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.

Are Shop Mannequins Glamourising Eating Disorders?

Fashion

KAREN MILLENKAREN MILLEN 2

It’s not the first time a fashion retailer has sparked controversy, and it certainly won’t be the last. Karen Millen is the latest high street brand to hit the headlines for using, what can only be described as, dangerous mannequins to display one of its new season dresses. If you haven’t already seen the photo which swept across Twitter last week, the mannequin – which is reportedly an industry standard size 10 – quite clearly shows protruding collar bones and very visible ribs. Much like the model who wears the dress on the Karen Millen website, funnily enough.

Of course the image has sparked outrage from many Twitter users, including mental health campaigner Laur Evans, who was first to spot the mannequin in the West Quay store in Southampton and brought it to the unforgivable attention of social media.
However on the flip side, I have seen some responses from people questioning why this is even an issue. Having visible collar bones is not uncommon if you’re a slim size 10, and besides, doesn’t everyone knows that mannequins aren’t a realistic representation of women?

There are two things that bother me about instances such as this when they crop up on our Twitter feeds every too often. Firstly, is the fact that shop mannequins do not normally have bones on show – if they did we wouldn’t be shocked when confronted with it – but lets not even go there. This mannequin would have to be specially made, meaning the company has made a conscious decision to portray this. I can only speculate on the reasons behind this, does it make the dress look more appealing? Does it encourage more people to buy it?
I can’t answer these questions for sure, but say both answers are yes, it is ignorant and irresponsible that a respected brand would resort to these measures in the marketing of a dress, particularly given the much increased awareness of eating disorders triggered by the fashion industry.

Which leads me nicely on to my second point. The mannequin is extremely triggering. Collarbones and ribs are a core theme of the “thinspiration” sites that plague the internet and ruin lives, yet here it is so blatantly and unashamedly on display in a high street store. It is also not just in terms of eating disorders that this mannequin is damaging, it is aesthetics such as this which fuel the negative body image that dominates our culture. Sure, we may know deep down that mannequins aren’t what real women are supposed to look like but imagery like this affects people and ends in many women feeling insecure and inferior.

As a brand who describe themselves as ‘for the confident, uncompromising woman of today,’ Karen Millen really do have some explaining to do.
This mannequin is not about celebrating different body shapes, it is simply using bones to sell clothes.

The Weight of Living

Fashion, Food, News

1391157919_cheryl-cole-weight-loss-scales-superdrug-girls-aloud-twitter

In a country where obesity rates are soaring, but at the same time roughly 1.6 million people are suffering from eating disorders, there is no doubt something needs to be done to help people’s health, the solution? Stepping on the scales to see which celebrity you are weighing in at.

According to Superdrug, one of the best ways to help people be more open about discussing their health needs, is the introduction of weighing scales which don’t tell you the figure you weigh, instead, they replace the numbers with the names of various celebrities and compare you to these famous faces, in front of your very eyes. As if our own mind isn’t good enough at comparing us to every other woman encountered, these scales will instantly compare you to some of the most celebrated women on the earth.

It’s a joke you must be thinking, and you’d be right to. If it wasn’t such a serious issue the whole thing would be laughable. Superdrug have since released a statement saying they wont be trailing the scales in their stores after (unsurprisingly) receiving a great deal of public backlash, but what concerns me is how Superdrug thought this was a good idea in the first place. In fact no, scrap the ‘good,’ how did they even think this was an idea?

It is widely known that the celebrity culture of society today has an immensely negative effect on women and young girls when it comes to self esteem and body confidence. This product is exhibiting the very worst of this culture, if I was to create a product that depicted everything that is wrong with the media culture we have today, this would be it.

The celebrities used on the scales, including, Cheryl Cole, Ellie Goudling, Adele, Gemma Collins and even Kate Middleton – even royalty can’t escape the wrath of the bathroom scales – have obviously not given Superdrug permission to involve them in such a monstrosity. Therefore, their weights are more than likely to be presumed, though this is besides the point, as our weight fluctuates anyway and actually tells us very little about how healthy we are since it is made up of muscle mass and fluid as well as a proportion of fat.

Cheryl Cole tweeted a genuinely shocked response when she saw an article about the scales, posting “..Pls do not include me in your scales. Girls should be worried about the number on their exam page not a weight scale ffs.” True as this may be Cheryl, it couldn’t be further from reality, especially when this is one of our leading high street brand’s idea of a solution.

'Jimmy P. (Psychotherapy Of A Plains Indian)' Premiere - The 66th Annual Cannes Film Festival

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.

‘It’s Okay to be Overweight’ – Say Size 16 Mannequins

Fashion, Opinion

As fashion department store Debenhams take the bold and brave step of introducing size 16 mannequins to their high street stores, I’m wondering if this is a step too far? Don’t get me wrong, it is definitely a positive sign that fashion retailers are starting to acknowledge the unhealthy body image issues that surround their models and campaigns, I just fear that this is the right move but in the wrong place.

It is quite a remarkable move for Debenhams to make, although they must believe there is a profit to be made from these, equally unrealistic, overweight mannequins. Size 16 might be the average women’s size in Britain, but generally speaking, size 16 is not a healthy size to be. Britain is not a healthy nation. I’m not discriminating against those who are naturally a size 16 and for whom this is a healthy weight to be, I’m talking about the majority of those size 16’s who are so because they lead an unhealthy lifestyle, of eating too much and not exercising enough.

I don’t believe shops should be promoting the message that it is okay to be overweight, it is not, and the government spends millions of pounds telling us this. This isn’t because the media says a size 16 is fat and only size zero is beautiful. It’s not okay to be overweight because its dangerous for our health. This is mind, I can’t help but wonder why Jo Swinson has decided to undo some of those millions by reassuring and encouraging people that – to put it bluntly – it’s okay to be fat.

It is the attitudes of the media, and women themselves that need to change, not the size of the shop mannequins. Of course the mannequins are not a realistic model of the average size 16 woman, with flat stomachs  and legs slimmer than my own ‘size 10’ legs, but that is because they are just that, mannequins. Dolls. Not real. Therefore, I am doubtful about how they are going to make real women feel better about their bodies. This change needs to be applied to the real women who front the fashion industry, then maybe we will get somewhere in the battle for better body image.

 

Copyright of itv.com

Copyright of itv.com

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