Why Does the Fashion Industry Promote Negative Body Types – Guest Post By Jennifer Scott
I consider beauty an inside job (first), but then again I consider most things in life as inside jobs. I do believe a great outfit can improve one’s mood significantly, but it’s a short-term win. Your love for your body, that amazing vessel that carries you through this life, is the long-term win.
Nevertheless, we are all susceptible to outside influences such as other people’s (strong) opinions, societal trends, and even industry “prescriptions”. Without those kind of influences, as triggers, life would be a mild breeze and not teach us as much. Which is also why I am happily impressed by guest author Jennifer’s standpoint below. While being an expert in fashion and beauty, she manages to keep us aware of how that industry influences our self-image and self-confidence…
To all of the other ladies out there, both young and wise, and anyone in between, I say this first and foremost: You are beautiful, in every way, just exactly the way you are.
This is a message and a mindset that is becoming more popular than ever in the modern, western world – to love yourself, and your body, and to be proud of them both, despite what anyone else may think or tell you. It’s an important message, especially for the younger women out there still in their formative years, when you consider the fact that we come from an unthinkable variety of genetic design, social influence, and cultural norms. It’s physically impossible for all of is (or even most of us) to achieve what the widespread media and beauty industries have deemed to be “the perfect body.”
So when you think about it like that, why do the majority of women still get wrapped up in masking their flaws and perfecting themselves? If realistically, we can understand and accept that we are all unique, why are we and those around us unable to recognize the beauty in that fact alone? Why do so many of us still aspire so strongly to change ourselves, to become what we are not, and to sacrifice so much to be accepted and perceived as attractive?
Why do so many women today struggle with (and even lose their lives to) eating disorders, all in the hopes of being thinner than what their bodies are designed for?
The answer to all these questions lies within the fact that the positive message I gave you earlier is still a very controversial one today, thickly marred with the overwhelming social expectations of our peers, our professional connections, and even our loved ones. And although these expectations may be innate for some of those people, they are greatly supported (and even promoted) by the various beauty industries that advertise to us daily.
Because like any other profit-driven company, corporation or industry in America, fashion companies need to perpetuate an ever-desirable product in order to remain functional and profitable. If they can’t consistently make us women (who, by the way, make up just about half of the world’s population) want to keep up with the trends, fit into smaller clothes, and be as pretty a the models they employ to sell their products, then fashion companies risk losing their most marketable tool:
Just think of the last time you bought something to wear that maybe wasn’t even really your style, but you were convinced you could make it look just like it did on the store model. Or what about the last time you struggled to find clothes that fit the way you like, because you went shopping thinking you knew your size, only to find out that your three favorite brands actually deem you to be three different sizes? I myself just the other day tried on a pair of pants, liked the way they fit, and bought two other pairs of pants in the same size, from the same brand and at the same store – yet when I got home, I realized that my shorts fit much less comfortably than my jeans did.
And we’re all guilty of at least thinking this one at some point: “This is so cute, but I can’t find a size that fits me. I’ll just buy it a little bit small, and I’ll fit into it eventually.” (Some of us ladies even go so far with this one as to apply this thought to our wedding gowns!)
And that’s exactly the way these companies want us to think. They do want us to be confused and slightly ashamed when we have to go up a size or two, just because their brand has a particular cut and measuring method. They want us to buy things that don’t fit us quite right, with the idea that we will make sacrifices to change ourselves in order to wear clothes we like that were actually designed for a different and very specific body type. And they rely on us female consumers responding to their products this way, because as long as the “ideal body” that they promote is largely unattainable for most of us (which it always will be – remember, genetics), these shame tactics will always work on us.
Instead of encouraging us to be proud of and to decorate our bodies comfortably and uniquely, fashion companies manipulatively orchestrate this constant need for change and self improvement, because it’s more of a surefire way to get a sale out of us than otherwise, say, encouraging you to love yourself and your style – why would you need to buy their clothes if you already loved the way you looked? And from a production standpoint, it’s more cost-effective to sell the same styles, cuts, and trends to millions of women than it is to be creative and unique with their designs, and then try to market their variety to the right women who will appreciate them. So when you think about it, we can see how their motives actually make sense, detrimental as they may be to the mindset of western women as a whole.
And this model of telling you that you need something other than what you have in order to be happy is not uncommon – far from it. There isn’t a profitable company out there that keeps its wheels spinning by letting you believe that you don’t need what they’re selling, which means that they obviously don’t have your best interest at heart. They’re here to make money, as any successful business should plan to do. The fashion companies simply have one of the most easily-influenced and marketable demographics in the world to work with. (As long as we keep spending money on cosmetics to highlight our faces and hair products to make ourselves look young and healthy, we’re going to want the clothes and shoes to match.)
So girl, as you go through life crafting and perfecting yourself, try your best not to listen to what these companies will tell you is your best look. Don’t believe them when they say that you’d be so much happier – if only you were ten pounds lighter, or had the curves to fit into that dress everyone is wearing, etc. As you make your way, remember that your most beautiful style is the one you enjoy best – and also that if you can learn to be happy with that, then you’re already golden.
Jennifer is the beauty and brains behind Beautifully Alive! She loves eating healthy and trying new recipes. The self-proclaimed Zumba Queen has a passion for beauty products and loves reading new books. She’s always down for a DIY project!