Posts Categorized: body image

Reader Request: Internal Style Conflicts

What do you do when your dressing preferences clash with expert recommendations for flattering your figure?

Reader Sarah e-mailed this request to me:

I’m short and small-boned and hourglass-shaped, and I can find lots of advice for dressing that body type (full skirts, v-necks, nipped waists, tailored pants, etc.). However, I feel like there’s a clash between my body type and other elements: my face (apple-cheeked, not conventionally pretty), my hair (very short), and my personality (tomboyish, casual). When I wear skirts and dresses, which I do think suit my body, I feel very self-conscious, like I don’t match what I’m wearing. Clothes that I feel more like myself in (bootcut jeans, casual graphic tees) do not make me look my best. I wonder if other women struggle with this type of conflict, and how they deal with it. read more

Originally posted 2013-07-31 06:05:30.

What Flattering Means to Me

figure flattery

I talk a lot about traditional figure flattery. In no small part because that’s what you folks tell me interests you, and because the questions you have are typically very specific and include topics not covered by style books and magazines. I find it fascinating to learn about the challenges you face in dressing your personal best, and love to explore options with you.

I’m also fascinated by the F*ck Flattering movement which was more or less sparked by a tee shirt designed by Gisela Ramirez, and have read with interest the responses to this conscious rebellion against fashion rules and dressing norms. In common use, “flattering” means something that “makes your body appear tall, thin, balanced, and hourglass-shaped.” It also implies limiting jiggle, covering cellulite, wrinkles, and scars, keeping a large bust in check, and lots of control-related mandates. Traditional ideas of figure flattery are rooted in a very narrow beauty ideal, tied to the male gaze and heteronormativity, and extremely exclusionary. Looking past the obvious sizeism, consider that some petite women will never appear tall and some thin women will never appear hourglassy. “Flattering,” in common use, tries to force a marvelously diverse population of women into a very specific idealized shape. read more

Originally posted 2013-07-22 06:02:00.

Reader Request: Smart vs. Pretty

Reader Judy sent me this request via e-mail:

One of my fellow engineering students made the comment that girls in engineering are either “hot” and dumb, or really smart, socially awkward, and “ugly.” Upon remembering that I am, indeed, a girl, he babbled something about a happy medium, but the meaning was nonetheless clear. Time spent with power tools can limit my skirt and dress wearing, but I like to believe that I can be perceived as a woman, even an attractive woman, and also as competent and intelligent. read more

Originally posted 2011-08-09 06:22:31.