What It's Really Like to Work in Fashion When You're Not a Size 2
Since I started my career as a writer and editor in the fashion space a few years ago, I haven’t exactly been shy about the fact that I am not the ultra-slim size-2 fashion girl most people are used to encountering in the field. And even when I was at my tiniest size, I wasn’t happy—something else I’ve been fairly transparent about.
Something I haven’t spoken as much about is how it feels to be the size I am—somewhere between a U.S. size 8 and 10 on a normal day—and to work in an industry that almost universally lauds and praises ultra-skinny bodies. Like many women, I have a somewhat complicated relationship with my own body—one that the term “love/hate” doesn’t quite capture. I feel radically different in my body from day to day, and this feeling has a lot to do with physicality: Did I drink last night? Did I have dessert? Did I skip dinner entirely because I was out at events? But there’s this experience of being a woman that many men will never understand (sorry, lads)—the experience of seeing your body an entirely different way than other people do.
To others, my general appearance (including my body) probably appears pretty consistent from day to day—but to me, I feel that my body “looks” better on some days than other days. The technical term for this, I believe, is body dysmorphia—a body-image disorder in which sufferers think about and inflate their body imperfections for literally hours each day. While I don’t think I am a clinical victim of this unfortunate sickness, I do think I at times have a warped sense of my own body image—and I think my position in the fashion industry has heightened that distortion.
The fashion industry is obsessed with bodies—after all, fashion by definition is the art of designs that are meant to be worn on the body. You can’t talk about clothes (shirts, jeans, dresses, sweaters, all of it) without also talking about bodies. And when you are a minority-size body being talked about, eyeballed, and (all too often) critiqued by the fashion world, it can be tough—and a minority is what I truly feel like I am. While in the world at large I have quite the average body type, in fashion I am without a doubt above average; I have big breasts, I’m hippy, and my thighs jiggle. You can probably imagine how uncomfortable it feels to be a size 8 in a sea of size-2 frames—even as a person who makes sincere efforts to love my body at all its various shapes and sizes. I still feel that pressure to be thin. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t.
The good news is that for as many days that I feel out of place, marginalized, and like my body is not appreciated, I have days when I feel empowered in my body. I’ve gotten some amazing responses from real women who’ve read my body-acceptance pieces—and to know that I’m making even a small difference in how women view their own bodies has a huge impact on me. I think of myself as a warrior for women’s body empowerment, and I view each day as a new battle; just by showing up and saying “My body is valid and beautiful and stylish too,” I feel like I’m doing something important. Sure, I have those days when I think about how much easier my life would be if I were thinner, if I fit into that fashion-girl mold we’ve all been conditioned to believe is the ideal—but ultimately, I think I’ve had a much more profound impact on the fashion world just by being my real self. I enjoy bringing body diversity to an industry that, let’s be honest, desperately needs it—and I really hope I’m inspiring and empowering other women to enjoy their bodies as well, no matter their size.
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