At a wedding reception a woman said, “I have a shape. It’s round.” And everyone laughed.
When I got home, I got to thinking about that comment and suddenly, it wasn’t funny, It was a sad commentary on how we view ourselves.
In the 1990s Calvin Klein added to women’s body shape paranoia by saying that women over size ten shouldn’t wear jeans.
What a terrible thing for women to hear such a tactless remark. Those who wanted the comfort and freedom of movement that jeans afforded them, were afraid to wear them in public for fear of being laughed at if they were larger than a size ten.
Society, and the movers and shakers of the fashion industry, have a lot to answer for. They have given women a distorted view of what their body should look like.
The Barbie doll’s message was that the ideal body shape is very large breasts, a tiny waist, a flat tummy, and long legs that go up to her armpits. Men fantasized about having Barbie doll bed partners and women developed eating disorders trying to acquire the lustworthy kind of shape that caused men to drool and fall at their feet.
One thing was clear. Even if a woman had a gorgeous body, didn’t have an ounce of fat, and was the perfect weight, most of those women still saw themselves as needing to lose five or ten pounds.
It’s embarrassing to have to admit that women used to allow men to dictate the current styles and colors worn each season. They did this by not manufacturing anything else or, if there were other styles and colors, they weren’t too exciting.
I remember when celery was the color the designers decided that women should wear that season. If they wanted to be in style, it meant that for that season, they wouldn’t wear any other color.
Most women didn’t have the kind of serious money it would take to replace everything in their wardrobe. Consequently, those women bought only one or two celery-colored outfits that season and wore them for major events. If they wanted to be in fashion every day, it would have meant throwing out all their clothing that wasn’t this sickening shade of green.
It’s amazing that the year that celery was the color in vogue, if they wanted to look fashionable, women allowed themselves to be dressed like something they would put in a salad. And of course, hats, gloves, and shoes were all dyed to match. Ugh!
Then, there were the mini dresses. During those years, the only dresses that were shown in stores were those that were several inches above the knee. Women in their sixties, seventies, and beyond, who didn’t want to look foolish wearing dresses that came up to their navel, stayed away from stores in droves.
But I think the worst thing to hit the market at that time was the one-size-fits-all pantyhose. It was an absolute affront to all body shapes.
Imagine, if you will, a woman who wears a size eighteen leaving half of her abdomen hanging over the waistband of her pantyhose and the other half of her abdomen meeting the bottom part of her crotch as she struggles to squeeze herself into this one-size-fits-all pantyhose.
Now imagine, if you will, a woman who wears a size four, shimmying effortlessly into this same one-size-fits-all pantyhose that has enough fabric left over to wrap around her tummy a couple of times. Later on, they made this one-size-fits-all pantyhose in different sizes that matched weight and height but they still proclaimed that it was a one-size-fits-all.
The worst part about this whole situation is that women, like lemmings, have always followed the fashion leaders into unflattering styles and colors each year, regardless of their body shape and coloring. They have allowed designers to define their perception of themselves. They have allowed themselves to acquire unhealthy eating habits, to develop eating disorders, and to accept someone else’s idea of what is beautiful.
Perhaps someday, women will be more self-confident and not allow other people to define their perception of beauty. Perhaps someday, women will be able to stand in front of a mirror and ask, “Mirror, mirror, on the wall. Who is the most beautiful woman of all?” and she will feel confident that she is the most beautiful woman of all.