Despite knowing how bad they can be for me and my mental health, I am still a reader of fashion magazines. I am a bit of a consumer at heart. I get a little thrill when I open the pages and the amount of “WANT. NOW.” overwhelms my senses and I am enthralled.
What takes me out of my “Oooo shoes!” trance is reading icky body shaming comments disguised as “helpful advice” for the girls.
My own fault for expecting something different from a mainstream women’s fashion magazine, I’m sure, but I was still disappointed to read a column in the latest issue of Shop ‘Til You Drop (September 2010), especially after their recent body love issue.
A writer from Australian Harper’s Bazaar has been writing a regular column for Shop from the viewpoint of being a plus sized woman in the fashion industry. I expect working in the fashion industry, being surrounded day in and day out by fabulous clothes that largely exclude a plus size body would take a toll on a person’s viewpoint of themselves, no matter how confident they usually are. The comment made in the column (“No one looks good with cottage cheese thighs” [pg. 60]), made me sad.
Yeah, ok, it’s probably seen as a pretty innocuous comment. Innocent, even. But couched in the “just us girls” rhetoric and the attitude that whenever girls get together, all they do is gossip about the state of their bodies, what they ate, what they bought, who is a bitch, how hot that guy is, it seems problematic at the very least.
Not everyone is at the stage of loving their bodies. I don’t love my body 100% of the time, 24 hours a day. To expect people to do so would be unrealistic. Everyone has their moments.
But, I worry about the influence of these comments and columns in a mainstream fashion magazines on impressionable teenage girls (hell, impressionable women and people who identify as women). I worry that it convinces them that it’s expected of them to hate their bodies, that they’re expected to tear themselves apart.
I’ll admit that, for a moment, I focused on my cellulite, the dimples on my arse.
Until I shook myself out of it. Until I remembered that I like my thighs, my arse. I’m still not quite at the love stage yet, but I’m getting there. And I don’t care if “no one wants to see it”, I will be happy when I’m ok to see it.