Body Positivity Week: My experience with the Fashion Industry and Body Image

Good day you special Unicorn,

How are you? Qué Tal? Wie geht’s? Sava? I bet I wrote the french one wrong but who cares, am I right? This week is body positivity week, a theme week that I’m quite excited about as I think that there’s way too little done about the fact that most people don’t feel confident in their own skin. Which is, if you think about pretty damn sad because that skin you live in? Well it protects you from all the bacteria and germs in the air, it keeps your body functioning and if that’s not similar to a small wonderland then I’m not sure what is.
With my focus on this blog being on fashion and lifestyle I might have it a bit easier as you are all probably aware of the way our bodies are portrayed the wrong way in fashion and media.
Therefore, I’d like to talk a bit about my experience with body image and fashion.
But first, let’s cover some facts or general knowledge, whatever you want to call it. Just a quick disclaimer: In High School I held a presentation about Bulimia and Anorexia for psychology class, so if I can’t source anything, that’s because it’s been inside of my head for quite a while. Another disclaimer: I can’t promise that this Blog entry won’t be a trigger to some of you, so please if you’re not comfortable with topics such as body issues, eating disorders and the like, then be prepared. I linked eating disorder helplines at the end of this blog so feel free to scroll all the way down 🙂

Just as a start I want to point out that, according to the „National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders“ at least 30 Million (!) people in the world suffer from some kinds of eating disorder (that includes Anorexia, Bulimia, certain binge eating disorders and obesity). Just let that sink in. 30 Million! If I’ve done my math correctly that’s 0.42% (I didn’t do the math I asked google, I mean I’m almost failing statistics 1…) and that might not sound a lot, but of all people? In that scale it does sound a whole lot.
Now I’m not saying that the fashion industry is responsible for destroying the body image of all these 30 Million people, you have to consider that there are so many reasons why someone can develop an eating disorder, but I will say that the fashion industry does play a huge part in how people, especially women (although the number of men who suffer from an ED is growing), perceive their bodies.
Now back to me, as I think it is easier to explain how I feel about the fashion industry and body image, as facts might be all fun and games but in the end you need someone you can relate to right? So I’ll try and be as honest as I can, without invading my privacy and without triggering any negativity, because after all I want to make clear that a change needs to happen and that after all we’re all diverse and all different because that’s just the fucking beauty of life! Don’t fight me on that one.

Since I was little, fashion and looking „pretty“ has always fascinated me. My mums’ uncle was a photographer and I grew up with seeing beautiful portfolio shots of her all around the house. My mum was quite the babe. She had millions of shoes and bags and loads of jewelry so I would of course sneak up into the bedroom and try on the most expensive necklaces I could find until she found out and well…gave me one of the necklaces as a present.
When I went into kindergarten my mum laid a huge emphasize on me dressing nicely and I found a liking to it. I will admit I was quite the tomboy but when it came to fashion I loved to experiment. One of my it-pieces were bright orange dungarees paired with a long sleeve in a super neon turquoise and a seahorse family on it. You see, my fashion sense has never been better.

As I grew up I loved looking at magazines and was just fascinated with all the fabrics and colors but then when I got to the age of 10 or 11 my focus went from the clothes to the models wearing the clothes. Somehow their hair looked always shinier than mine and their lips looked always a bit fuller. But instead of envying them I started to idolize them. I crafted collages out of advertisements I found and hung them up in my room, waking up every day to the sight of some model smiling at me or giving me that mysterious look.
Then with 13 I found a book series called „The Clique“ that I loved, I adored and I binge read. It was about a clique of 4 (later 5) girls, who all grow up in very priviledged surroundings in the Hamptons.

