{ thinking out loud about the things i care about }

Posts Tagged ‘fashion’

Busty Barbie Controversy

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Some parents are in a twist because Mattel’s new “Back to Basics” Barbie collection — featuring a line of dolls in modern cocktail attire — has a doll sporting a knee-length black dress with a plunging neckline and “bowling-ball cleavage”.

Let’s consider for a moment that all these Barbies, as a set, are themed around cocktail and evening wear. None of the dresses on any of the Barbies in this set strike me as particularly over-sexed: most of them are pretty standard fair, black dresses based on current trends or classic styles. There are only two showing off any extreme amount of cleavage, including the one in question and — arguably, depending on your perception — number 11 with the halter dress..

A concerned Minnesota mother says:

“I don’t want [my daughter] to think she has to be this, you know, busty Barbie who’s constantly wearing heels and these low-cut shirts. And that’s really the image I think a doll that you’re going to buy for a child is portraying.”

Read the full article.

Not for nothing, but some of us HAVE naturally large breasts and for me the problem at the core here is a culture and society that over-sexualizes large breasts and judges them as automatically inappropriate. I have large breasts and I’m sick of being policed for them, especially by other women: they’re no more or less appropriate than small ones.

What if the daughter of this woman grows up to have naturally larger breasts? What kind of messages are we sending to her then, that her large breasts are abnormal and ‘slutty’ just by virtue of their size? That she’s forever doomed to the “fake-breasted stripper look” if she wears a top that so much hints at cleavage? How is that any better than telling small- or average-breasted teens they need large breasts to be sexy?

Also — and I know I’ve said this before but I’m gonna say it again — slut shaming and madonna/virgin worship are two different sides of the same coin: women are either pure, modest and sexually restrained or slutty, sex-crazed whores. The clothing choices on this set of Barbies seems very measured to me given the theme: the hemlines mix from long to short, the tops range from turtleneck to plunge, and the sleeves range from full to strapless. As a representation of basic cocktail dresses women in the current day and age wear, I think Mattel did pretty well representing a broad set of styles and degrees of sexual expression.

Of course, they’re all identical body-types — skinny, hourglass-shaped and tall. That’s the bigger issue to me than what they’re wearing. Wouldn’t it be great if we could see a range of body-type as broad as the range of fashion? Short, stout girls, pear-shaped girls, flat-chested girls, tall and lanky girls, etc. Mattel is starting to think a little more carefully about race when they’re building these dolls (though still not enough: hair and face shapes still tend toward a largely caucasian standard even when the skin tone is modified), so why not represent a broader range of body sizes and shapes as well?

Sure it would cost more to manufacture, but also think of the sales potential! With a variety of body types comes the need for consumers to buy a broader variety of clothing and accessories, especially for girls with multiple dolls that wouldn’t always be able to draw from the same wardrobe. If I was Mattel’s CEO that’s where I’d steer the ship: good publicity and a whole host of new products to sell.

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A Message from an Hourglass Figure

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

I’ve got two weddings to go to in August so the last two weeks have largely been spent searching for something suitable to wear. Altogether I’ve spent around 30 hours shopping and today at lunch finally managed to find something that fit. AND not only did it fit, which is a miracle in and of itself, but it also looks nice. WHOA.

I spent all day Saturday at one of the largest indoor shopping malls in the world and didn’t find a single thing that I could wear, and I’m not exaggerating at all. I get that I’m a highly unusual body type what with my extreme hourglass shape combined with my height, but one would think somewhere in the six million square feet of WEM there would be something that fit me, especially since I was searching without a cap on my budget. If I’d found something for $200 I’d have bought it. I must have tried on over sixty dresses, and not one of them was even within a tailor’s ballpark of being wearable. It really took the wind out of my sails on Saturday.

Go ahead and roll your eyes at my whining if you like. I get it all the time. People would kill for my figure and that’s fine, you can fucking have it. My curves may be coveted and photoshopped into ads and video games and comic books, but I’m sick of being glorified and idealized and sensationalized, and then having people tut-tut me and tell me how fucking lucky I am when I talk about the constant back pain caused by carrying a couple of 32G breasts around all day and the frustration of not being able to find a blouse/tank top/t-shirt/other top/dress that even sort-of-kind-of fits in a world that assumes a B or C cup. The cognative dissonance of knowing my body is an object of envy and lust colliding in the fitting room with the feeling that my shape is freakishly irregular and inconceivably off proportion makes me want to scream.

Tailoring isn’t an option. Going up enough sizes to accommodate for my chest leaves the arm holes and shoulders drooping somewhere around my elbows. Take it from someone who’s done some tailoring in her day, that isn’t something you can fix. The reality is it would be ten times easier for me to find clothes that fit if I gained 80 pounds. What a delightful option that is.

Right now especially the trends are killing me. Everything has seams meant to fall under the bust, and on me they typically fall around nipple height; how very attractive. I can’t wear halters, strapless dresses, spaghetti-straps, or anything with an open back because not even the expensive European designers make strapless bras that actually support me (believe me, I’ve tried on enough of them to know), and the straps on bras that come in my size are an inch wide or wider. And any of those mod-style dresses hide the one thing I’m supposed to be highlighting: my curves. How gloriously frumpy.

Anyway, I suppose all that doesn’t matter because at the end of it all I did find something, but surgery next year cannot come soon enough as far as I’m concerned. I dream of days without back pain and summer shopping for flirty dresses and bras that cost less than $150.

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