Friday, June 24, 2016

No! ... Just No!!!

I am beyond angry...

Granted there are plenty of things on Facebook that tick me off every day, and usually I can take a deep breath and scroll past them, or click the little "hide" button and move on.

But today is not that day.  Maybe I just have too much time on my hands while my BFF is away on vacation. Maybe social media anger has just been building up and this is the last straw.  Whatever it is, I'm at the point of wanting to reach through my screen and shake someone until their ears bleed.

Yeah, I'm still a Christian... we're allowed to be angry if it's righteous indignation, and I think this qualifies.

What is ticking me off, you ask?  What could possibly be so horrific as to cause sweet, fun loving, me to finally flip her lid?

Calvin Klein just announced they have a new "Plus-sized" model.

Meet Myla Delbasio:    She's a size 10  

To be clear, I'm not angry at Ms. Delbasio.  She's beautiful and clearly deserves the job. I have no beef to pick with her and I'm excited that she landed a high profile job in her chosen career.  I'm even happy that she's advocating change in the modeling industry.  

I'm pissed at Calvin Klein (and any other company) that hires a woman who fits in their normal sized clothes, and calls them plus-sized. It's such an obnoxious double standard, and marketing folks should be ashamed.

According to Cosmopolitan, "In the fashion industry, 'plus size' is a term for models who are size 8 and up."

Why can the fashion industry call their models plus size when their clothing sizes are not. Most stores stock clothing in sizes up to a 16 regular. A few stores, like New York & Co, might go as high as an 18, but typically these clothes aren't really designed for the curves of a heavyset woman.  Plus size clothing typically starts at a 14W and goes upward.    Calvin Klein doesn't sell clothes larger than a size 16 regular. Their famous jeans only fit women up to a 32x32, a size I couldn't fit after the age of 20.

Here is a picture of me at size 14. This was the smallest size I've reached since I turned 20, and I was only able to maintain it for about 6 months, despite insane levels of food control. I'm not kidding. I wasn't allowed to eat raisins or peas or other perfectly healthy foods because I was trying to be thinner than my DNA allowed.

If plus size is a size 8 and up, why do I have to pay extra for my plus size clothes? Typically internet merchants start up charging for sizes larger than an XL or size 14 reg.  The up charge can be as low as $2, but regardless, why should I have to pay extra for a tiny bit of extra fabric.

I understand clothing construction, and the amount of fabric difference between a 16 reg and a 16 plus is not enough to warrant even a $2 up charge.  If it was, there would be a $2 price difference for every size.  The plain fact is, merchants charge more for women who are above average because they know we have no choice in the matter.  

Yes, the national average is size 16.  So merchants know that roughly half the adult female population won't fit in the "standard" size category.  It's just plain business sense to make them pay an extra $2 for every piece of clothing they purchase.

Not only is it frustrating to me and the rest of my above average size female friends, it sends a terrible message to girls everywhere.  They already learn at a very early age that fat is a bad word.  They already feel self conscious and awkward when they enter puberty.  The last thing they need is to flip through a magazine or come across an ad on the internet touting someone who is their size as "plus size."  

Shame on you Calvin Klein.  In a perfect free market system, my sisterhood of body positivity would boycott your butts to bankruptcy along with any other clothing designers who dared to call a below average size model "plus-size."  The reality is that the modeling industry should start calling anyone below a size 10 "minus size" anyone from a 12-18 "average size" and anyone over 18 "plus size."

And just to be clear, I'm not in the slightest saying that smaller women are somehow "less".  I don't advocate the ridiculous beauty war being waged amongst women.  Some of us are bigger than others, some of us have larger breasts, or a larger bust, or thighs thin enough to leave a space between them when standing.  We are different, period, but we still deserve to be treated with respect no matter how our DNA decides what our adult shape should be, and marketing companies need to stop pitting us against each other by blurring terms.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

School Dress Code vs Sexism

I've seen several similar posts on facebook recently championing the efforts of high school students trying to fight misogyny in their school dress codes.  If you haven't heard about it check this out. I've read the posts and I have to say I'm proud of the way these girls are handling this old sexist argument.

At the same time, however, I feel there is a necessary iteration of reality that needs to accompany this campaign.  Here is my response, and my message, to girls and schools and boys and feminists and pretty much anyone else who is willing to take a step back and look at this situation with wisdom and balance.  (note: if you're not willing to take a step back and consider a different point of view, please move along, I'm sure there are plenty of blogs out there that agree with you)

1)  Absolutely, absolutely I agree that the idea of telling girls they have to dress a certain way because they are a "distraction" to boys is wrong.  Boys will be boys, but that doesn't take away a girl's right to be a girl.  I think these girls are on the right track and I will champion their efforts to stamp out sexism.

I think school administrators need to re-think the way they handle dress code violations.  Telling a teenage girl she can't dress a certain way because boys will get distracted by how sexy she looks is the wrong way to approach this.  Boys know girls are sexy.  They have eyes.  The way a girl dresses should never give boys the right to objectify them.
2) Realistically, no matter how much we educate, train, or otherwise attempt to infuse character into our boys, they are going to see the sexuality of the female form.  It's in their DNA.  Does this give them the right to act on those impulses? No!  Does their chromosomal makeup somehow give them a free pass to objectify even the most scantily clad of women? No!

But there is some common sense to be had.  When I see a cute puppy I immediately am possessed with the desire to pet it.  Have I been taught not to touch someone else's dog without asking permission? Yes.  If I reach down to pet a puppy without asking and it bites me, I am the one to blame.  But I'm not just going to wake up one day and decide I hate puppies.

In the same way, boys find girls sexually attractive.  They may have the character to realize that they should wait until they are married to one girl before acting on those sexual impulses.  They may be taught by parents or school administrators that just because a girl is sexually appealing doesn't give them the right to act on their impulses.

3) What you wear in public defines you.  We can try to change this mindset, but it's been around forever and is deeply ingrained in our human makeup.  Hundreds of years ago society felt that it was wrong for a woman to uncover her legs.  There are rumors that during certain historical eras a woman could be arrested for showing her ankle in public.  Did that stamp out ankle baring?  No.  But anyone who saw a woman with bare ankles knew immediately that the woman was either a rebel, or a harlot (or both).  It really didn't matter if the woman saw herself as a rebel or a harlot.  Society chose to see her as such based on her reaction to the status quo.

You may not like society's determination of your personality based on your clothing choices, but they are there whether you like them or not.  You are free to fight against the current cultural stigma against certain clothing types, but you are not going to change everybody's mind.  If you want to fight this battle, you need to realize that it truly is a battle you are choosing.

You can wear denim underwear and a mesh top with a neon bra under it and walk around saying you are fighting the objectification of women and championing your rights as a feminist to wear what you want.  You have the freedom to do that.  I'm not going to take away that freedom.  But, when a misogynist approaches you and starts his feeble attempt to get lucky, you have to accept that your choice of attire sent him a culturally accepted message that you were open to his advances.  You can be offended by his actions, and you can decide in that moment to re-educate him, but unless you have some level of relationship with him, he's going to blow off everything that comes out of your mouth.

To reiterate with absolute clarity: what a person wears does not give anyone else the right to violate their personal boundaries.