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“The Pretty Committee” in their amazing designer clothes Source

Nothing special about that you may think, but oh no, those girls were known as „The Pretty Committee“, yup that’s correct. I bet many of you know about those books. They were always dressed in the newest designer clothes and reading about them dressing in Alice and Olivia or Ralph Lauren sparked my fascination with brands. Not only did they all wear those brands they also rated their outfits on a scale from 1 to 10. As all the girls I was friends with started reading the books and since they also had a movie coming out we started to rate our outfits as well. For a quite a while even. Every morning in school we’d look at our outfits and getting less than an 8.5 was a no-go. That’s basically when my obsession about my body really started. My friends always compared me to Alicia Rivera, the Latina of the clique with big boobs and that all the boys wanted. But to be honest my boobs were non existent and the only boy I ever really talked to was my brother or my dad. I did feel quite lucky though, when Alicia Rivera in the movie was cast as a girl my age, the other girls however, despite being around 12 in the book were portrayed by 15, 16 year old girls, who wore these amazing designer clothes and no matter what always looked flawless in them.
So to compete I soon started reading magazines like Glamour or Cosmopolitan, yes, also Teen Vogue but still, as a 13 year old? I think that’s way too early. I was just obsessed with the glamour that surrounded the fashion industry, everyone was pretty, everyone always looked good.
Don’t even get me started about the Victorias Secret Fashion Show that I also started watching at 14, if you ask me a really vulnerable state for a Teenage girl. My parents never really worried because well, I always played it off as a phase of me wanting to become a fashion designer, so duh! I had to know what was going on in the fashion industry.
What no one ever told me? That Photoshop existed, I do know now and I slowly start to realize that all these years I was basically brainwashed by the fashion industry.
I know that a change is being made, as more curvy models are used for advertisements but we’re still a long way from accepting every body type as the norm in this industry.

A 13 or 14 year old girl doesn’t look beyond the picture, at least I didn’t really. Well maybe I did but I shrugged it off and to me it was like, if you want to look like this you have to fucking work for it, and if you’re failing to look like this it’s your own fault. If they can look like this, you can as well. So of course I also wanted to wear the clothes they wore, but with 14 wearing something a 20 year old model is wearing, well of course it would look ridiculous.
Additionally I never thought about that it’s their job to look like this, they’re being paid for it. A VS model has a whole team supporting her to reach that body she needs to walk the show. Ignoring the fact that I am too small anyway, I never thought that I didn’t need to look like this cause it’s not my job after all. It’s just that no one ever told me.
I’m not blaming my parents for this cause they always tried to raise me as a self confident young girl and they always told me they loved me, but as a teenager you just don’t take this too seriously.
So when social media started to become big, I did check out those Pro Mia, Pro Ana and thinspo instagrams and tumblrs. I never understood why certain clothes didn’t look good on me and I blamed it on my body shape. I won’t go into detail but I needed some time to come to terms with my body and that my metabolism just works differently than the one of others. That my body is okay the way it is and that it has always been that way and that I cannot force it to change with drastic measures. That I need to learn to love my body and react to what my body thinks is good for me. That not every piece of clothing will look good on me because everybody is different. Therefore I needed some time to find out what suits me and what not but now I actually know pretty well what I can pull off and what not without hiding me or my body or changing my personality, because after all fashion is about having fun and experimenting, not about following the trends to look like the models in the magazine.

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Source: Pinterest

I’m still a long long way from getting that perfectionist mindset out of my brain but I hope someday I’ll look into the mirror and be proud of my thighs touching, be proud that my boobs are a bit smaller, be proud that I have a big butt (and I cannot lie, you other brothers can’t deny…:D) and be proud that my body is functioning just right, that I can run up a hill without collapsing that I can pull off that bodycon dress cause it hugs my curves just right.
And whatever body shape you may have, there’s always something out there to wear for you, you don’t need to look like one of those models to look good in it. Just learn how to dress right for your body type and hopefully the rest will just come with it.
I am proud of you for being yourself, if you ever need someone to talk to please know that you can message us on our social media all day, every day.
Spread positivity and support people around you!
Loads and loads of love and positivity,
Lili xxx

Eating Disorder support and help:

US:
ANAD treating center partners
ANAD help and crisis line
Eating Disorder Hope Crisis and help line

Germany:
Beratungsangebote für Essstörungen von der BzgA

UK:
Eating Disorder Support
Beating Eating Disorders Helpline, separate ones for Adults and Teenagers

Australia:
National Eating Disorder Collaborations helpline

Canada:
Nedic helpline

International helplines

Castaway Minds Social Media:
Twitter: @castaway_minds
Instagram: @castawayminds

 

Featured Image: source

 

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