Why the Fashion Industry is Dying—Laughing at Salad & Cleavage Snacks
Today we are going to talk about something a bit different, but maybe this might inspire your fiction, because if the world changes guarantee you a writer was behind it 😉 .
As I was perusing Facebook Friday evening, I came across an article that gave me an odd reaction. It made me want to stand and cheer, yet at the same time, rail at the heavens for the unfairness of it all. Tim Gunn from Project Runway leveled his crosshairs on the fashion industry. OMG I so love him for doing it, too.
A Plus-Sized Problem
According to Washington State University, there are over 100 million plus-sized women. The average woman now wears between a size 16 and a size 18 and yet plus sizes are almost never represented in fashion and if they are, the clothes are…ridiculous.
Most are passive-aggressive jabs at overweight women.
I am no longer a plus size, but I still recall the day I finally had to venture into the plus-sized section at a department store. I remember sinking into a corner and crying. I had always loved clothes but these weren’t clothes.
They were punishment.
In ways I still have this problem. The misogynist attitude of the fashion industry is all around. I am no longer plus size, but I am not a human stick either. I’m a healthy size 8-10-12-14-16.
Women will get that joke 😉 .
And I have…oh dear, this is so embarrassing. I actually have…I can’t believe I am admitting this. I have *whispers* …..boobs.
I KNOW! Right? Who would have thought that women actually come equipped with BOOBS?
And sorry, no, even Barbie would be crying these days because her shirts would runch up over her bust every time she moved her arms.
The fashion industry is not interested in Barbie. She still has girl parts…and cleavage snacks.
Even the mannequins can’t keep up.
The fashion industry is failing to appreciate that most of the women who need clothes actually have hit puberty. Many of us have even had children (sort of necessary for the continuing survival of the human race and all) and we have hips.
And I get well-meaning advice that I should ignore what is being elevated at “beautiful”, but the problem is that this distorted sense of what is “beautiful” affects what I am able to buy.
When I have a selection of 42 variations of skinny jeans and shirts that ride up over my bust-line? It makes it tough to buy clothes. Of course, then I catch $#!* for living in yoga pants but nothing frigging fits.
It’s yet another passive-aggressive jab at aging women.
Older women just let themselves go.
All my life I have struggled because I wasn’t “thin enough,” and now I am no longer “young enough.”
Oh dear GOD! The horror! Kristen please stop. First you tell us you are female and now you are getting old? We can’t take it!
I know. I am so sorry.
Where are the Women?
Why can’t I be in a fashion magazine too? A real fashion magazine just for ME and my grown-up gal pals?
A magazine that doesn’t have me standing with a frying pan grinning over “Skinny Fried Chicken?” Or laughing at salad. What the hell is so funny about SALAD?
Maybe a forty or fifty-something woman might have amazing legs and love shoes. We still love mascara and buy it. Some of us even look pretty good in it.
We love hair! Some of us a little too much. We are called Texans 😛 .
Do we all have to be fawning over laundry detergent or adult diapers? Or grinning at yogurt? No wonder women are terrified of getting older. We disappear! Why is it that the only over-60 woman featured on the cover of Vanity Fair in a bustier used to be a man? Why not a sexy cover with Jessica Lange? Why does Lange get a turtleneck (1996) and Jenner get a bustier (2015)?
I see all these magazines geared toward the thirty and younger crowd, but the industry is virtually silent when it comes to the largest population in the country.
The one that is AGING.
In fashion, it’s no challenge to design clothes that flatter a teenage underweight flat-chested giantess. There are no “obstacles” *wink, wink* to work around. No wrinkles or a wider middle from having children.
Is it because us older gals might actually pose a challenge? We might make them think creatively, beyond sticking a bird cage in an up-do or a lampshade on our a$$?
Same with the articles. Seems to me it is far simpler to advise a twenty-something who’s never been married about sex and dating, than a forty-five-year-old who is out-earning her male counterparts and has grandchildren and an elderly parent to take care of.
Dare we talk about the fifty-something woman who likes sexting her…husband?
Oh no, Kristen. You have just gone too far.
Yes, I Want to Be Like Barbie
The world is obsessed with giving young girls role models, which is awesome. They need dolls that aren’t all about fashion, that are astronauts and police officers and doctors. GREAT! They need different body types. The New York Times was all gaga over Mattel creating dolls of different shapes and sizes and heights and ethnicities.
