway models, I hear ya! I don't get it either because most of America is over a size 10-12 anyway. Smh...Nonetheless, great debate/discussion, Glenda.

    ~Whitney
    www.whitneynicjames.com

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    1. Hi Whitney! Yes I have seen Advanced Style. It is a great form! The idea of this discussion is to represent various types of women in glossies and the runway. Though Advanced Style is an excellent form, it is still separate from what the gate keepers of fashion are doing.

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  11. Thank you for this. I am in the retail industry, sales used to be management, and I see the influence on the selling floor. I love reading style/fashion blogs and the ones that get the most followers are the thin, blond women, in their 20's early 30's who wear very trendy, expensive clothing and they are great but I would love to see more Glendas represented beccause you are real. You have kids and you work and you don't have a bottomless budget.I wish I had enough guts to do a blog because I am a mom with tween girls and I get complimented on my outfit choices, when I make the effort.

    I look at MODE magazine, which is geared toward women who are 40+ and it is also unrealistic in how most women are. I can't afford to buy that great skirt for $450.00, I have 2 kids to pay for, who are involved in theater and dance and everything else. You know what I mean?
    Anyways keep up your amazing blogs!! And I will share away

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    1. Amy, thank you for this comment. I really appreciate your thoughtful words. Years ago I worked in retail management (in my 20s) and of course, back then, I didn't think much about the age, size, race thing. I have noticed that big retailers like Macy's, Bloomingdales, Dillards to have a variety of sizes represented. Isn't it strange how you can compare two women - one tall and thin and anglo, and the other petite, perhaps a size 8 to 12 and of a different race - Both women wearing the same outfit. If society were asked to point out which woman looked more stylish, the majority would say the first is more stylish. Why is this I wonder? I would offer that it is because of an ongoing brainwashing to the idea of what is beautiful. It is extremely sad and contributes to many problems that this world has.

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  12. Well said Glenda. The fashion industry, in my opinion, is just like television and movies that generally features women who are , young, thin, and white. Our society has grown to accept those 3 things as beautiful because that is generally what we see on a daily basis. It will take more images of women of all shapes, color, and sizes to change our perception. I believe it will happen, it will just take time. Love this post lady! Have an awesome day!
    http://www.robincharmagne.com/blog

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    1. You are optimistic Robin. I hope that it will change. It will certainly be a long time coming. That's for sure.

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  13. I don't think I care so much about how the fashion world represents women so long as what shows up in the stores offers something for women of all shapes and sizes. I am not impressed by designers who can't or won't make things for anyone other than a thin, straight up and down shape and quite often I look at fashion images and think, okay that looks really awfully but we are being told it's nice and good, what a crock of lies! We are sold the idea that the tall, young, skinny, white women are the epitome of sexy or elegance and yet if you really look at them they aren't. Often if you really look you see someone who looks about 16, has an awkward and gawky body and big feet wearing clothing or in fact drowning in clothing.
    Not everything that is sold will suit my body or my taste but when I go shopping for clothes I don't feel as though everything is made for tall skinny women. IN fact many things I pass on would suit shorter women better. However, I don't buy particularly fashionable clothing anyhow.

    For me the betrayal comes more in the photoshopped images, the flawless skin and recreated shapes that just aren't real. I know they aren't, but I still fee frustrated seeing them.

    Thanks for writing about this topic, Glenda. It's always worth discussing.
    xoxo

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    1. Thank you Shawna for chiming in.You have that zoom in ability that I mentioned. It is good to have this. It keeps you focused.

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  14. Duh! I just wrote a book and deleted it myself by hitting the wrong button and all went blank. Dang! Will have to do this another time, sorry Glenda but I have to dash now. Anyway just let me say my opinion about the whole thing is totally different, though.
    hugs
    Lenya
    FashionDreams&Lifestyle

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  15. The fashion industry has been molded and "shaped" (pun-intended) by consumers. We created this monster, and we can alter it if enough of us choose to. The problem is we're all being sold the Big Dream. The size 0, ideally-proportioned, flawlessly coiffed and radiantly-skinned scam. Yes, it's true designers want coat-hangers for models (I'm not assuming. My well-known designer friend told me). But we put up with it and punish ourselves for our imperfections instead of steering them towards successfully styling our flawed figures with the power of our money. If women like you and me and Charlotte continue living our visibly fashionable lives in our imperfect bodies we may just be able to rally the troops and effect some widespread, lasting changes in couture.
    I'm ready. ;-)

    Alicia
    spashionista.com

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    1. But did you catch yourself, Alicia? You stated what they want you to believe... the models are perfect and reality is not. I beg to differ. In my culture, the skinny body is nowhere near perfect my friend. I'm not buying it.

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    2. You're right, Glenda! Not only in your culture, but also in mine (I'm half-Cuban). I should have put quotation marks around the word "flawed" or perhaps replaced it with diverse. The point is there should be couture for ALL of us!

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  16. I'm so glad our online conversation sparked this post. I think I may end up writing a post in response because I have so much to say on the topic. I've been looking at wedding dresses lately. I'm 43, short, Jewish (frizzy haired), disabled, a size 14, and a first time bride. The fashion industry doesn't seem to think of people like me when designing wedding dresses, let alone when they hire 18 year old, tall, skinny, blond, white chicks to model those gowns. Soooo.... I thought I'd use a post about that experience as a reply to your post. Let's see if I manage it.

    http://www.sublimemercies.com/

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    1. What I have learned is that a good tailor is good to have on rolodex. For special occasions like a wedding, the best option is to have your dress made specifically for you. I did.

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  17. I work in advertising. Same thing. Both industries do not revolutionize, they follow the main stream.
    And we do it ourselves... we like beauty, we prefer a photo with a pretty, sharp picture, and no garbage lying around. We prefer smooth to wrinkled. We prefer beauty. Think of a magazine with fashionable clothes on old AND ugly women. Do you think it would sell? I don't. And if you say: you can show it on old but beautiful women, aren't you discriminating ugly woman then, aren't you slightly moving back on the scale to where we are now? And I do not go into the subject what is beautiful and what is ugly. I also don't think that our perception of beauty is the industry's fault. It is within us. It might slightly vary through the ages, but beauty with the Egyptians (BC) wasn't that different.
    Which is why bloggers like us are popular. You finally see something more like yourself. But we don't really sell anything (most of us don't). And even we try to make the pictures as beautiful as possible.
    Greetje

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    1. I am thankful for the progress in technology because it did open the doors for us to view other images of beauty besides that which is shoveled down our throats day after day. Thank you for your input, Greetje. Yes, I understand that items need to sell, however, I, like many, have grown tired of seeing the same type of woman...over and over again.

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Thank you for taking the time to comment, it really means a great deal for me to connect with my So What to Twenty friends. I hope you subscribed via email or by social media - I wouldn't want you to miss anything on our True Style journey. Stay True, Glenda