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  • body image

    body image

  • A

    On Body Image And Self Worth

    05.29.2013 / ARCHIVES

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    When Caitlin Mociun, cult-hit fashion designer, left the world of dress forms and measuring tape to focus on an accessories line, she said something that made me pause: “I never really liked doing my clothing line, and when I switched to jewelry it was such a different response. It seemed to make people feel good about themselves as opposed to clothing, which often makes people feel bad.”

    studio fludd jewelry

    And it’s true, isn’t it? How many times have we set out to find the perfect outfit for an interview or wedding or social event – only to be met by poorly-lit dressing rooms and three-way mirrors of doom? We squeeze and tug and pull, attempting to morph our body into a fictional casing that was never intended for us.

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    Does a butterfly curse its cocoon for not properly accenting its thighs? Do snails label their shells, secretly hoping they’ll grow to fill out a 32C? And do carnations shrink their bloom to appear slimmer – more desirable – than their garden counterparts?

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    I asked Jacqueline, a fashion historian, why clothing takes such a toll on our body image. Why our skin is expected to fit perfectly into standard sizes and shapes and limitations. And her response was eye-opening:

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    “Historically, women did not expect clothing from a rack to fit them perfectly,” she writes, noting that the majority of clothing was taken directly to tailors for a custom fit. “As our society moves more and more toward convenience and emphasizes fast fashion, we’ve eliminated the expectation that our clothing would be altered at the tailors. After all, that’s time consuming and expensive. Instead, we want clothing faster and faster for cheaper and cheaper. The result is that our clothing is expected to fit straight off the rack, but rarely does.”

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    And the byproduct? We take our body to the tailors instead. We diet and cleanse and juice and fast, choosing to consume fashion over nutrition and style over substance. And suddenly, the clothes do begin to fit “straight off the rack”. But there will always be a smaller size to wrap ourselves in. There will always be a rack to conquer.

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    Perhaps the key is in the reminder that clothing is meant to fit us, not the other way around. It is meant to protect us from our elements – to romp and play or disguise and reveal. To blend in and stand out, to ebb and flow. Because much like the person beneath the garment, there is no universal standard. We are different beings in different skin, where desire fits most and one size fits none.

    Image Credits: Studio Fludd / Caitlin Mociun Quote via Sight Unseen

    p.s. Redefining beauty.

    • AmyCat

      Having done a lot of historical reenactment, and thus studied the construction of clothing in pre-1650s Europe, it’s true: even the poorest peasant woman would have clothing made to her measure. Granted, in a culture where the poor were literally working “from Sheep to Coat” (shearing, carding, and spinning the wool, or harvesting, retting, and spinning the linen, then weaving the fabric from the fibers, then hand-sewing the garments), you might only get one new garment in a year. Your clothing FIT, and it was built to last. None of this “disposable”, comsumer culture bullsh!t, where it’s a toss-up whether your clothing’s going to fall apart or go out of style first!

      I have historically-based clothing I made which I’ve been wearing regularly for 15+ years. Last month I made myself a new undergown from what Fabric-Store.com calls a “heavy” linen, and I fully expect to still be using it 15 years from now. I’ve stopped buying any clothing that doesn’t look like it will last at least 3-5 years. If you don’t plan to change your style every season, it’s worth paying more for GOOD materials and careful construction.

      • I love this perspective, Amy – thank you for sharing!

    • Gorgeous prose. Thank you.

    • […] On Body Image & Self Worth – One of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read. Truly. Wonderful analogies and a modern take I’d never thought of before. {edited to add: fixed the link since it was broken at first. Also FYI, this was posted on my Facebook page and I post lots of other great quotes and articles there if you want to follow ;} […]

    • […] be hidden in a closet until Halloween.  Just tonight, upon reading this thoughtful blog post (http://www.designformankind.com/2013/05/on-body-image-and-self-worth/) I decided to search Ebay for a tutu.  A few mouse clicks and $8.00 later, I am now the proud new […]

    • I’m so thankful to my mother for speaking about models not being suited for me, not numbers.

      A size 583092 of jeans A looks bad on me?
      I shouldn’t try a 583093 or 583091, I should try jeans B. Or brand C.

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