Friday, 23 July 2010
A weighty issue...
One would expect weight to be a different kind of issue for afficianados of vintage style. Anyone who peruses the fashion plates and photographs of the past can see that the female form has always been a movable feast. It moves from the rubenesque Edwardians, to the masculine twenties through athleticism, rationed spareness and thence back to the rounded pneumatic fifties. But that is only half the story because during these eras women of all shapes adapted. Flappers bound their bosoms,
Hollywood idols padded their shoulders and teenagers wasped their waists. As many of us are retro-magpies and share the same disposition to physical variety as our ancestresses we should surely be more appreciative and less judgemental than those who don't share our affection for the past. However having read some of the heated exchanges on other blogs concerning dieting, the shapes of celebrities and bariatric surgery I am not sure.
I should declare myself here, I am not thin but then again nor am I fat. I rest in that average hinterland of a
size 12-14 so I have no real axe to grind except for preference, I would hate to be a size 6 or without my decolletage. However I know that it is usual for women to have thighs that touch, to have a far higher level of body fat than men, to have a small yet prominent tummy and to need to store that fat as efficiently and quickly as possible. It is one of the factors that contributes to our longer life expectancy compared to the gents. I also know that there is nothing wrong with being naturally thin, but that it is, like being rotund, the far end of a spectrum. A variation just like being very tall or very short. But what I think has happened is that thin has been adopted as a norm by many women. Its equivalent at the other end, fatness is no less appropriate but is now regarded as abnormal. UK
At the weekend I heard a group of (admittedly very young) vintage chaps make negative comments about curvy ladies whilst their badly dressed girlfriends looked thin and ill. There are women who would, with an extra stone or so be transformed for the better in the same way that I might look better a stone lighter or not. But it is, quite correctly, not said to them or about them. I don’t berate the very thin with their reluctance to eat pies, because this would be ignorant and I would have no cognisance of that persons life. Many of my thin vintage friends are beautiful as are my curvaceous ones. My personal opinion is that certain retro styles, like anything else, look better on certain forms or have to be adapted by people with different figures. However my personal opinion is that the thin need fitted clothes, there are loads of girls in big loose tea dresses looking like scrawny orphans. Not the look a thirties or forties lady was really aiming at. It always seems to me that the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s fashions give the larger lady an edge. Gowns with gathers, embellishment and movement sit better on hips and boobs. Having said that none of it works without a waist (off I go again!).
Ultimately however the fact of the matter is that by choosing clothes from the past we can suit ourselves. The birdlike can slip into elegant fifties suits, the large can look creamy and ample in fifties fashions, the angular can enjoy draping and the curvy sharp 40’s suits. Any of these, with a needle and thread, a sympathetic vintage repro maker or a sharp eye can fit most of us whatever the size. I imagine a reluctance to be forced into buying whatever rubbish is in fashion and choosing our style is another motivation for our retroesque choices. Yet some people are willing to fall in with the herd on size. No one wants to encourage the morbidly obese, but depending on the individual, being a size 8 is not superior to being a size 18 in any way whatsoever. In fact the only thing that is superior in being a size 12 as opposed to a size 28 are the potential health risks involved. Slimness infers no moral superiority. Appending negative assumptions, falling in with media stupidity and judging women on their size rather than their intelligence are things that this feminist certainly wants to try and avoid. We can leave it to men and commerce to undermine us. Certainly vintagely inclined ladies should be immune to this. Meanwhile I think it is time for a bit of sausage charming…..