Every time I flip through the fashion section of a women's magazine, there are two words haunting me on the page: "ruler-shaped." Editors, designers and stylists may think that it's an easy way to call out what best fits my shape, however, I see it as another shameless version of skinny-shaming.
I don't need to be reminded that my naturally thin frame doesn't pour into a LBD as "perfectly" as a woman with an hour-glass figure. Or that I should be "grateful" that I don't struggle with finding a pair of jeans as much as someone with a pear shape. But in my opinion, all of these body type labels are absolutely ridiculous.
Why would I walk into a department store or log onto a clothing retailer's site and think, "Hmm, where is the ruler-shaped section? Because, girl, that's where I need to shop."
Comparing my body to an item on a school supply list belittles me as a woman and human being. And pushing myself and women of all sizes into unrealistic body type categories further perpetuates this warped standard of beauty that exists within the fashion world.
We're all sick and tired of seeing photos of rail-thin models, but we assign labels such a ruler-shaped without thinking how this may impact a woman's self-esteem, let alone spark confusion. Then we attempt to promote a positive body image by putting a curvy girl into the mix. What a way to add more pressure to being comfortable in one's skin.
"I feel pressure -- probably more from any place -- probably from the public and the media. I think that by placing a title on my head, which is "plus-size," and then the picture that these people have created in their mind about what plus-size actually is, I've basically failed you just with that."
It's as if we are subliminally being told that we should accept these body type labels because we are okay with them or incapable of communicating exactly how we see ourselves, especially when shopping. But a woman's shape can't be translated into an inanimate object or piece of fruit. Nor should it be defined by some mathematical or geometric figure.
If the fashion world (this editor included) is going to get real about women's bodies, the dialogue -- and the vocabulary -- needs to get real. It's time to have more honest and meaningful conversations on why body type labels may hurt and not help make sense of the latest trends. It's time we retire these degrading terms and toss out every fashion dictionary they are printed in. Who's with me?
How do you feel about body type labels in the fashion world? Tell us!
After the media focused on her <a href="http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-body/news/lady-gaga-shows-off-25-pound-weight-gain-in-tight-outfit-2012229">alleged weight gain</a> in September 2012, Gaga hit back at critics by baring her body in photographs, sharing her struggles with an eating disorder, and inviting her fans to join her in a <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/melaniehaiken/2012/09/26/lady-gaga-puts-bulimia-and-body-image-on-the-table-in-a-big-way/">"body revolution."</a>
Adele says she <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504803_162-57376080-10391709/adele-talks-about-her-body-image-and-weight/">tries not to worry</a> about her body image and doesn't want to be a "skinny minnie." "The first thing to do is be happy with yourself and appreciate your body -- only then should you try to change things about yourself."
The actress <a href="https://twitter.com/RebelWilson/status/253324823005118465">took to Twitter</a> to say, "I'm not trying to be hot. I'm just trying to be a good actress and entertain people."
After the March 2012 frenzy around Judd's "puffy face," the actress fought back in <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/04/09/ashley-judd-slaps-media-in-the-face-for-speculation-over-her-puffy-appearance.html">The Daily Beast</a>, calling the media out for making women's bodies "a source of speculation, ridicule, and invalidation, as if they belong to others."
Tate's <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/allison-tate/mom-pictures-with-kids_b_1926073.html">essay</a> about body image and motherhood not only broke the Internet; it has sparked a movement of "moms who stay in the picture."
On her informed, thoughtful blog <a href="http://www.the-beheld.com/">"The Beheld,"</a> Autumn writes about beauty, body image, appearance and her two -- that's right, <em>two </em>-- mirror fasts.
Gruys went on a year-long<a href="http://www.ayearwithoutmirrors.com/"> mirror fast</a> during which she did not study her reflection in mirrors or other reflective surfaces, or look at photographs of herself.
"I am always in support of someone who is willing and comfortable in their own skin enough to embrace it," the singer said in a<a href="http://www.ianslive.in/index.php?param=news/Aguilera_wants_to_empower_women-389922/ENTERTAINMENT/15"> recent interview</a>.
At the 2012 New Yorker Festival, the magazine's TV critic, Emily Nussbaum, asked Lena Dunham, producer, creator and star of the hit HBO show "Girls," why <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/08/lena-dunham-new-yorker-festival-emily-nussbaum_n_1948596.html?utm_hp_ref=women&ir=Women">Dunham is naked in so many scenes</a>. Dunham responded, "I realized that what was missing in movies for me was the presence of bodies I understood." She said she plans to live until she is 105 and show her thighs every day.
Chung <a href="http://fashionista.com/2012/10/alexa-chung-on-her-upcoming-line-and-struggling-with-body-image/2/">responded to critics</a> who suggested that her slight frame made her a bad role model for young women, saying: "Just because I exist in this shape doesn't mean that I'm, like, advocating it."
The NYU student started the amazing <a href="http://thebodyloveblog.tumblr.com/">Body Love Blog</a>, where she posted this picture of herself and wrote an <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stella-boonshoft/self-portrait-ask-me-why-_b_1987406.html" target="_hplink">open letter to those who feel entitled to shame others</a> for the size or look of their bodies.
This 5-foot-tall, 200-pound singer spoke openly about her weight to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/01/beth-ditto-talks-skinny-privilege-fiancee-body-image_n_2057290.html?utm_hp_ref=women&ir=Women">The Advocate</a>, saying, "I feel sorry ... for people who've had skinny privilege and then have it taken away from them. I have had a lifetime to adjust to seeing how people treat women who aren't their idea of beautiful and therefore aren't their idea of useful, and I had to find ways to become useful to myself."
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