the truth behind the shame we feel
Despite what we’ve been led to believe, there is no such thing as the perfect body or body shape, yet many women punish themselves mentally, physically and emotionally trying to achieve an unattainable goal.
Growing up I was all elbows and ribs and knees. Everything about me was straight, too straight, according to what I was told. I was too thin, where were my curves? I was so ashamed of my body. When I finally filled out a little and got some curves in my lower half, I was given a firm pat on the thighs and told I needed to take care of that before it took up permanent residence. And by the way, buy a padded bra. The shame continued.
How could I be straight enough and curvy enough? No matter what, I wasn’t enough.
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After paying attention to ads, I finally realized that the fashion industry uses different body shapes to sell different products, and they often show only parts of the model. When they want to sell curves on bottom, they use pear-shaped women with their curvy hips, seat, and thighs, but only from the waist down.
When they want to sell pants, a rectangle-shaped model with her straight thighs is used. For bikini models, they want a tapered tummy, so they choose a long-torsoed inverted triangle model, but when long legs are needed to sell one-piece swimsuits, they choose a short-torsoed pear-shaped model.
When looking for the best legs in town or a fabulous bust, they get an apple-shaped model. And while an hourglass shape is held as the ideal, they are never chosen as models because they are so hard to fit. They fake it by using busty pear models.
To sell conservative looks, the models will be straight, and to sell sexy styles, the models will be curvy…because if you are smart you can’t have curves and if you are straight you can’t be sexy? That’s so messed up.
When they want the combination of curves and straight, they choose a rectangle or inverted triangle-shaped model and have her contort her body to fake the curves with certain poses.
The only way to meet the false perfection is to have interchangeable body parts. What am I wearing today? “Ah, I need to be taken seriously today, so let’s put the curvy bottom away and pull out the straight one.”
“I’m wearing a skirt on my hot date with my husband tonight, so let’s wear the fabulous legs.”
It doesn’t work that way. Your body shape is in your DNA. I will always be a pear, not matter what I do. I can be my healthiest and fittest version of myself, but I will always have a pear-shaped body. Hating my body for that helps no one and hurts me and those around me. Communicating shaming messages about my own body shape or that of others creates negative biases in others. If a female relative or friend criticized her own body shape and you have the same one, you can grow up believing yours is bad too and hold onto that for life. By shaming herself she was shaming you. When you criticize yourself, you are criticizing others who look like you.
Celebrate the truth
Now that we’ve exposed the lies, let’s talk about the truth. Every body shape has its best features and its challenges as far as wearing various fashion trends. Which shape works perfectly for this year’s trends will be all wrong for next year’s trends. When pin-up and bombshell styles were the trend, curves were in! Then the styles changed to tunics, shifts, and straight clothing styles, and straight bodies became all the rage because that’s what fit the clothes.
Fashion moves with a fast current, but our body shapes are forever. So instead of tearing ourselves apart, let’s celebrate our beautiful bodies, the diversity, and the gifts they are, and I mean the body you have TODAY. Right now. This body deserves to be loved, appreciated, and embraced. It’s beautiful, perfect, glorious, and, most importantly, it’s YOURS. And that’s exactly what makes it perfect.
Learning to dress your beautiful body shape in the styles of clothes that will highlight all your best parts can be an incredible confidence booster! If you aren’t sure what your body shape is, I have a free downloadable worksheet to help you figure it out, as well as videos about each body shape and how to look and feel your best!
Learn More About Your Beautiful Shape
In the summer if can be even more essential to know which clothes are perfect for you and which ones aren’t so you can look and feel your best, and I have a post for each body shape to help you learn how you can start directing the spotlight.
6 thoughts on “It’s Not Your Fault You Hate Your Body Shape”
April, thank you for this article. It was illuminating!!. As an older, pear shaped woman, who no longer has a slim waist and tummy and now has a fuller bust, it was good to be reminded of this.
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Love it, April!
All women need encouragement rather than negativity.
You’re the best!
A faithful fan,
I love this article! So true! I grew up in the Christy Brinkley and Cheryl Tiegs era and I could never match them. I’m petite and as I got older I learned to fit my size and shape rather than copy the current trend. Though in my teens I wanted so badly to be Cheryl and Christy
Thank you, April, for communicating this shaming challenge so perfectly. I didn’t realize I had “figure flaws” that needed correction until I began reading Seventeen magazine in my early teens. So from age 13 I always felt self-conscious in a swimsuit & have avoided wearing one ever since despite maintaining my weight & working out most of my adult life. Ridiculous as it is, that message still feels hard-wired at age 71. Sad.