Have You Been Body-Shamed By The High Street?

Fashion, Uncategorized

Sifting through the racks in your favourite high street store, you feel that buzz of excitement at laying your hands on what appears to be the perfect garment. There’s an instant connection. It’s love at first sight. The elation, however, is short-lived – you get to the changing rooms only to discover that you can barely get the item over one limb. Yes, it is definitely your usual size, you’ve checked the label three times by this point. You wrestle with it for a bit before giving up, broken-hearted and half the woman you were when you walked in. I can assure you, you haven’t gained two stone over night, you are not fat, you are yet another shopper who has been body-shamed by the high street. It’s not you, it’s them.

As a human, who occasionally buys clothes, you’ll probably be familiar with the situation I am referring to and if you read the news or have a Facebook account, you’ll probably have heard of student, Ruth Clemens, who became a social media celebrity last week when her Facebook post to high street store H&M went viral. Ruth shared a photo of herself trying on a pair of supposedly size 16 jeans in the Manchester store, but despite only usually being a size 14, the photo clearly shows that the jeans barely make it over her hips. She posted the photo on the company’s Facebook page, alongside a strongly worded comment addressed to the store, bringing a number of issues to light, when she asks, “Am I too fat for your every day range?” and “Why are you making your jeans that are unrealistically small?”

http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/student-slams-hm-sizes-jeans-11477647

ruth-postJPG

 

Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated incident. It seems that being body-shamed by the high street is a regular occurrence for women everywhere, as Ruth’s post was met with messages of support from high-street shoppers across the globe.

Hollie Wilson replied saying, “I’ve had the same problem. I am a size 10 (sometimes a 12 on the bottom, usually in Topshop) and couldn’t get their size 10.”

Emma Hall wrote, “I’ve had the same trouble in H&M. I’m a size 14-16 and can never find anything that fits. Their size 16 is like a size 10!! X.”

While Louise Fairbrass hit the nail on the head, writing, “So glad it’s not just me. I don’t ever buy bottoms from H&M as they are TINY sizes!!!!! It’s quite disheartening to fail fitting into a pair of trousers 2 sizes above what you normally wear. Such a shame H&M because some of your clothes are really nice….. i guess you only want single figure sizes wearing them?!”

I can wholly relate to these frustrations, as I’m sure many can. This post went viral just as I had returned from my own shopping trip, on which I found myself on the verge of tears in the changing rooms of Topshop, when the struggle to get a tank top (in my usual size 10) over my head left me in a rather compromising position. I will also admit to owning a pair of size 10 H&M jeans, which only make it out of the wardrobe on very slim days.

While I understand that sizing can vary depending on style, fabric and cut – the very excuse that H&M offered in their half-hearted apology to Ruth – it seems that this is an ongoing issue with certain stores, making their clothes in unrealistically small sizes. As the average women’s dress size in the UK is a 14, a hell of a lot of women are being persecuted, however unintentional it may be.

What saddens me is that it seems a lot of us have readily accepted the fact that in some stores, such as H&M (although they’re not alone in this,) the sizes are renowned for being too small and simply choose not to shop there. While some may think that this loss of custom is the comeuppance the store deserves, what I can’t help thinking is, why should we accept this? We should be able to enjoy the pleasure that shopping and clothes can bring, in any store, confident that when we head into the changing rooms with that great pair of jeans the sizing will be accurate and realistic. We shouldn’t have to forgo our favourite stores because the sizes are so ridiculously small. The high street is supposed to be the go-to place for real women of real dress sizes, affordable and accessible to all – sort it out please.

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Fashion Mocking Mental Health, Now That’s Depressing

Fashion

Imagine my horror when, scrolling down my news feed yesterday, I came across a link to this petition:

https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/urban-outfitters-we-are-urging-you-to-halt-all-production-of-their-eat-less-and-depression-t-shirts-both-of-which-are-glamorizing-mental-illnesses-and-could-have-potentially-devastating-effects-on-your-young-target-audience

The petition is fairly self explanatory, to halt the production of these T-shirts from – what happens to be one of my favourite high street stores – Urban Outfitters. Although Urban Outfitters is famous for its novel, “edgy” brands and slogans, this back and white crop top emblazoned with the word “depression” is more than just a step too far. It is just not okay, and has quite rightly sparked great uproar, accusing them of mocking and glamourising mental illness.

