Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I've got a gripe

My entire life I have had a problem finding clothes that actually fit me. Being short (or petite as the clothing industry would call me) presents challenges when trying to find clothes. Shopping in the "petite" department is generally depressing. Don't those buyers realize that there are petite women who are under the age of 65? I admit I am getting on up there in age but spare me with the elastic waist polyester pants and matching top in that lovely shade of mauve. YUCK!

In recent years it isn't just the height issue that has presented a challenge when it comes to finding clothes. I find that more and more clothing designers are designing clothes that are only suitable for the models that wear them on the runways. Many times, I have found a cute top only to discover that the size large would have fit me when I was around 10 years old.

Up until now, I have only been slightly perturbed by the industry. I figure that somewhere out there is a piece of clothes with my name on it and eventually I will find it. But, now have a preteen daughter. And shopping with her is about as much fun as having all my teeth pulled. Not because she is picky about what she want to wear. Quite the opposite. She sees dozens of outfits that she loves. But unfortunately those clothes are made for someone who is thin as a rail.

It's no wonder that the majority of women and girls don't like their bodies. For one thing, it's crammed down our throats that thin is in. Magazines are filled with ultra thin models. Every other commercial is for some sort of weight loss "miracle" pill or exercise program. When we go to buy clothes, finding something that actually fits and doesn't look like it belongs on our grandmother is a challenge.

The average American woman is 5'4", weighs 152 pounds and wears a size 14. According to a recent survey, 49 percent of women say that the current styles available do not flatter their shape, while 45 percent generally can’t find their size in the clothing they like. So why is it that the clothes are made for women who wear a size 0 and have a 22" waist (which by the way is what a typical 8 year old measures)? Seems to me that if these clothing designers would make clothes for real women, they would sell more.

In a society where obesity is a real problem, we often overlook that fact that anorexia is too. Studies show that 50% of 9-year-old girls and 80% of 10-year-old girls have dieted. Why is that? Because that is what they see and hear. And they want to look like those girls they see in the magazines and on television. And to do so they must fit in the slim styles that fit those same teeny size 0 girls.

Perhaps if more people would speak up, then the fashion industry would start to wake up. In an interview with the Ladies Home journal, Valerie Bertinelli (who is now a spokeswoman for Jenny Craig) blamed the Supermodels for modern eating disorder trends. She told LHJ that too many girls and young women are starving themselves to emulate "skinny" catwalk stars, and the models fail to understand that sizes zero and two are not the norm. She said that, "When there were several of those models dying from anorexia and I read that Gisele Bundchen said something about it's not being the designers' fault but the parents' fault, I was like, 'Well now, wait a minute, Miss Skinny Girl.' (I said), 'Designers do have something to do with this because they hire women like you.' There was one designer who was proud of herself because she hired models that were a size four. And when asked why she didn't hire a (size) six or eight, she said, 'Because the clothes don't look good. They don't hang right.' Aren't you supposed to design clothes that look good on real women?" Amen sister.

Wouldn't it be nice to see real women (and girls) represented in the media? Bravo to Dove who is one of the first big name companies to have real women in their advertisements.

So what do we do to help our daughters understand that being rail thin isn't normal? Encourage them to take care of themselves and to make healthy choices. Teach them that it's not normal to be 5'8" and a size 0. Teach them to love who they are.

Now if we could just get the fashion industry to sit up and take notice so that we real women could find some decent clothes to wear.


Kim Eckhardt said...

Sing it, sister!

Kim Eckhardt said...

Another grip that I have is that all of the clothes made look like hoochey-mamma clothes. I go to buy clothes for my nieces and can't find anything that isn't a belly shirt or low cut pants. Really. Why does a 2 year old need to look like a Bratz doll?

/glad I only have boys...

Heather Leigh said...

And the other half of the commercials are for Burger King, McDonald's, Applebees, and Oreos. Marketers cram Get Thin and then Eat This down our throats CONSTANTLY!