Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. (Proverbs 31:25)
It is hard enough to be a guy – I cannot imagine how difficult it would be to be a woman. While men have a few cultural rules about what it means to be “good looking,” it is nothing in comparison to what our culture demands of women. Worse, every few years, the “perfect” body type changes. One month stick thin is the only attractive quality, and then a month later, voluptuous is the model of choice. Five years ago, Marilyn Monroe would have been “too fat,” but today, “if she just lost a little weight.” Good Lord?!!!
Of all magazines, it is the latest National Geographic that addresses this issue with just a pinch of hope. While the fashion community continues to pander to the fantasy, one area of hope comes from a new openness of diversity. When I was growing up, blondes were the rage. The singer, Madonna, in the early 1980s, opened the door for all white women to become blonde by dyeing one’s hair without shame. Women of color were almost always excluded from even the conversation of beauty.
Robin Givhan, in her National Geographic article declares, “Attitudes are shifting. But the fashion world remains uneasy with large women—no matter how famous or rich. No matter how pretty their face. Elevating them to iconic status is a complicated, psychological hurdle for the arbiters of beauty. They need sleek élan in their symbols of beauty. They need long lines and sharp edges. They need women who can fit into sample sizes.” As we continue to change the psychology of the fashion world on women of color, my prayer is that more women’s sizes will be validated as symbols of beauty.
Today, pray for women and men, as they face the impossible challenge of viewing themselves and others as beautiful, pretty, handsome, or even acceptable. This world is hard enough without constantly diminishing ourselves due to the shape of our bodies. I pray for a day when we will focus more on health, than on the shape of our bodies. I pray for a day when the concept of beauty will be a little less shallow. If women of color are finally having some doors opening to them in the world of fashion, perhaps doors will remain open to those with a dress size larger than 0.