Having worked in fashion-related businesses for more than a decade, I have had the opportunity to talk to many different women about clothes. But anytime you start talking about clothes, the conversation will almost immediately shift to talking about bodies. It’s not weird that this happens - clothes cover our bodies after all - but it is noticeable in the way that it happens. Noticeable because it is always negative: Covering up or hiding negative things about your body. What you “can’t wear”, what looks horrible on you...it just goes on and on. I witness this conversation over and over again, wanting to say something and defend the body being attacked, but never really sure where to step in. Being thin I sometimes feel like it would come across as judgmental, or that I “don’t get it,” although being thin doesn’t mean I escaped body image issues. I didn’t! I haven’t! Really, no one is spared in a culture that idealizes something that literally no one possesses: the perfect body. NO ONE is good enough in that race, and everyone gets hurt.
But as a seamstress I do have a bit more objectivity, I think. Measurements don’t have so much meaning embedded in them when you’re making something custom, because it’s not about the SIZE of the garment (most of us having strong feelings embedded in that number), it’s about the FIT. And everyone can have something made to fit them. No really, everyone. Because YOUR BODY ISN’T WEIRD. All bodies are different, and need to be fitted to showcase that beautiful, undeniable fact.
When it comes to making something custom there are no SHOULDS. Your hips shouldn’t be anything other than what they are. Neither should your breasts or your waist to hip ratio or anything at all! The problem is that when you buy something off the rack it is embedded with SHOULDS. You put something on that doesn’t fit and suddenly it’s your problem because YOUR BODY IS SO WEIRD. But no, the problem - the real problem - is the way fashion is mass produced. It’s an insane industry with epic amounts of waste, that relies on slave labor and over consumption. And even beyond that, companies are completely guessing (based on averages and statistics, but still) about the proportions and fit. That’s why some companies fit so differently than others. Some are better for straighter figures, some for curvier. But mass production limits how well you’re going to be able to get something to fit because it can only take into account so much variation. So if you have a very long waist, or a large hip to waist ratio, or are very tall or very short or plus size or whatever...it will be harder for you. But again, it’s not because your body is so weird. It’s because those clothes weren’t made for your body.
That might just seem like semantics, but it is not. It’s an important shift in the way we think about ourselves. Do we believe there is something wrong with us that we need to hide, minimize or cover up entirely? Or can we accept who we are right now, unconditionally, and feel confident and empowered in our bodies. What would that feel like?