I am a fan of Project Runway, though I have no real concept of the fashion world – in fact I think people are pretty crazy (and I’m not the only one). For some reason watching the challenges every week and the same sort of in-fighting that you see on America’s Next Top Model (and don’t get me started on Bianca’s mistreatment of Heather), but between people who clearly have some sort of talent and creativity for something makes me feel slightly less bad about myself for watching it.
And then there was this week on Project Runway Canada. The challenge was to base their designs on a theme of different classic time-periods in fashion, the designs being bathing suits – one for their regular, model-sized model and one for what the world calls a “plus-sized” model, that being a normal-sized woman.
I was shocked that most of the designers on the show had no concept of how to make a normal woman look attractive. Not only that, they made them look fat and dumpy in some cases, and complained the whole time about not knowing how to fit a plus-sized model and why did they have to do this.
I am amazed that any young designer thinks they can survive in the industry without having a product that will sell to women that make up the overwhelming majority of the market. In some cases, they almost seemed disgusted with even the thought of having to fit a normal, healthy body (not that no model is healthy, I know that’s not true – but I think back to TLC’s ‘A Model Life,’ where they actually evaluated the health of each of the models present, and the most unhealthy one was the one the agency liked the most, and the only one who’s weight suited her height was the one the agency told that she wasn’t going on any castings until she lost weight).
I am glad that I am the kind of women who can watch this type of show and get mad about the mis-representations. When I was 19 and working as a coop student in the university athletics department, one of the male athletes complained that girls are never comfortable with their bodies – I raised my hand and said that I was – I saw no reason not to be. I love my height, my weight is what I make it, I have great legs, nice hands and I’m fairly proportional. I know that I can dress it to make it look better, and that I don’t always do that.
I also know that I am the exception and not the rule, and that sometimes I am only telling myself that I’m comfortable in my skin, when I’m actually not at all. When I was diagnosed with poly-cystic ovarian syndrome three years ago and told that the only way to get it under control (and avoid a future of infertility and cancer) I had to lose weight and get my hormones under control – and I tried and nothing was working, because, through some horrible irony, PCOS makes it much more difficult to lose weight, and my endocrinologist kept testing my blood and telling me I had to lose weight – that was when my body image went down the tubes. My body was telling me that my body was a problem.
When I finally listened (really listened) to what my GP was telling me about weight loss, and when I finally told myself the truth about what I was actually doing, that’s when the weight started to come off, and my body image started to come back.