Perfection in Question

Hey everybody! Welcome back to my little corner of the internet. The second week of class was awesome. After a group discussion about our favorite designers from A-D in Phaidons’ The Fashion Book, we took inspiration from one of them to create a 3-piece paper couture collection. This is the first one I did:

While this isn’t directly related to fashion or FIT, a positive self-image is something many struggle with. It’s something I have struggled with. The fact that some people take time out of their day to say  hurtful words without a good reason astounds me. It just proves how bullying is such a problem in today’s world.

People generally look towards runways, red carpets, and magazines for direction of what “beautiful” looks like. But trends today don’t focus one just the “standard of beauty”, something that has changed dramatically over the years. It puts out an ideal of what’s “beautiful”, what’s “sexy”, what’s “attractive”, basically what looks good; and you don’t look like a Covergirl, or a model, or an actress- all with their own team of make-up artists and hair stylists. They have people surrounding them with the sole purpose of perfecting their looks. And magazines generally remove imperfections during post-production with software editing tools. Also, most models are airbrushed to convey the intangible notion of “perfection”.

However, this week, I wanted to focus on something that was more current-events related, to standards of beauty held by society. The ideal female form portrayed by the fashion industry is one of a tall, slender girl with not too many curves. The ideal from on the street is a more fleshed-out and curvy girl. But the majority of women carry around more than a little extra weight, have acne, stretch marks, or other blemishes, have some issues with frizzy hair, and they don’t have a team of professionally-trained makeup artists at their disposal.

This past week, a TV anchor by the name of Jennifer Livingston received an email criticizing her, based only on her appearance, from a sender who admitted he did not watch her show often. He calls her overweight and a bad role model for girls in the community. She responded in a way that made me glad that people like her exist.

“And here’s where I want us all to learn something from this. If you didn’t already know – October in National Anti-Bullying month. And this is a problem that is growing everyday in our schools and on the internet…What really angers me about this…there are children who don’t know better. Who get emails as critical as the one I received or in many cases even worse – each and every day.”

 

-Jennifer Livingston

Here is the video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUOpqd0rQSo

And she’s right. People do get bullied for their appearance, their ideas, even their sexual orientation; all things that can’t be changed, or shouldn’t be changed. Personally, I was made fun of for my natural curly hair, all the way back in sixth grade. It has taken me until last year, my sophomore year of High School, to be able to be fully comfortable with it.

Even in the magazines I read like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle… all I saw were gorgeous models with perfectly smooth hair. If curly hair was being portrayed, it was not natural.

When I started breaking out, I started noticing all the acne-prevention ads, concealer, and foundation advertisements. Normal teenagers and normal bodies are rarely, if ever, portrayed by the media in a positive light. The stereotypical portrayal is that of an awkward teenage girl in need of a total transformation, or of a nerdy teenage boy who needs to go the gym. Even the figure I did in class falls victim to the standard of perfection held by the industry, which, in illustration, is not necessarily a bad thing.

But the fashion industry needs to realize that people as young as seven are dieting to look like the unrealistic images surrounding them. And we can do that. This group of designers, those who will be editing the magazines, securing the models, holding the fashion shows, dressing the mannequins… everyone working towards a career in fashion can help change this. But that’s too limiting. Everybody can help change this, everybody can make a conscious decision to think before they speak. One of my favorite quotes is “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. I’d like to think that this is the first step, and when the destination is reached, the world is a place where natural beauty isn’t something that has to be “perfected” before it can be shown.

So what do you guys think?

Hugs,
Emily