When I look in the mirror, I do not see the girl other people see. Of course, I do see the big bush of blonde curls, of which I’m actually proud, and my blue, almond-shaped eyes that I think are pretty. But these days I catch sight of something new. Something that I quite like.
L’art pour l’art. When I burst (quite literally) out of my high fashion shell and became a ‘curvy’ model, I thought freedom of portrayal would come along with my new body freedom. Naive, you could say. Hopeful, I would say. But no: modelling likes its boxes, and those with lanky limbs are granted arty fashion, whereas those with hourglass shapes receive femininity. I recently wrote a piece on the first plus size fashion show gracing the runways of New York Fashion Week, and I noticed immediately that it wasn’t picked up by big fashion websites like Style.com (usually covering all the shows). In their defense: the plus size collection looked more wearable than what any of the high fashion houses would ever show on the Fashion Week runway. Pretty dresses: perfect for curvy bodies, yes, but perhaps not art.
I am walking down the street, when that bottle-blond girl from my University class passes me. She hurriedly acknowledges me with a smile before hurrying onwards to the seminar for which we’re both late. I scowl; her smile is crooked and her bright red lipstick only enhances that. It draws way too much attention to her teeth, and as she walks away from me her behind jiggles — badly. She really shouldn’t be wearing those leggings like they’re a pair of jeans — they’re not — and just like everyone else she can’t pull it off.
Guest contribution by Marisa Vega – The first time I realised that my mother might be sick, I was 22 years old. I was listening to public radio and the programme featured an expert who was talking about “Body Dysmorphic Disorder” and how it was a problem afflicting a growing number of girls and women in the United States. At the start of the discussion this expert began running through a checklist of some sort — you know, the kind of “Is this you?” quiz you’d see in a magazine such as Glamour or Seventeen. I could almost see the headline: “Do you have Body Dysmorphic Disorder?” The man must’ve been fifteen psychological symptoms into his rundown when I realised, “Oh my goodness, this list my mother! This list is my mother to a T!” It was a scary thing to come to terms with, but that wasn’t the worst of it. The scarier part was that over half of those symptoms appeared to describe me as well.
For the past two years I have watched the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. I watch for the over-the-top lingerie creations, the cliché pop sensations that turn up, and to see who’s my favourite model this year. I watch to see the backstage footage of the girls telling stories about their lives, and to see them interact with each other — and the pop stars. Basically I watch to see a well-constructed, super-American circus show. There’s not a moment, however, when I’m thinking of the girls’ bodies and how they should affect me. Cause they don’t.