I have news for you: size doesn’t matter—especially when it comes to fashion. Unfortunately, we are bombarded with starlets that glamorize and glorify unrealistic single-digit sizes and too many women think they must fit the Hollywood archetype, when in fact, these celebrities are mere microcosms of society—the exception, not the rule in the game of body image in fashion.
So, how can you defy the stigma and be comfortable with your body image? Educate yourself. Then you’ll realize that celebrities are the minority and everyday women are the majority.
According to Rader Eating Disorder Programs:
• Four out of five U.S. women are dissatisfied with their appearance;
• Following viewing images of female fashion models, seven out of ten women felt more depressed and angrier than prior to viewing the images;
• A study found that women overestimate the size of their hips by 16% and their waists by 25%, yet the same women were able to correctly estimate the width of a box;
• Twenty years ago the average fashion model weighed 8% less than the average woman. Today she weighs 23% less.
Yes, those statistics are staggering, but what’s more overwhelming is the displeasure many women have with their bodies. The true mark of a fashionista is being able to appreciate your body strengths and play them up, but also possessing the ability to recognize your weaknesses and play them down. Regina Hamilton said, “Our flaws are what make us beautiful. To be imperfect, is to be perfect.” And I truly believe that.
Below are a few tips to helping you achieve a favorable body image and dressing the body you have—not the one you wish you had:
• Find a “real” fashion icon. Sure, Victoria Beckham and Kate Moss epitomize the definition of chic, but they are toothpick thin. I recommend discovering the styles you like in the everyday women—Mom, big sis, an amazingly fashionable professor or supervisor—and showing the confidence they portray when it comes to fashion.
• Know that you are not alone. 50% of women wear size 14 or larger.
• Fit your body. No matter what size you wear, if your clothes fit, you’ll look like a million bucks. Clothes that are too big cover your figure and give you no shape—and they make you appear larger. Clothes that are too small make you look trashy and discontent with your actual body image. If you are a size 12 and you wish you were a size 2, buy the size 12 jeans and write a 2 on the tag with a Sharpie and walk out the door.
• Realize life is more important than fashion. Don’t let body image trends or fashion overwhelm your life. Read a book, join an organization on campus or form a study group. Then you’ll understand how much more there is to life than trying to fit into a pair of slacks that weren’t made for you.
And finally, take the approach Queen Latifah does: “For me, it might sound cliché, but beauty for me really does start on the inside. It's like a state of mind, a state of love if you will. Then, whatever you can do on the outside is all like a bonus.”