G.M. Cairney pointed out a set of photos at Time that highlights the scrutiny women’s bodies are under, the expectation that we constantly work to make our bodies look smaller, and a general cultural fat phobia, while making me wonder, again, why does this merit a slideshow? The article (which features only women) focuses on celebrities’ outfits at the Golden Globes on Sunday and makes it very clear what the main criterion for success is: could it possibly, in any way, from any angle, make these celebrities, most of whom are tiny, look even slightly larger than they are?
Here’s one of the offending garments, on Jennifer Lopez:
I don’t know that I particularly like the dress, but does it make her look fat? The author assures us, though, that this is a disaster: “White is a fright on an ample derriere, or on anyone who is not a size 0.” That’s right: if you’re over a size 0, the entire color white is off-limits to you.
Christina Aguilera’s dress commits the sin of making her look “buxom” and “hippy,” and she is rather oddly compared to Mae West as though that’s a bad thing:
Jennifer Love Hewitt’s dress is described as a “high-calorie confection,” reinforcing the association with fat.
All of these criticisms rest on the central assumption that there is an ideal body type that we should all be aspiring to, and that the role of fashion is to “camouflage” any areas that don’t conform. Any outfit that doesn’t do this has, by definition, failed, no matter how it actually looks on the person. Yes, the specific dress is supposed to be unique, individual, unlike anything else there, but the body inside it isn’t.
As Lisa once asked, wouldn’t it be something if instead we thought the point of fashion was to emphasize whatever shape we have, to make our bodies look different from one another? Crazy thought, I know.