Ideal Body Type in 18 Countries

If you haven’t seen the article from the Huffington Post on What The ‘Ideal’ Woman Looks in 18 Countries, you need to seriously take a look! What an eye opener, and frankly, a little creepy in the photoshopped images, but hey, the general idea of asking designers to create what they think is the ideal form of a woman’s body in various cultures around the world was there.

Some images and their corresponding country/culture surprised me while others I wasn’t surprised. China was spot-on with the heavy influence of Asian femininity and anime-like features. Italy’s woman looks exactly like what Western women are subjected to see on every cover of every magazine. Ugh.

But Peru, Columbia and Spain really surprised me. They look like real bodies, shapes and textures I recognize. No airbrushing or twiggy arms or a large gap between crotch and thighs. These images of women tell me they have cellulite, their thighs rub together and they are curvy, but REAL.

It made me feel better about myself today, knowing that I’m not crazy for thinking I’m the abnormal one.

And throughout history, it’s been more normal to be “plus size” than not. It’s the last 40 years of American (western) culture that tells women to be a certain type that very few can actually be — take a look:

Bam. Take that fashion world.

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A Miserable Person

If I listened to society and others, I would be a miserable person. When people marvel at how well I dress, I have to laugh because in this day and age, with all of social media, you still think a fat women cannot dress well. – http://www.ivoryjinelle.com

Powerful words right there people. I bring this amazing blogger’s statement up because a girlfriend’s photo showed up in my Facebook feed that made me want to roll my eyes. This friend of mine used to be a larger girl and decided for herself to have a weight-loss procedure. Post-surgery was rough with taking care of her two-daughters but now 1.5 years later she is a size 8 and I really do think she’s happy with herself because she now posts full-length body shots of herself trying on different outfits. Pre-surgery she rarely posted photos of herself, mainly of her adorable girls. If there was a photo of her it was simply shoulders-up selfies and the like. Her confidence obviously came with the weight loss and she admitted online she feels prettier and happier with her body now.

If I had to pin point her behavior pre-surgery, I’d call it shame.  Shame is the result of listening to society telling you what you aren’t, that you failed and you aren’t worth it. And bam, I am right there — that’s me! I don’t like photos being taken of me, I rarely am ever happy with my image — I don’t consider myself photogenic AT ALL and I generally don’t like people seeing me when I know I look terrible, and fat. Fat. Ugh.

And then it hit me, I am already that miserable person. I want to have that confidence to not care what others think. To not care about wearing horizontal stripes because at the age of 12 my mom told me to never wear stripes because they’d just make me look wider, a.k.a. fatter. I know I could dress better, be like Ms. Jinelle and throw caution to the wind.

I think my journey starts at the source of my shame: not liking myself because society doesn’t like me.

My hubby tells me all that matters is he likes me and my kids like me, so why should I give a care what other people think? And it’s so hard, as women it’s ingrained in our brain to care, we have to please and be pleasing. Ugh again. I want the freedom to express who I am, easy to do inwardly, but to show it on the outside  — what others see, it’s a tall order for me.

Can I get past the shame, can I celebrate the way my body is RIGHT NOW? The way that it is today? No diets, no surgery? Can I be happy with who I am at this moment, instead of wishing 100 pounds would magically melt off my body?

I surely can’t be the only one who has thought these inner thoughts.

The next time I take a selfie, how long will I move my head around to get the most flattering angle? Will I only show chest up in the frame? Will I be brave to show all of me?

What I saw in that friend of mine and wanting to judge her after my initial reaction to her photo of her too-happy poses in the Forever 21 dressing room stall, was really an internal battle of my own. Recognizing I have a bigger problem with my size than I thought I had. They say the first step to recovery is realizing you have a problem in the first place.

Shame is the first dragon I have to slay. I guess this blog has shifted to a new purpose. It has become the means of starting a new chapter, a new journey. Setting up little goals and achieving them one by one.

Step one: Lose the shame.

