fashion: bad at doing it, good at loving it – part six

Birchbox Travel

Birchbox Travel (Photo credit: donireewalker)

Lately I have been thinking to myself that I should switch from being a book blogger to a fashion and beauty blogger, just to get some cooler different swag.

(I mostly kid. Please do not stop sending me book swag. I love the books. Forever. I might not have room for them in my apartment anymore, but they can share my bed.)

I would probably not be the best beauty or fashion blogger because, unlike when it comes to literature, I don’t have any specialized or advanced knowledge of this stuff. I recently started consistently wearing mascara. Sometimes I put on my primer and powder, too. For years, I was just an obsessive moisturizer and lip glosser. So this growing up, beauty-wise, is a big deal, friends. Anyway. I am trying to learn more about it (please read other of my blog entries to learn my general philosophy on fashion and beauty culture, the patriarchy, etc), because it’s high time I owned less clothing and beauty stuff but liked it more, looked better in it, and felt more confident in it. So I read magazines and blogs and sign up for things like Birchbox in order to get to that point where I have a general idea of what I’m doing.

Bookish people still have physical embodiments of their bookishness that needs to look presentable, and also, some of us, at least, happen to like the fun that comes with looking presentable, as blogs like Librarian Wardrobe will attest. This is why I have an entire Pinterest page dedicated to bookish, smartgirl, quirky clothing that I would love to have in my wardrobe in lieu of the things I have left over from college and 25 pounds ago.

But what happens is that I happen to have a combination of qualities that fashion and beauty magazines and companies seem to hate. They might claim they don’t, but they hate by omission, lack of cultural competence, and ignorance. These qualities include not being able to buy clothing items that have prices with three digits before the decimal; having skin that is brown; having skin that is different shades of brown depending on how much sun is out; having been properly sized into a real bra and having that bra be larger than a C (one of many people weighing in on this who aren’t me), thus meaning that I will never walk around braless and it’s simply not an option to wear those silly “backless bras” and other ridiculous contraptions that can’t possibly do real things; and having about ten inches between my waist and hip measurements (see: 25 pounds ago; today, it’s more like 6 inches, but still). So in the sense that I am very aware of these things, and in that I am well versed enough in sociology to know how problematic this is, I could say I am some sort of “expert” in fashion and beauty when it comes to these issues, inasmuch as I am a good judge of what sucks and what is wrong or a problem about a product.

I have issues with the following, and I want things that solve them and people to stop perpetuating them:

  • The conflating of the terms “curvy” and “plus-sized.” I would say the whole apple, pear, hourglass thing when it comes to body shapes is a pretty decent way of judging whether something will be flattering. But you can be any of those things regardless of whether you are a size 2, 10, or 18. When I see “curvy” on a clothing site, I click on it, expecting to see that a designer has finally taken into account that some of us have hips and butts. And then I find that the clothes there are 12 sizes too big. Like I’ve said elsewhere, one should use words correctly whenever possible.
  • Magazines pretending that they understand by saying “available in large bust sizes” and following that with “up to DD.” Just. Nope. Essentially all lingerie companies go up to these sizes because they are (see: link in paragraph above) what are considered the only bra sizes in existence. They’re not. Not only do more women wear above a DD than you’d think, but when you wear a bra in a larger size that fits you better, you actually look smaller and less like you can’t dress yourself, because everyone looks better when their breasts are not cut into tiny pieces and shoved into contraptions that don’t fit.
  • Two to four categories of skin color in a magazine beauty section that all boil down to “white people,” followed by one category called “dark” that fits in anyone who is Corinne Bailey Rae to Alek Wek. If you cannot see that there are tons of shades in between those ladies that deserve their own categories like your precious “porcelain,” “ivory,” “olive,” and “tan,” you need to get your eyes checked. And if you think that those two girls are the same, well, you’re delusional. If different sorts of white folks have different undertones to their skin that leads to different recommended makeup styles, how can you not understand that different types of brown and black people might also?
  • Crewnecks. I admit that this is personal, but it also goes back to big busts, which look disproportionate and cray cray in crewnecks. I want some basic shirts in boat, scoop, and square, pretty please. (By the way, I think this guide is pretty great.)
  • Designers assuming that you can’t possibly have large breasts and still have a discernable waist. I understand that you cannot make all things in all possible iterations and still make money, but it has got to be possible, especially for mainstream department store-style retailers who make their money from the common people who tend to have at least one of the symptoms of fashion unhappiness that I have listed, to make some garments that take into account the fact that some of us have boobs and waists. Basically, I look like I’m trying to be Pamela Anderson if I wear a shirt that fits the size of my waist and ribcage, but if I fit something to my breasts, I have to go from my usual size small or medium to a large or extra large just to get it to fit them. And then I look boxy or like I’ve gained 40 pounds, and I don’t want to gain any more weight than I already have, thanks.

Thoughts, fashion and beauty folks?


2 thoughts on “fashion: bad at doing it, good at loving it – part six

  1. I love this post! I agree with all your points. I was looking for a new tinted moisturizer at Sephora last week and was a bit annoyed that a certain brand didn’t go light enough. I’m quite fair and quite often the lightest shade is too dark to me. Then I noticed exactly what you said about a dozen white shades and one dark shade. I even remarked to a friend like where are all the dark shades? It’s so ridiculous.

    • In a sense it’s completely fair that nobody notices, because you’ve been socialized to think it’s normal. But yes, it’s crazy. And that is one place where actually the more mainstream places like Target and CVS have more options, because companies like Loreal and Maybelline have started to realize that there are closer to 50 shades of human skin than 5.

      Thank you for reading!

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