I’ve talked a bit about my own body issues here over the years. There was this post about the ‘flap‘ that appeared after my c-section, there was the episode with Beyonce at H&M, and then there was my fitness journey with Amanda — where I traded decorating services for personal training. I worked out with Amanda for two years and lost almost 30 lbs. It felt amazing but it was crazy hard work. Then last November I quit my regular work-out routine, and since then I’ve gained a lot of that weight back. Despite all of that, most days I feel pretty good about my body in the grand scheme of things–it’s far from perfect, but it’s mine, and I gotta werk what I got. But then, something like this happens:
I have a very big photoshoot coming up (it’s in a few hours, actually!). I’m going to be photographed for the cover of one of my very favorite magazines (I know, it’s bananas…). I went to one of our biggest L.A. malls, The Grove, to find some outfit options for the shoot. At the Grove they have all of the usual suspects: the Madewells, the Zaras, the Anthros, Barney’s etc. When I got there I was in a great mood, still pretty giddy about the whole situation–it’s a pivotal moment in my career for sure. After wandering the mall for two and a half hours, searching through dozens of shops, and trying on about fifteen dresses, I went back to my car and had a good cry. Was I PMSsing? Yes. But still. This was not cool. NOTHING FIT ME. And then my self-pity descended into anger.
The average woman’s body size in the US is between a 12 and a 14. I wear between a 12 and a 14 so why can’t I fit into any of the clothing? If a size 12/14 is the average size, then why is it the largest size carried at most stores?
I got stuck in a dress I tried on at Anthro and thought I might have to rip the damned thing to get it off of me. I tried on four dresses at Barney’s and when I couldn’t get three of them down over my shoulders (or up over my hips for that matter) the (very sweet) sales associate told me that the largest size at Barney’s is a size 10. WTF. No seriously. WTF Barney’s??!? Just when I’m finally at the point in my career where I could potentially even afford an amazing dress from Barney’s, they don’t fit. It’s a real bummer and needless to say, the whole situation was making me feel less than confident about my cover girl moment.
When I finally got home there was an email waiting for me from the magazine editor letting me know that they had hired a wardrobe stylist for the shoot. I laughed out loud when I read the email, and felt a huge sense of relief that I wouldn’t have to think about it anymore.
I’m gonna finish off this rant with this thought — and it’s not about me, my body issues or even Barneys’ ridiculous sizing — it’s about my Ida. I fear for her and for my nieces, and for all of our daughters. I want them to grow up in an environment where diversity is embraced and celebrated. I don’t want Ida to grow up to feel like she needs to fit into a certain size, be a certain shape or color, look a certain way, or succumb to any single, narrow, ideal of beauty. All of these shops — where the mannequins look the same, the models look the same, the clothes go up to an arbitrary size — it’s all bull shit. And if can can affect me to the point of tears — a strong 37 year old woman, with a loving husband and great career — I can only imagine the affect that it’s having on our girls, our pre-teens, our teen agers, and our young women. How can we protect them from this? It’s insidious, it’s unhealthy, it’s ugly, and it needs to stop. What can we do to change this paradigm? Hopefully, seeing more women on the cover of magazines that don’t fit into the clothing at Barney’s is a good first step. ;)
*Photograph By Dabito
**I’m wearing a vintage dress that’s my backup if nothing fits me at the shoot tomorrow!
***Find me on snapchat to get behind the scenes peeks at our cover shoot — I’m @JustinaBlakeney over there.