Sunday, December 4, 2011

Hello! Real Woman Here!

Hello, Real Woman Here!
I recently had the lovely experience of shopping for an outfit for my husband’s company Christmas party. It was just oh so delightful. . . NOT!

First, let me say, I am over 40 and have borne three children, and am not exactly in shape. Unless you count round as a shape, in which case, I’m all set. I’m not obese, but I’m no super model , nor are the majority of women with whom I come into contact. In fact, if you look up the statistics (like I did) you’ll find:

Despite what the fashion industry thinks, the average clothing size in the United States is not a svelte 8 for women and a 40 regular for men. The average women's size is 14, the size at which "plus-sized" clothing begins. (Netscape Home and Living)

And...the fashion industry assumes these standard measurements for a woman: 35-inch bust, a 27-inch waist, and 37.5-inch hip. In the real world, women ages 36 to 45 actually average:
White: 41-34-43
Black: 43-37-46
Hispanic: 42.5-36-44
Asian: 41-35-43
(Netscape Home and Living)

Now, if that is the case, why did it take me 15 stores to find a top that didn’t either make me look like I was a sausage or a balloon? If it didn’t squeeze me at the waist and bust, it bloused out like a tent. Neither of which was attractive, let me assure you.

I wasted two days searching for an appropriate shirt before I finally found one at a Plus size store in the mall. (Torrid, and they were wonderful. I give them full props!) As I went from one store to another in a vain attempt to find something flattering, I got more and more frustrated. The clothes all seemed geared towards people who had no bust or hips or figure flaws to hide. I can understand marketing to the younger crowd, but I teach high school and I know the majority of my students aren’t stick skinny either.

So, if indeed the majority of women do not measure 35-27-37, why then do so many stores carry clothes that won’t fit an average size woman? I know the reason most designers use super skinny models is because the clothes hang better when you don’t have to worry about hips and breasts getting in the way of the drape, BUT THAT IS NOT REALITY. Where are the designers who use their creativity to design clothes for the average woman? Just because I don’t measure up to an unrealistic standard, does that mean I can’t wear fashionable clothes that make me look and feel attractive?

It is a constant irritation to me that the image of women we see on magazine covers and in movies has very little relation to the women we see around us every day. It is also extremely annoying to me that I buy into that image and fight a constant battle with my self-image and self-esteem. I’ve worked very hard with my daughters to define beauty as “healthy” not “thin” and hope they will listen to me instead of the constant media barrage that surrounds them on a regular basis.

So this holiday season, as you beat yourself up for having that cup of calorie laden egg nog or vow to lose weight for your New Year’s Resolution, consider instead finding a healthy balance and loving yourself just the way you are. It’s the best gift you can ever get.


Tielle St. Clare said...

Preach it, girl! I'm so with you on this. Great time to rethink "beauty."

Lynn LaFleur said...

Bravo, Arianna! I'm an average woman too (well, maybe a little bigger than average). I get disgusted at the magazines and catalogs that only portray thin models. Even most of the catalogs/stores that cater to plus-sized women use thin models. That's just wrong.


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N.J.Walters said...

Wonderful blog and great advice!

Ruby Storm said...

YAY!!! We're average and I LOVE that!