Maybe it was because we had both had been watching re-runs of Sex and the City on E, or perhaps it was the feeling that Spring was breaking and it always makes you want to renew something, your home, your self, or your wardrobe, either way, Sunday my Bestie April and I decided to forgo our usual in house brunch and go shopping instead. April had sworn off skinny jeans but had decided to give them another shot. Although she is “skinny”, being 5”10 she found the standard 29 inch inseam too short and thought that the style itself made her look too much like a stick. I know, it’s hard to be her friend when it comes to conversations of her trying to gain weight and looking too thin, but the poor dear, someone’s got to do it.
So we decided to make it a jeans hunting Sunday and save our cocktailing for the post to make us feel better about the traumatic experience, which is akin to bathing suit shopping in terms of horror. In the past I have spent exurbanite amounts of money for the hip hot jeans, but the fit was never right. If they fit right in the hips and thighs I would always have that gap at the back of the waist. After spending $200.00 I found that additional $30.00 for tailoring insulting. Speaking of the gap- that is where I would always end up, at the Gap, buying my jeans out of their “Curvy” line. For $60.00 I could slip on a pair of jeans that fit like a glove, hugged the waist and made everyone ask, “What kind of jeans are they?” I after 3 seasons of shopping around and trying to spend money, only to be left feeling like a deformed loser because nothing fit right or looked good, as a last resort I would end up back at the Gap. I decided to commit to the brand and be done with it.
Sunday it was my plan to start high end and then if we had no luck go to the Gap- thus making April a new convert. Coming from opposite ends of the Isle of Manhattan we braved the typhoon that was Sunday’s weather pattern and met at Bloomingdale’s. In the J Brand section we were assisted by a lovely salesman Jonathan (his real name because he was a riot, honest and supremely helpful- Kudos) and she began the tedious process of pulling on and off at least eight pairs of jeans: the J Brands were the right wash but were indeed too short, another brand (Karen) I thought looked banging but April wasn’t sold. She tried a Jegging but thought it was skanky- and not “classy” skanky, which is workable but tacky skanky, which is unacceptable. We even sunk to the point of trying 7’s Kimmie (Kardashian) jeans, they were a good fit but the wrong wash, and frankly I didn’t want to contribute to the 65 million dollar empire (call me a hater and I’ll answer). So exasperated, we thanked Jonathan and, with our blood alcohol levels dangerously low for a Sunday evening we decided to abort the mission and go for cocktails. On our way out we passed by the Helmut Lang section, as we weighed in on what we thought of the designs, (both agreeing that Jersey could be a dangerous textile) I spied a dark wash, straight-leg jean. I convinced her to give it one last try. As the sales person looked for her size, a row unclothed, golden mannequins caught my eye, not because they were unclothed but because they were skeletal and suffering from the worst case of Kyphosis I had seen since the Hunchback of Notre Dame. They were hunched and hungry- oohh that’s hot!
Why is concentration camp thin chic?
As they were bare, bald, and metallic they looked like the alien creatures that step off of UFO’s. You know the ones who come to invade planet Earth to either kill off the human race or use us as host bodies. At first I found it disturbing because these forms are used to sell to us [women] but my second realization was even more frightening. Although these were inanimate objects devoid of flesh, blood and organs (perhaps why they were so thin) they were in fact not so far from the average size of living breathing models.
(this is not the actual mannequins- didn’t think to take the pic, darn!)
I understand that there are women who are naturally thin, even skinny, but they are in no sense (especially in this country) the norm. I find it disturbing is that we, [women] come in all shapes and sizes and yet there is little to no representation of that fact even when we, [real women] are being marketed to. There is no wonder why we suffer from body image issues. The marketing to real women is segregated- placed apart, it’s the Jim Crow aspect of Fashion. Seriously, a size 12 (which technically in America is still below average) is considered plus size for the fashion industry. I ask you how can women feel good about spending money on clothing if we are made to feel inadequate about our size and form through the imagery generated to represent us? We, real women are not truly considered in the aesthetic of the optimum form that these garment are designed to clothe. Personally if I’m going to buy something, I want to be able to see the possibility of myself in it, is that so wrong?
I started to look around at the women on the sales floor, both the sales women and shoppers, and no one, including my hatefully thin best friend looked like that. Who is this image that supposed to represent? The ideal? If so, then the ideal of what? Of whom? Well clearly we are all falling short. How can that image inspire one to buy a garment if when the truth of your reality faces you in the mirror of the dressing room and you see flesh on hips, and booty poking out where on the mannequin it hung limply, effortlessly down? It makes you feel less than and messes with your head.
What is more interesting is that mannequins like people actually do come in varying sizes and colors. Depending on where you shop you might well see a version of your form in plastic. I have always found it interesting that when you go into communities that are primarily African or Latino, the mannequins always have a round booty that when selling jeans (for the most part) is turned outwards to the onlooker mimicking how booty proud women often like to take pictures
(you know the booty to the camera looking over the shoulder pose “heeey”).
They are fuller forms that are familiar, and representative of the women being sold to. The question is why are these fuller mannequin forms relegated to certain areas and classes when in truth women, white, black, yellow red and mixtures of the rainbow, rich, poor or somewhere in between take on every shape and form? There are thick women on Flatbush Avenue and there are thick women on 5th Avenue. It’s just an observation.
April tried the Helmut Lang’s loved them, bought them and we never made it to the Gap. Instead we risked getting an eye gouged out by oncoming umbrellas, took the N train downtown and had our girl time over wine and salads with sides of fries! Yes I had fries, and I enjoyed them because at the end of the day, I don’t want to looked hunched and hungry, I would much prefer, healthy and happy! Cheers!