Okay, fashion industry. Could you take a hint from a DOLL company? Yes, I want to be like Barbie. She is finally allowed to be short, tall, fluffy, skinny, busty, or even have glasses. Maybe one day she will even be allowed to grow old (Hey, I can dream, right?).
We don’t grow out of needing role models.
Would women be Botoxing and cutting on themselves until they resembled a missing cast member of The Muppets if they had a healthy selection of women who were aging well to model after?
Most of us have no frigging clue how we are supposed to look for our age. We are surrounded by teenagers or models Photoshopped to resemble wrinkle-free teenagers. We are sold anti-aging serums by models who aren’t old enough to be using the product.
Hollywood will keep casting Jason Statham as an action hero until they have to use CGI to conceal his walker and orthopedic shoes, but what about Lucy Lawless? Why do we have Rocky XVI but no remake of Xena?
You want to see BEAUTIFUL women of all ages? Check out my Pinterest board Old Women Dressing and Behaving Badly.
MORE is Less
Want a good laugh? Peruse the magazines that are supposed to be speaking to mature women. Initially I was excited about MORE Magazine, because it was supposed to fill that gap and give women over 30 their own fashion magazine.
Unfortunately, when I picked up a print copy (among their first), I was crushed to realize it was just a Good Housekeeping retread. Lots of pictures of gardens and decorating and food and the only articles with actual older models revolved around how we could look younger and thinner.
I’m not kidding. And it hasn’t changed.
Check out the on-line Beauty Section. All kinds of articles about how to braid hair! Aaaand it’s just a bunch of twenty-year-olds with braids. ALL the articles have young models…unless you count the article about how to reverse aging naturally.
Bite me, More Magazine. Just bite me. Because anyone old enough to buy a house no longer wears braids.
And O Magazine offers more of the same. Articles about all the best plastic surgery or how to dress around my “problem” of being too short or too busty.
Why is it MY problem and not the fashion industry’s problem?
Industry in Crisis
But then magazines complain, “No one is buying magazines anymore and the Internet and Pinterest and whine whine whine…” Retailers complain and are closing stores at a record pace (I.e. Macy’s).
Is it the economy? Or are department stores and malls now ghost towns because retailers have nothing to offer us. They are all clamoring for the attention of the group with the lowest disposable income who are on Instagram instead of at the mall?
Tim Gunn is baffled at why designers are ignoring plus-sized women, and a potential 20+ BILLION dollar industry, but I am even more perplexed why they are ignoring women over 40.
And for those of us over 40 who are plus-sized? We…are…doomed.
We older women (all sizes) need more than the three currently available looks: Tragic Pole Dancer, DMV Employee and Woman at Church Who Brings Casseroles.
But it IS Changing
Part of why I wrote this blog is I saw THIS over the weekend and I am now madly, deeply in love with H&M. I want to be HER when I grow up.
H&M is also featuring a 60 year old swimsuit model!!!! Because apparently someone has figured out that women over 30 still wear SWIMSUITS! I am hoping this marks a meaningful shift because aging is a gift denied to many. If we take care of ourselves, we will spend DECADES being considered “old” unless we change things.
I want to be in love with my older face and older body. I want to embrace the curves I earned with bringing a son into the world. Pregnancy didn’t “wreck my figure,” it evolved it.
I want to enjoy my laugh lines not be attacking them with needles and lasers. I want to be able to look up to more women like Gillean McLeod who show me I will one day still be beautiful, just a different kind of beautiful.
Above everything, I want little girls to grow up and one day have permission to be women & to love being WOMEN.
What are your thoughts? Do you feel invisible? Are you excited about what H&M is doing? Would you love a Xena remake with Lucy? Would you love more fashion models who were mature women? Do you struggle with cleavage snacks? Are they considered calorie-free?
Can you think of some stories or characters who give us grown-up women heroes? I miss Golden Girls, personally. Hey, erotica authors. Y’all could give new meaning to “Hot Flash” 😀 .
And I know they do this crap to the men, too just differently. But if it makes the guys feel better, check out this Japanese runway model who is ALMOST EIGHTY! Hubby was ecstatic.
I LOVE hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of SEPTEMBER, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
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