07 September 2010

Feminism: You're doing it wrong

Christina Hendricks, the beautiful co-star of Mad Men had to beg fashion designers for a dress, because she's just too curvy to fit into those size 0 and 2 things that designers are so fond of. 

This article pisses me off in *so* many ways. The obvious, is the point that the writer was making, that she's a beautiful woman, but to the fashion industry, she's nothing, because she just doesn't fit the mold they design for. So change the mold to fit more women. Yes? So why is she so woman-unfriendly in making her point?

Let me pick out some sentences that I find questionable.
'She's a woman, she's got a woman's body. But most actors these days, there's nothing to them - they're a clothes hanger.'
Here, she's quoting Lawren Sample, Hendricks' stylist. It's the quote that they chose to inset. She refers to women whose bodies she doesn't approve of as "clothes hangers". Really? That's how you're going to defend larger women? By objectifying smaller ones? Because we can't have different sizes.

What really got me is the inset near the end:
Sexy Curves - 78 per cent of men say they prefer curvaceous women, while just 7 per cent prefer skinny girls.
Really? 7 percent prefer girls?! Who knew the rate of pedophilia was so high? /sarcasm. Again it's the "curvy women are women. Thin women are girls" meme that is supposed to be supportive of curvy women. Clearly, we can't support ALL women, only a certain subset are valuable.

And lest you think I am being unfair to the article writer, look at the final line:
Good for him. Finally, a woman who looks like a woman. Not like a child or an adolescent boy. And most certainly not like a coat hanger.
I've never met a woman who looks like a child, or an adolescent boy. Why is it always 'boy' in that example? Have you noticed that? The people who denigrate small women always compare them to young boys, never young girls. It seems to me to be another example of humiliation via transphobia. But back to the point, I know small women with small breasts and hips who look like women, with small breasts and hips. They don't look like children or boys. Sometimes they look like they could use a sandwich or an IV drip. But mostly, they just look like small women.

It's truly frustrating that in an article meant to condemn the fashion industry for their short-sighted view of women's bodies that the author chooses to have a short-sighted view of women's bodies.

I think the quote that amused (in an LOLFAIL manner) me most was this:
Starre Vartan, a U.S. stylist who has put together many catwalk shows, defends the fashion industry.
'There is good reason for the small sample sizes. It comes down to business and logistics. The wonderful thing about women is their curves - but the bigger the size, the more curves, and the less easy it is to fit them in a way that's flattering to the clothes, which ultimately you're trying to sell.'
She insists it's not that curves are bad, it's just they vary so much.
'After dressing close to 100 young women, I can tell you that no two bodies are the same.
'Figuring out what outfits will work on which bodies in the short amount of time you have at a fashion show is hard, so going size zero - eliminating those bulges - is just easier.'
So, it is not about what the customer wants, it is about profit.
Okay, so it's "But I don't know how to make any other kinds of clothes. If I try to make clothes for anything but one extremely rare shape, it'll be harder and take more time, and that'll cost money." But in the meantime, the vast majority of women, even the beautiful Ms. Hendricks can't buy the clothes because they're made to fix rectangular* women. So where is the profit in that?!

I'm going to make Product X and tell the world that only the very best people can buy Product X, and then when zillions of people want to buy Product X say, nope, I only can make this for 1% of the population because that's how it looks best. That's the worst logic I've ever seen out of a capitalist except for maybe "buying on margin".

*Not a slur on those women. Just as "pear-shaped" and "apple-shaped" aren't necessarily slurs.


Jymn Parrett said...

Remember, celebrities attending awards shows are dressed by people who do not appreciate the sexuality of women. To the designers, women are mannequins who breathe. The curvy allure of a woman eludes them. It's as if the designers are trying to dress a 12-year-old boy. So, it's not surprising the sexiness of a Hendricks is beyond their scope of understanding or feeling.

Luna said...

I know, that was sorta my point. Or one of them, anyway. But again, you use the 'boy' example. Why is it always a 12-year old boy, rather than a 12-year-old girl? And why not recognise that the models are actually women? Real women.

It's no surprise, of course. Designers make clothes for the smallest, least curvy women they can find. And then get defensive when the vast majority of us complain that we're left out. But there's no excuse for calling them out on that behaviour with language that is equally appalling.