Shape-shifting continues to be a major talking point for women and fashion, and now we seem to be caught in a loop of inclusivity and positivity. Sohiny Das shares her viewpoint.
There’s so much ongoing conversation about ‘real bodies’. Fashion is always in pursuit of the ‘new sexy’. Plus size, petite, full-figured, curvy, bootylicious, muscular and a plethora of adjectives have long entered our daily speak. Keto, workout videos and a heightened sense of positivity rule our social medias and social circles. Inclusive, supportive and democratic are the supercharged buzzwords (or so I think since I can’t keep up with the everchanging vocab trends). Empowered sisterhoods ensure that you belong – somewhere.
The ban of size zero and underage models by international fashion giants like LVMH and Dior has made headlines. The inclusion of fuller girls on mainstream runways by Prabal Gurung and Michael Kors is a catwalk in the right direction. The fight against anorexia and bulimia is now global. Body activism is the current key to healthy living, our icons encourage us to speak up, speak out and celebrate our forms; ‘sexy’ comes in all shapes. Manipulation of photos by system-work in magazines is facing increasing criticism. Imagery has to be responsible and respectful, else the vigilante will call you out. Who run the world? Girls. You can feel the adrenalin of a revolution.
There is more shape diversity than ever before; the rules for ‘ideals’ are finally being broken. It is a change for good. Then why is the overwhelming amount of body talk creating mixed feelings within me? It seems that despite going through bone-cracking corsets, ‘garçon’ frames, the hourglass, waif figures and a lifelong pursuit of the balance that would please both him and our mothers, women continue to equate ‘being secure’ or ‘feeling empowered’ with their physical forms. Year after year, decade after decade. We ‘celebrate’ glorious maternity and post-natal bodies, create icons simply because we resonate with their shape-shifting. Despite the breakthrough from stereotypes, this excessive mass of body-centric conversation is now surpassing fever-pitch and creating mere noise; I am hoping that post this cacophonic crescendo, we will settle into a calm symphony – a real sense of empowerment, where we don’t need to create brackets (under the comforting pretext of breaking them) for ourselves and debate ‘other body types’ to feel adequate. Women are not just all about that bass, our humps, fat-shaming or skinny bitches. Neither is fashion.
We are rightfully slamming the ‘double D-cup’ hip-hop anacondas and misogynistic objectification. But is the female gaze is the new male gaze? In a way, hasn’t it always been? Approval from women can also be tough. Right from scrutinising celebrity calves to glorifying the loss of post-pregnancy weight in record time, we are currently responsible for creating a skewed sense of goals and achievements amongst our kin, especially our young. Every form of media has jumped onto the body-wagon with rehashed conversations, trending hashtags and reflex shares. Size has become the flash USP for all kinds of consumerism; the cup brimmeth over and over. At this point, ‘feeling good in my skin’ is teetering on the edge of skin-deep.Acceptance, advice, empathy and warm, enveloping hugs from the internet (and real life) make it seem that we are taking our bodies as a ‘cause’ because we girls are always looking to fix things.
It has been a great pit-stop, but now fashion needs to move past this overstretched discussion and find new talking points. A break from body-talk will do us good; we can revisit after some time and space. I would like to see us equally celebrate parallel female icons for their design aesthetic, talent, creativity, originality, intelligence, artistic views, hard work and business acumen (not a lipstick line). In short, other kinds of achievements. Let’s accept this gospel truth – tags will always be there; as soon as the old ones go, new ones will take their place. The only way to defy them is through nonchalance, and by understanding that it’s all relative. We will be overweight for some, underweight for others, perfect for a few, shorter than most, taller than the rest. There will always be a new sexy, just as there will always be a new luxury car, or a covetable phone. Someone will always have longer legs, fuller breasts, a leaner waist, a curvier behind or (ahem) a more photogenic sideboob. But the timeless sexy is individuality. And that is the universe of the goddess (including Beyoncé), far beyond the realms of the body.
Sohiny Das is a fashion stylist, writer and consultant, with over a decade of experience in the design industry. Which is why she always comes with an opinion but tries to present an informed one.
**The views and opinions in this article belong to the writer and not necessarily are those of Runway Square.
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