Skinny Shaming & Fat Shaming

I’m using some material from the response I had to FaturdayNightLive’s post for this blog post… I think it’s important to start with a disclaimer that I had an empowering weekend with my hubby and we sent all three of our kids to hang out with my parents for a full 24 hours. We have an awesome time, just the two of us and I got a makeover complete with false eyelashes and I felt like a movie star. It was a good feeling that at least lasted until midnight when I had to take the eyelashes off to sleep.

Ok, back to the topic of skinny shaming and how it relates to fat shaming. I think that we all think that we think too much.

On a more serious note, I have a feeling that the majority of us plus-size ladies have battled with our weight and self-image for so long it becomes hard for us to emphasize with women who, to us, seem like they shouldn’t have a worry in the world. They after all have a cute figure, aren’t feeling shame every time they walk into a store only to walk out with nothing because nothing came in their size.  I don’t think I’ve specifically skinny-shamed anyone, at least not out loud, outside my head. I know I have voiced my frustrations in my personal journal and will be using my blog as an outlet as well.

What happens is that skinny women think their body image is just as hard to accept as a plus size woman would accept their own body image. And that’s where the beef is because the majority of our society already accepts skinny, thin, what-have-you, bodies as that is what is considered already beautiful in our culture. A busty size 20 is not. There are a few (my hubby among them) that find women with more curves more attractive. That’s the battle we have, having to live/accept what society tells and how we feel about our own bodies at the same time, whether we are skinny or fat.

I don’t like bringing up race much, actually hardly ever, but the expectation to be thin and white is pervasive in our culture; beauty on the magazine covers are only proof that this stereotype is carried on generation after generation. I think another race that has it worse than Caucasian women are those of Asian descent, where it is expected of you to be petite, thin, young and often, submissive. My sister-in-laws are half Korean and we were talking about this not too long ago — this overwhelming expectation that they have to be tiny to be attractive. Their mother herself is 4’11” and barely 90 pounds and has the same figure now as when she met my hubby’s father.

Culture has such a huge impact on women, what it asks women to be in order to be attractive, pleasing to the eye and often, worthy of fashion. Of course, I think fashion has come a long way in just the past decade but we still have a long way to go when there are some of us that don’t wear the same size as the mannequin on display, we have real bodies that are all sorts of shapes and sizes. It’s still not mainstream yet for plus-size clothing to be normal; that all sizes would be available instead of 0-10. Sometimes if you’re lucky, a store will have size 16 tops that are loose enough that a size 18 or 20 can still wear.

The plus size section is still minimal selection in many stores, whereas smaller sizes can find fashion easily in just about any store and have hardly any issues finding something in their size. Try going wedding dress shopping as a plus-size woman, and you’ll immediately see the huge disparity in fashion availability, even for the brides with a healthy dress budget. I was almost brought to tears when I was trying on dresses for my wedding and the gowns wouldn’t zip up for me to see the true fit.

I’ve been fat shamed so many times in my life, I’ve lost count. Whether it’s your own mother trying to get you to lose weight at 7 years old or that drunk boy during college spring break tell you at 19 there’s no way in hell he’d sleep with you because you’re fat, it hurts. Wishing every day that it would get easier somehow to not give in to cravings for whatever sounds good and then people telling you that it’s simple as will-power and exercising all day. The worse is when your own mother couldn’t tell you looked beautiful on your wedding day. Instead, she reminds you to keep your veil around your shoulders so that your fat arms are more covered.

After 33 years on this planet, I’m trying to find the balance of when do I accept myself, or will I just cave in to what society wants, what will make me feel more attractive — get that lipo, go for the lap-band surgery or staple the stomach, get a tummy tuck? Paint it over with some fancy make-up and put on pair of heels and classy outfit, and now the world will embrace you? If I do lose a bunch of weight, how will that change me as a person — will I be just as happy then as I am now? Is the grass truly greener on the other side?

So in the end, is the shaming just really our way of justifying that we either fit or don’t fit in? Do we hurl words at the other side, hoping that it will make us feel better about ourselves, when in the end we are just being adult bullies? Skinny or fat, we are just people. Imperfect people trying to fit this idea of what is perfect to society. It is unattainable, ever out of our grasp, yet we are desperate enough to berate other people to maybe for a moment, feel beautiful ourselves, to be above others.

