The Daily Mail has angered me again today. I should probably stop reading it. In amongst the articles about how terrible teachers are and how the world is going down the drain is a piece about Jennifer Hudson, insulting her outfit choice. She dared to wear something comfortable on a plane.
They had this lovely comment to make – ‘yesterday Jennifer Hudson made the mistake of thinking she can wear absolutely anything now she has slimmed down, and stepped out wearing an entirely unflattering outfit as she left Washington.’
I have a comment for The Daily Mail – fuck off, you misogynistic, patriarchal wankers. I am absolutely fed up with the way they have articles every single day pulling female bodies apart. celebrities who lose their baby weight too fast are bad for obviously ignoring their child whilst they are doing sit ups in the gym, but women who don’t are lazy. They have something to say about our hair, our wardrobes, our breasts, our legs, everything. Today they have articles about how to look ‘party perfect’ (because obviously there is only one look we should all be emulating), an article about miracle creams, about frocks that flatter every figure, something about Katy Perry’s curves, a piece about Erika Eleniak ‘dreaming of her Baywatch days’ because she dared step outside without a full face of make up, Kim Kardashian in her underwear is ‘stunning,’ Katherine McPhee is ‘flexible’ and LeAnn Rimes is ‘leggy.’ They literally cannot write about a woman without commenting on her figure, favourably or otherwise. Why do they insist on objectifying women in such a way?
The part I hate the most about the Jennifer Hudson article is this; she ‘made the mistake of thinking she can wear absolutely anything now.’ Made the mistake. I think Jennifer looks great – she looks happy and comfortable in her own skin and isn’t that what counts? Also, we can wear whatever the hell we want, when we want to. I hate how there is this idea that we should be wearing certain things, and at the same time, should be avoiding certain clothes as well. Who decides how an item should look on a person?
We are so used to seeing outfits modelled by women who do not fairly represent the majority in society that we have somehow warped our ideas of how a garment should sit and fall on our bodies. I hear girls saying all the time that you can see their ‘bingo wings’ or their ‘chubby thighs’ and so they should steer away from things that don’t ‘flatter them.’
Gok Wan is a massive example of this; he is championed for boosting the self esteem of so many women and yet he falls completely into the category of someone who controls, who suggests and who decides how something should look on a person. He tells women to stay away from tight dresses, or skinny jeans or maxi dresses because they don’t ‘suit them’ but who the fuck gets to decide that? And why do we go along with it? We are told what colours look best on us, what shape of dress, what cut of jean – but what are we being measured against? If I don’t ‘suit’ pink or yellow, how is that worked out?
Everywhere we look we have clothes that are designed to hide parts of our bodies and exaggerate others. Look at Spanx – the ‘magic’ knickers that hide our unsightly tummy rolls and make us look acceptable in a dress. This is sending out the message, loud and clear, that we must be flat flat flat in the tummy region and that any hint of a less than concave stomach is horrible, in need of covering up immediately. The part that pisses me off is that we start to view our bodies as wrong, as not right, as being different to how it should look. It is your body, it looks exactly the way it should. You have a body that no one else has. Your body is completely your own, completely unique and amazing and yet we all seem intent on morphing into the same person, slimming down our flaws, hiding our arms and legs and tummies away in shame. We look at other women and wish we had their figures, we look at actresses and models and deem that figure as the ideal, the ‘right’ which in turn means that our bodies are ‘wrong.’ We devour articles in magazines telling us how to dress to flatter our body shape, how to dress to impress, how to hide our flaws, how to wear this season’s trends by body type etc. Every article telling us that a) there is an ideal way to look and a ‘right’ way to wear clothes and b) we must do what we can to look that way. Alongside these articles we have diet sections, diet magazines and diet products all to help us in our quest to disappear.
Recently Asda launched its ‘fruit’ range of dresses. They say that women have a body like pieces of fruit – tomato, nectarine, pear etc and that they have created the perfect dress to suit that type. Again, this is implying that women’s bodies should all follow a strict line of conduct. That our bodies should all be easily pigeonholed and quantified. That we should want to hide our ‘big’ bums and highlight our breasts because obviously that is the right thing to do.
What about the fact that I don’t like the dress for my apparent body shape? Should I still wear it, suffer for beauty? This idea that we should ‘work’ at looking good and should put effort into conforming just frustrates me so much. I love my body, love that it is mine. No I don’t look like a model on tv, but I look like me and that is enough. If I like maxi dresses or skinny jeans or short skirts and they don’t ‘suit me’ I don’t care. I will wear them because I want to and that should be enough of a justification.