Recently I sauntered down the halls of SAKS Fifth Avenue in New York City only to discover that I am a “large” size. I must digress and set the stage for this unprecedented discovery. I was calmly surveying my favorie brands when my eye caught an unusual array of unfamiliar clothing and name brand. To some that might not seem important, but to a brand afficionado like myself, it is not only exciting but crucially obligatory to stop and take a closer look. As I ran my hands gently through the silk and color, I discovered that all the sizes were either zero or two. How can that be? Was I in the teen section? No, this was the third floor where Guccis, Armani, Lauren, Moschino, Sanders, and others of their ilk hold court. As I was evidently frustrated, a young size zero sauntered in my direction asking if I required assistance. I answered calmly if the brand carried only clothing for embryos. The size zero was slightly taken aback but managed a smile as she pointed to the “large” sizes in the back. Way in the back and segregated from the rest of the embryonic merchandise lest they contaminate them were the shameful sizes: three, four, and my size six. At that moment I felt like the proverbial pubescent whose first hard on was cruely interrupted by a cold shower.
I was livid. Who makes the rules? Who decides what body fits into what size? As I wondered through the store that day, I discovered other brands carrying only sizes that would fit a five-year old disguised as a woman. When did women allow haute couture to determine whether we should be labled as normal or fat? If Marlyn Monroe had lived today she would have been regarded as obese because she was a size 14! Jane Manesfield was another healthy beautiful woman whose clothing size would have probably been displayed way in the back or not at all. What has happened to the hour-glass figure?
Watching fashion week is like watching an array of clothes hangers hovering surreally to crazy music on an elevated platform symbolic of how detached the fashion world is from the rest of us. The current genre of runway models could amplify third world hunger and emaciation rather than glamor and beauty. At what point in time did starvation and shapelessness become the hight of fashion? In the early sixties, a young British model by the name of Twiggy came on the scene wearing wonderfully outrageous figureless clothing and mini skirts. She was skinny, pouty, and taunt. As teens we all loved her clothes, but I do not recall any of us wanting to be that thin. By the way, in today’s standards Twiggy would have been a fat size three or four!
The fashion industry is a billion dollar empire dominated by female gendered male designers who sometimes seem to despise the fact that women’s bodies have three dimensions: breasts, waist, and hips. They prefare women to be and look one dimensional without any distinction in curves. Is it possible that they create shapless clothing that hangs on shapeless people as an attempt to neuteralize society into accepting their version of “beauty?” Is that why runway models are caught in a gender war that leaves us undetermined whether some are male or female? Is that why no one really buys runway haute couture except Hollywood kooks who want to make a statement at the Oscars only to be rediculed by Joan Rivers the day after? Finally, why do women allow this to happen?
Am I a “large” size? I don’t think so. As we grow older we are well aware that style and fashion morphs into what should be deemed as acceptable to our age. My “new forty” look has kept me in good stead and I have no complaints about my shape either. At 97, my mother has remained small and petite. Her elegance, grace, and demurity can never be duplicated by any brand name or haute couture. Like many women of her time, she is and was one of a kind. No neuture gendered runway fetus can ever come close to that!