Shaming others really accomplishes nothing but creating more shame in ourselves.

H&M Replies – Not Good Enough

Literally going to copy and paste the response I got from my email complaint (see previous blog) to H&M for having one of the most pathetic plus-size sections in a large chain store I’ve seen in a L-O-N-G time:

Hello,

Thanks for reaching out to us.

I’m sorry that our new store in Anchorage, Alaska didn’t have what you’re looking for. We’re always accepting feedback to try to help make your shopping experience more enjoyable. The products and categories in-store can always change based on the demand, but it can take time.

Please see our H&M+ section online. Perhaps you can use the selection in-store to find out what sizes fit you best for different styles. This way you can browse our online plus size items and better select your fit. 

We will continue to grow and expand H&M+ online and in-stores! Please let us know if you have any further questions or concerns.

Best Wishes, 

Susie

H&M Customer Service

Well, thanks for nothing — the point is I want to see the clothes IN THE STORE, not on your frickin’ website. I came in person to your store to physically touch and try on clothes. But nope, if I only saw one shirt that might fit and maybe two bottoms I could possibly try on, what is the point?

H&M is so proud they offer plus size clothing but they get a big F from me for failing to provide the products in-store. Why does H&M provide almost an entire floor of their store to sizes 0-12, but only a tiny corner with 4 racks and a partial wall dedicated to sizes 14-24?

Ugh.

Maybe I’m just being a 33-year-old brat. Or am I fighting an uphill battle?

Open Letter to H&M – #plussizefashion

I visited your store last night at your newly opened store in Anchorage, Alaska and saw the plus size “section.” This “section” was literally about 4 racks and half a wall. The selection for size 14+ women’s clothing is honestly appalling and compared to the rest of the women’s fashion section of the store, that plus size “section” only represented about 5% of the inventory. On top of that, the section wasn’t even labeled and I had to hunt around the store to find anything in my size. Very disappointed in H&M. Maybe explain to your corporate people that I am 33 years old, my household income is $150K+ a year, I have two teenagers and a toddler and they are losing out on customers like me that enjoy fashion and can’t fit into a size 2. I walked out of that store with nothing for myself. I am a professional in the public relations and marketing fields and truly was shocked last night how far behind H&M is in providing ALL customers of ALL sizes fashion choices in their most recently opened store.

Get with it H&M. Larger girls have money to spend and love fashion too.

I noticed the mall that hosts your store had a new release: DIMOND CENTER – H&M and they mention a plus-size “line.” What a joke! Shame on you H&M for bringing that amount of hype. The kind of hype that felt a little like last week’s Amazon’s #PrimeDay that was a total failure.

According to this article last year:

“…the average American woman is 25 pounds heavier than she was in 1960. However, the plus-size clothing market still only accounts for 9% of the $190 billion spent on clothes annually in the United States. This means major retailers are leaving a lot of money on the table.”

Do you even want our business? Did your company not learn from your faux pas last year on using medium-sized models in their plus-size advertising either?

Some Twitter users like @readytostare in Toronto have reported their local H&M store had a selection in their plus-size store. Maybe my Canadian neighbors have it better at their local H&M. Maybe they complained about it to that particular store’s management. What does Alaska have to do to get more than 4 racks of plus-size clothing in the Anchorage store?

I did contact your customer service folks via chat on the H&M website. Their answer was simply sorry, you can’t call the store directly but you can 1) complain in person; 2) email the general customer service email or 3) call our general customer service number. I’m doing all three and then some on social media.

There’s a lot of us plus-sized ladies ready to purchase if the goods are there H&M. Some of us are professionals, some stay-at-home moms, some of us are young or young-at-heart, and we carry our purses in hopes that when a store claims to carry plus-sized clothing that they deliver with just as much inventory as other sections in the same store.

Some of us are now simply are tired of feeling ashamed when we walk into a major retailer and there’s NOTHING, nothing, nothing, in our size.

It’s 2015 H&M, time to make your fashion more accessible to all sizes.

Sincerely,

That One Chubby Lady in Anchorage