Throughout my entire life, fashion has been about skinny people.
Sure, it’s also been about flawless skin (which has 97% of the time been white), and about being tall, but mostly it’s been about being seriously slim.
In a way, which, even with a healthy doctor-recommended diet, doesn’t come naturally to most. Is the product of starvation and unhealthy obsessions with exercise and of being constantly just a little bit hungry.
There’s been dabbles with ‘real girls’ and plus-size models in campaigns over the years – probably mostly for the publicity that they bring, but nothing has stuck and nothing has really changed, and at the end of the day, most non-sample size girls are still having teary breakdowns in changing rooms across the country every single blasted day.
BECAUSE WHY WON’T THIS FIT AND WHY DO I HAVE SO MANY ROLLS.
I remember my first OMFG I’M SO FAT AND HIDEOUS AND NO-ONE PLZ LOOK AT ME AGAIN BECAUSE I MIGHT BREAK YOUR EYES changing room cry. I was 15, a size ten and trying on something neon and lacy in the Brighton branch of River Island.
I probably went away and did a couple of days of my usual fuck, I’m fat diet that was popular amongst my high school gal pals and I – y’know the one where you decided the only way to look like Britney Spears and the girl on the Tophop store poster and the cute pixies sauntering through Glamour magazine was to just eat nothing. Nothing, cept maybe an apple and a cuppa soup.
Then you’d crash back to reality with a hearty portion of Spag Bol and a few biscuits until a week later when you’d be back on the starvation diet.
Sometimes I still have those days where I want to be totally irrational and irresponsible and just starve myself a bit and see what happens.
It feels that although in the last few years we’ve seen hundreds of girls across the world build new media brands that can sell and promote and talk about and parade in clothes better than most of the magazines out there, we still haven’t managed to change the body of fashion.
Y’see, I tried to play a game in my head over the weekend. I game where I counted the amount of UK-based top-of-their-game fashion bloggers above a size 8.
Go on, give it a go.
I’m talking the gals with 6 figure Instagram followers, the gals raking in thousands from brand campaigns – not just the kind of girls, maybe myself included, who run successful blogs that dabble in fashion as well as other things. I’m talking flat-out fashion bloggers that every one of us has on our Insta follow list.
There’s kinda not many. Or maybe any.
The industry that was built on ‘being normal’, suddenly doesn’t feel so normal anymore, does it? Because although there is a percentage of girls who are naturally slim, there’s also a large percentage who wear bigger clothes sizes. Let’s just remember the UK average is a 16, and not a 6.
The blogging world feels crammed with slim girls parading in clothes like off-duty models being street snapped for women’s magazines like it’s the nineties. It feels like we’ve come miles, and yet here, in this little snippet of life that is body image and the way we perceive beauty, nothing has changed at all.
Some girls are natural size sixes and some some girls are natural fourteens, and it should be this multitude of sizes that we’re blasted with every day, rather than just one size.
I’ll be honest – I dont tend to read the comments on my outfit posts because there’s always, ALWAYS at least one randomer who feels the need to call me out on my weight.
Like oh what, I don’t look like I should be on a LFW catwalk this season? Huge fucking news to me.
And I’m sick of it. I’m sick of fat-shaming people who love fashion, who love clothes, who love being a girl and y’know what? Also kinda like food.
I’m not a pig, I don’t sit around all day in my pants peeling stuck Cheetos off my thighs and ordering kebabs and chips and dreamy onion ring sides to my house for lunch (although I did this once for my 21st birthday and it was INCREDO).
I eat like you, but my genetics (and binge eating past) mean that I’m not picture-perfect slim, and I won’t ever be, unless I go on some dramatic, unhealthy crash diet that involves a lot of starvation.
I’m not denying that some bloggers and some of you guys are naturally slim and that in itself probably comes with a whole tyrade of problems, but I’ve been to enough blogger events now to also know that a lot of the girls you follow on Instagram aren’t naturally eeny weeny. A lot of them pick through breakfasts or order salads off menu or only stick to water because guess what? They don’t feel like they can be a success in this giant whirwind of an internet content pretty photos fashion clothes industry unless they weigh 8 stone.
And the truth? They probably won’t.
Sadly, we still seem stuck in this idea of fashion being aspirational over real. We still fantasise over outfits both on Pinterest and Instagram, because we’re obsessed over the way it hangs so daintly on frames that look no-where like our own, rather than because the outfit is actually ground-breaking.
In fact, I betcha if you saw half the outfits you pine over online – the slouchy striped tees and boyfriend jeans and biker jackets and dainty gold jewellery and crossbody bags – on real people in the street, you probably wouldn’t bat an eye.
We are more into the idea of looking as slim as the person in the photo than wearing her outfit and I feel like we don’t even realise it.
We live to stare at pretty, skinny girls who stand as symbols of who we could be if we just trained a little harder, spent a little longer on our hair, had slightly better make-up and ate a little less. We don’t want to look at people who look like us on an average day.
I saw a TV advert the other day and there were four girls all of different sizes strutting about together and I thought YES, THIS.
It was for Simply Be. Simply flippin’ Be. I’ve got nothing against the brand, it has some incredible pieces, but it’s not got a cool reputation amongst young women and although it ‘caters for all sizes’, it actually starts at a 12 which automatically excludes smaller sizes.
Where’s the fun TV ad for Topshop, ASOS, Boohoo and New Look with the size 6 girl, the size 10 girl, the size 14 and the 18?
I’m fed up of feeling like I don’t belong in fashion because if I go to an afternoon tea, get this, I’ll actually sample a bit of everything rather than just Instagram a flat lay and pretend I’ve munched my way through it.
I fear that my size and my shape will hold me back professionally – that I will not get the same campaigns and colloaborations with bigger brands as my equal but slimmer blogger might because I will not look as magazine-perfect.
I’ve been lucky to work with some great brands – Joules, Kaleidoscope, Daniel Wellington, Beyond Retro – and I’ve no doubt that these sort of offers will continue to come in.
But it won’t ever be for the hippest of trend-focused brands, the ones every 21 year old pines over and empties her bank account for on a Friday, desperate for something sassy to wear out-out on the Saturday night.
Because what’s aesthetically aspirational about a 5ft 2 size 12-14 gal with ever-growing thighs? RIGHT, RIGHT?
Fashion will, whether we like it or not, always be about the aspirational goal rather than the actual what would this look like on me? It is about how we could be rather than about who the average girl is.
And on that note, before this turns into a 500 page novel, I’m off to eat leftover birthday cheese and plan my world domination of the lifestyle sector.
Ain’t gotta be a skinny lass to write viral lists or create homeware edits. Now picture me just placing 4732562758 nail painting emojis here.
CHUBBY GALS FO DA WIN.
(On a serious note: I’m actually off to pick an award-winning Mykonos capsule wardrobe that I’ll bombard you all with on Instagram – I can’t help it, I hate the fashion industry like I hate Ginny Weasley in the films, but I just bloody love clothes. Bleurgh.)