Have you ever walked into a department store and you get a funny look and someone asks you if you’re pregnant and you get offended and leave angrily? Imagine not being able to leave a store because you work there and have to endure women constantly asking you how far along you are. You can’t hit them, you can’t argue with them, and you can’t tell them off because you work at a high standard department store. All you can do is look at yourself in the mirror and pray to goddess that the next outfit you wear doesn’t accentuate your belly. Also, say goodbye to having a big lunch because the slightest bloat is going to invite very friendly nurses to inquire about your food baby while you’re giving them a style consultation in the dressing room. On the surface you forgive them and laugh it off but underneath you’re burning and twisting in the black hole of shame and self-hate. How are people allowed to inflict such emotional pain on a human being? I get that in some cultures it’s a compliment and it means you’re a fertile ideal woman but the customer has just opened up a Pandora’s Box of body issue PTSD. They don’t know my past eating disorders, or my mental health struggles, or even my muscle injuries caused by an unrealistic weight loss goal in the eighth grade.
I can’t help but think about the thin old ladies who have made me their victim and how easy that had it not constantly looking like a bloated pear all the time. They didn’t have fat collecting on their abdominal, no stretch marks from constant weight fluctuation, and no problem finding clothes that fit perfectly to their industry standard bodies. Oh what a life! They never experienced the frustration of being sweaty and frustrated while trying to squeeze into a dress you thought you loved but instead pinpoints your body’s flaws like putty seeping out of a hot trash bag.
A lot of people preach that they are with the “Body Inclusive Movement” but when it comes down to it the Industry has barely dipped a toe into what bodies really look like. I remember being asked to do a shoot for a big name brand in San Francisco and it was one of my very exciting first shoots I had ever done. We ran around San Francisco all day in platform shoes and they never ended up publishing the pictures even after they told me specifically “We want to get on board with the plus size movement.” To this day they still use very thin models. They have a very long way to go if they want to claim to be inclusive. I have seen hundreds of women looking for their plus size wardrobe and get very discouraged because all there is for them are boxy sheath dresses and geriatric fashions. The women having to buy these clothes are suffering from a broken system of fast fashion. Their best bet is to break the bank to buy an outfit from Torrid. Don’t get me wrong, I love Torrid. I went to one of their model searches in Los Angeles and saw the glory of plus size models strutting their stuff. Unfortunately, my body was not a contender. I am an in between size slipping through the cracks. Not thin enough for main stream clothes and not big enough for truly plus size garments. My only hope was to start making my clothes and now I can with the greatest of ease.
I am finding that the new age of fashion will be filled glorious seamstresses living at home making clothes for their truly inclusive communities. They will add curves and darts to glorify and worship the body like it should be. Fashion is cycling back to the theme of Art, the true mother of clothes. All too often I see money being substituted in the place of art and it causes landslides of clothes ending up in landfills. I think most every fashion student would like to bring fashion back to life, but the problem is that most designers only want to make money with their creations and doom themselves from the start. Women like me don’t want to be convinced that a dress will bring them happiness, we just want to look damn good and feel like the sexiest lady in the room like every other woman. We want to be a part of the party that has fun and is care free and not have to worry about a bodice being too tight or a skirt showing the outline of our stomachs if we eat something. Worrying can take up ninety percent of your thought process when we become insecure about what others think of our silhouettes. Instagram contributes to almost one hundred percent of the way we compare ourselves to others. We post photos about how good we have it, how thin we are, how thin we could be with a magical diet, how athletic we are, how fabulous we look in our designer outfits, and how you could look like a model if you subscribe. It’s the unobtainable quality that makes us yearn to be like these Instagram people. “Maybe if I looked like them I would be happy.” If I have learned two things from my journey it’s, “The universe tends to unfold as it should” and “Be happy in the moment and get some perspective.” A destructive habit I have tried to break is looking at my body in the mirror all the time. Checking how much your stomach has bloated or how much weight you supposedly lost on a ridiculous fad diet. I would check myself almost every hour so I never got the real perspective of how my body was changing. I stopped checking and stopped thinking about my weight as much. The next time I looked at myself I thought, “Wow! I look good!”
The worry you have about your body weight can snowball very quickly into an eating disorder, mental health issues, and self-hate. The self-hate often turns into a slightly validating Instagram post that gets forty five likes that most likely come from bots. In this way we are leaving our self-worth at the mercy of the opinions of strangers online. Outside of social media we can do way more to lift ourselves up and make an actual career of modeling than we can with being an “Instagram Model.” Social media will not pay you a living wage unless you literally live on the internet and constantly make endless videos that have to be funny or entertaining. How does that equate to happiness? I think hard work is the key to any sort of tranquility. I drive from Sacramento to San Francisco for modeling go-sees to either get the job or try again on another go-see. Either way you look at it I am in the real life situations that get you noticed. No hashtags, no likes, no social media. Once you accept who you are you start to relax and settle into the body you have and can really see your own potential.
Let’s face it, social media platforms ultimately want to profit off of your insecurities and don’t want you to get a million likes to make you happy. It’s simply not profitable for their business model. Let’s fight back and be happy with who we are. Let’s reject the insecurities projected onto us by the media driven society we live in.