This is not the first time Urban Outfitters has been involved in a scandal like this. In 2010 they sold a T-shirt with the words “Eat Less” in bold letters across the front. The best word I can find to describe the production of these T-shirts, repulsive.

It turns out, regarding the current issue, Depression is actually the name of the clothing brand that designed the T-shirt, however I still struggle to see the need for Urban Outfitters to sell this top in a society where one in four of us will suffer from some form of depression in the next year. Each designer to their own, but I can’t say I agree with mixing a serious mental illness with a lighthearted fashion brand. Fashion is supposed to be fun but not when it is making fun of an illness which destroys lives and especially not when it is at risk of glamourising that illness to young girls. As for the “Eat Less” conundrum, well, you don’t really need me to go into that one.

As someone who feels passionately about both mental illness and fashion (in very different ways, obviously,) I hate to see the two being entwined together in such a sinister and negative way. Fashion has endless potential to portray positivity, inspiration and creativity, I just can’t understand what would possess someone to design these clothes, let alone sell them and – heaven forbid – wear them.

So as it seems this is a recurring sales technique for Urban Outfitters, with various other clothing designs causing outrage over the last few years, it seems there is only one option. I must boycott Urban Outfitters. Just as we would any other brand or media form which shocked and disgusted us in this way. I can’t say I’m not disappointed, the idea is really quite depressing.

Don’t Wear Beige, It Might Kill You

Fashion, Opinion

Fashion has always interested and inspired me, regardless of what may be going on my life. Too many people look down on fashion as a subject, believing it to be a shallow, vain and self-obsessed industry. Unfortunately these things can be true, the fashion industry is a harsh, cut-throat world, where image appears to mean everything. Fashion itself, however, is so much more than that. It is much more than spending hours agonising over what to wear in the morning, what’s new in Topshop this week, or what Cara Delevingne is wearing today. Being stylish and enjoying fashion are also two very different things which are often confused with each other, however I believe they are two things which go hand in hand. If you don’t enjoy fashion, how can you be classed as stylish?

I was inspired to write this post after watching a fantastic documentary on Channel 4 recently, Fabulous Fashionistas. Those who watched the show will need no explanation, within minutes I was hooked, inspired and excited. The show followed four women with an average age of 80, who simply refused to grow old and disappear. Each of them had a fantastic wardrobe of clothes, gathered from charity shops, flea markets and life itself, but what shone through the clothes was their inspiringly influential attitudes. Though the aim of the program was to show viewers growing old could be an exciting adventure, for me, it represented perfectly, the importance of fashion and the effect it can have on your state of mind.

The phrase, ‘fashion is a freedom of expression’ is in my eyes, over used but here it is also necessary, as I can find no better way to describe what fashion is. It is freedom and expression. In a world where women have daily battles with their body image and pour over the features they hate, fashion gives us the power to like ourselves. It allows us to feel good in something, gives us confidence and even hide our so-called flaws. When it comes to choosing what to wear, we are given ultimate choice, and you change your mind you can reinvent yourself again and again. For years I opted out of buying items because I felt they weren’t ‘me’ or were too ‘loud’ – in other words, anything which would attract attention to me in the street was a no-go. Now though, I feel differently when buying clothes, perhaps it is down to my confidence growing, but if I see a pair of blue and green tartan trousers which I love, I think f**k it, I’m going to wear them, and this I have learnt, is how style blossoms.

Fashion is an opportunity for self expression, when it may feel like no one is listening, it is one of the most unique forms of creativity, without having to pick up a paintbrush. It can be a focus (as it has been for me) when other things in life aren’t going well. Fashion is one of the few aspects of life which we have total control over. Fashion is much more than materialism, it is attitude, confidence, power and freedom.

Here are some of my favourite items at the moment:

Screen Shot 2013-09-26 at 23.21.37

Checked Slacks, £14.99, H&M

Mesh panel jumpsuit, £38, Topshop

Mesh panel jumpsuit, £38, Topshop

Chelsea Boot, £45, Topshop

Chelsea Boot, £45, Topshop

Printed Kimono, £15, Primark, Gold necklace, £7.99, H&M, Cross belt, £5, Urban Outfitters

Printed Kimono, £15, Primark, Gold necklace, £7.99, H&M, Cross belt, £5, Urban Outfitters