beautiful.

Recently, a blogger I greatly admire launched an inspiring project.  In a quest to end the all too common negative body image amongst women, she has created Operation Beautiful.  I encourage everyone to click over if you haven’t already; it will most definitely put a smile on your face.

This topic is one I am also passionate about.  

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About a year ago, I was working as a fashion assistant at a women’s magazine in Prague.  On one typically stressful afternoon, I stood in the closet, frantically gathering last minute accessories before the fitting for that month’s largest spread.  My boss (who I have to say, first and foremost, was one of the most genuine, nonjudgmental people I have ever met), was nonetheless extremely frazzled and tense.  We had been working long days leading up to this, fighting with shop owners and designers to secure the items we needed.  We went into the fitting with rattling nerves.

As I wheeled the first wardrobe rack into the editor-in-chief’s office, our fitting model stood up to greet us.  My boss turned to me with wide eyes.  “Oh no.  She’s going to be too fat.”

Shocked, I assured her everything would be fine and headed back to the closet to collect the rest of our collection.  I prayed the model hadn’t heard.

It turned out though, that it didn’t matter.  45 minutes later, my boss was in tears.  The editor-in-chief hadn’t yet approved a single look (we needed 14).  And my boss complained, “Nothing looks right on Eva.  Nothing fits.”  They sent the model home.  

I remained quiet, folding clothing, reattaching tags, rubbing the scuffs off shoes.  I almost missed the sentence my boss then uttered, which sent further shockwaves through me.

“I want to do the fitting on Leslie.”  

I froze.  What?  Me?  Being at least 5 inches too short to be model material, on top of a host of other reasons, I was terrified.  This gorgeous, 6 foot tall woman, with confidence ten times the strength of mine, had just lost a job for not being “thin enough.”  And the editors thought, of all people, I would be?

In journalism and in fashion, there isn’t much time to think.  Before I could process a quarter of what was happening, I found myself in the changing area, clutching the outfit I had helped put together for our model.

Inch by inch, I slid into the first pair of jeans.  I breathed a sigh of relief.  They fit.

As I stepped into view, the sun seemed to burn through the windows.  I felt hot; I was squinting; I couldn’t meet anyone’s eyes.  They looked me up and down.  They had me spin.  They whispered Czech phrases I could barely understand.

Fitting wasn’t enough.

An hour later, a new model had arrived.  I helped her into the jeans, and with the aid of a belt, they stayed up around her hips.  Baggy and shapeless, my boss proclaimed, “Beautiful.”

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I will always find fashion to be a wonderful form of self-expression and creativity.  But for a reason I cannot understand, most designers lost sight long ago of the chief inspiration behind their creations: the female body.  Stylists started conceiving looks on hangers instead of people, and slowly the bodies in magazines, on runways, and in city streets seemed to wither away.

Those jeans I tried on fit me just right.  They hugged each curve of my thighs, they sat comfortably around my hips.  My body was not, and never will be, a barely existent mystery beneath them.  It shouldn’t be.  I only wish every woman would believe the same.

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22 Comments

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22 responses to “beautiful.

  1. annaalstondonnelly

    Omg I loved this post! Thank you for writing it! I too am a great fashion lover and have a very hard time enjoying the most insightful and provocative magazines that really address fashion (Vogue, Elle, etc.) because they still subscribe to the “hanger” look. How am I supposed to understand fashion for real life if real people aren’t EVER featured?

    The ironic thing is, often, when magazines are trying to “give us real,” they will do plus size models. What would I give to see a size 8, 6, or even a 4 on the pages of Bazaar? SERIOUSLY.

    LOVING your blog.

  2. A

    Sniff sniff…. awe crap… I’m crying at work. You are SO RIGHT though!! I keep seeing operation beautiful posts all over the blog world lately. I’m inspired!!! 😉
    -A

  3. This post is so powerful and absolutely amazing. I love the message you are sending out.

    I still struggle with seeing fashion models and keeping a positive self body image. They all make me seem huge even though I’m not compared to the real world.

    Thank you so much for writing this!

  4. This is absolutely beautifully written. Thanks for sharing a part of your soul to us this way. I felt like I was reading a scene from a novel or movie. Seriously, thanks for sharing this!

  5. This post absolutely gave me chills….wow. You are such a wonderful writer and I am so glad you shared this story. You can bet that I will be linking back to this tonight!!!!!

  6. Isn’t that the sad truth? In the name of fashion, women have become secondary to the clothes, their health worthless. Its terrible. (Most) Models aren’t models of the human body – they are mere whispers, shadows. Thank you for sharing this…

    and I’m sure you looked amazing in the jeans.

  7. Pingback: Oh She Glows » Blog Archive » Back Eyed Peas: The Edible Kind

  8. Emma

    What an amazing post and as much as i love fashion and dedicate my life to it, I shall never understand the whole aspect of the size zero model. I believe society’s view of being thin is all wrong and this is why so many of us have ED’s. I shall definitly be adding you to my blogroll!
    Thank you! Emma x

  9. This is a truly special post. It echoes what Caitlin, Angela and others have been saying and truly hits home. Fashion is an artform, and look back to paintings in the Renaissance and before. The women were prized for their curves — because the female body is a beautiful thing! Only in the 60s with Twiggy and more and then the Calvin Klein heroine look in the 90s has it changed – and I think it is due time we as readers and observers and as HEALTHY WOMEN make it known that that is not the image we see as beautifuk. Fabulous post lady!

  10. Bridget

    What a beautiful post. Thank you!

  11. What an eye opening post! Thank you so much for writing it.

    I am in the same industry–fashion–and I agree it is very hard not to get caught up with the medias view of “beautiful.” I am starting graduate school in the fall–concentrating on trend forecasting. I will keep reading your blog, to help me not get off track.

    🙂

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  13. Very true. I embrace my curves!

  14. what a beautiful post! love it 🙂 you’re gorgeous girl!

  15. Hey, I just found your blog through a link on Oh she glows– this post is amazing!

    Thanks for sharing this story, I can’t wait to read more of your writing!

    Megan

  16. Gorgeous writing. I love this story and the fact you shared it. You are beautiful. Inside and out.

  17. rediscoveringlauren

    wow, really powerful post! thanks for sharing that story 🙂 it ws really eye opening!
    and you ARE beautiful inside and out, never let anyone convince you otherwise!

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  19. AGS

    Wow. Great post. I’ve thought the same thing countless times. . . fashion is wonderful, but isn’t the human body the inspiration?

  20. I just found your blog from Angela’s.

    What an amazingly powerful and well written post. I cannot even imagine the fear that caused.

    Glad to have found you and excited to keep reading!

    Happiness Awaits

  21. beautiful post. i loved every word.

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