point of view

Point of View: Fashion Aspirations and Body Image

Did you spend your lunch hour looking at your favorite glossy today? Did it cause you to be guilty about what you just ate and probably also spoilt the rest of the day because you could not take your body image off your mind? This situation, as extreme as it may sound is not unheard of anymore. The unattainable, flawless imagery plastered everywhere we see, in editorials, ad campaigns etc are taking their toll. The phenomenon is nothing new either but the there has been positive signs of change in recent years.

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There are many reasons why, world over magazine subscriptions are dwindling. How many of us can really afford the garments they put on display in their pages? How many of us have the perfect body or skin that they force us to aspire for? Liz Jones, a former Marie Claire Editor rightly called the magazines fake and that they have stopped being on our side, the real women.

Wink N Pout team, holds it time and again that real women comes in all shapes and sizes, and a size 0 women is as real as a size 14. We understand there is diversity and take pride in it. Then why can’t magazines realize the fact and stop crushing the self esteem and body image of these very women on the pretext of fashion aspiration? Why do we have to put up with all these false air brushed images of the fashion world where wrinkles, bulges, love handles et all are simply non-existent?

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A very old study from back in the 80s stated that looking at fashion magazines for just three minutes lowers the self-esteem of over 80% of women (Dr Susie Orbach) We wonder how denting looking at these magazines is now, since not even a single photograph is published without being photoshopped. There was no such thing back then.

In fact it will be interesting to note that a certain digital re-toucher Roy A Cui who has worked for the likes of Nike and Neutrogena came out in the open to protest against it, when he realized the repercussions of what his career of choice did to the women who saw the pictures. It all happened when he told a woman that it was “standard for me to thin and elongate legs, thin down the waist and arms, remove any bulging flesh, remove wrinkles, bags under the eyes, blemishes, freckles, tattoos, fix a lazy eye, remove or minimize creases where there should be creases, like the underarm or the neck” The woman was shocked and told him that she came to work every day thinking that there was something wrong with her. That incident triggered him thinking about the ethics of his job and gave him a reality check. It brought to his notice, that women out there are actually starving themselves to fit the industry beauty standards.

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But when the standard model for creating demand for products in the fashion industry is by feeding consumers high aspiration pictures, which would make them feel dissatisfied with themselves and what they own, and hence in turn make them believe that the said product is ‘the thing’ to make them happy – magazines will argue how will they earn profits?

But we say gone are the days when the consumer could be fooled into buying and believing that they are not perfect. Women all over the world have been protesting against this false show of perfection. In April 2009, Glamour Magazine featured a real Lizzie Miller with her less than “perfect” body and there were applauds and support beyond measure. It shows a trend as the same thing is happening with blogs who feature real women and issues, and hence have more reach and love from the readers.

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In all our pride and glory, Wink N Pout team will only like to conclude by saying that we promote a healthy body image, we promote loving yourself and your body type and believe that fashion magazines and brands should start to cater to this rising wave in order to stay on the same page with their consumers. Narrow the aspiration, bring in the inspiration that is real and relatable, and that indeed will be the face of the new-age fashion magazine that women will love.

Point of view is a bi-monthly section on this blog in which Wink n Pout stylists question standards and popular mindsets. We believe a lot is going haywire in the fashion industry and a sensible change is much needed. We believe it is time to speak up!

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