Clueless on Curves: Fashion Should Dress the Woman, Not Denigrate Her

Clueless on Curves: Fashion Should Dress the Woman, Not Denigrate Her
Mad Men's Christina Hendricks from an Esquire magazine cover in 2010. Note the glorious curves, and lack of skinny.

Welcome to Mary Tyler Mom's first guest blog post!  My pal Andy has something important to say.  Really important.  If you love it as much as I do, share the love.  Enjoy! 

 

“Adele 'too fat' says Wrinkly Old Queen with Ponytail.”

That’s how the headline should have read. But instead, news being news, the headline stated the obvious. “Karl Lagerfeld calls Adele ‘too fat’” read the piece from Entertainment Weekly.

It detailed yet another episode of a fashion designer –one rich, removed, and questionably dressed— trying to tell the world what the deal is. But I doubt Adele will be losing any gigs at Wembley or the Staples Center over some mean words from the fashion world’s own Herman Munster.

The strange thing is that, as a guy, this news made my radar at all. I don’t own a note of Adele’s music and would probably switch off a radio playing her songs. Plus I don’t read EW and wouldn’t reach for it unless, of course, I’m bored, waiting at the dentist’s office.

Still the thought of this old white-haired dude, a snooty fashion designer who can't even show his own eyes without sunglasses, criticizing a very talented and beautiful woman about her body…Well, that got my pants in a bunch yesterday. And I’m sure that anyone else reading the headline would take issue with Lagerfeld, and maybe even yank that gnarly thing right off the back of his head.

The issue is always the same. We’ve heard it for years. From “skinny jeans” to “skinny lattes” the constant conversation out there is that skinny is the only beautiful. Or that skinny is the real beautiful, the one you should strive for.

Too often, this mindset is taken as the consensus. And sometimes I fear that women are led to believe that skinny is indeed where it's at and what your potential soulmate really desires most.

Being resident in my usual “guy” mentality, one question came billowing out of my mind. That question is this:

Since when do fashion designers --many of whom are men not even attracted to women, by inclination—get to call the shots on what’s hot, what’s alluring, what is sexy and beautiful?

It could be that Lagerfeld was just being flippant and bitchy as famous people tend to be. But considering how designers get mega-rich catering to women's appetite for high fashion, I think designers should celebrate the woman they dress, not denigrate her.

Even the sexless septuagenarians at the top of Vogue and other fashion magazines may have it right on today’s mix of clothes and accessories, but miss the mark on the body. Certainly it is easier to showcase new threads on the slender frame of a mannequin or similarly shaped high fashion model. You’ll note that the women strolling down the cat walk in haute couture are a size 0 and in the 6 foot range.

But these models are hardly in the ballpark of how most normal, healthy, attractive women are. As far as I’m concerned, most of Fashion has no idea what a beautiful woman looks like.


Lagerfeld in biker gloves posing with acceptably slender guests. Harley-Davidson, chaps, whip not pictured. (pic: Get Noticed Communications)

Perhaps I’m unusual. I’ll admit that as a lad I always found older women to be attractive, even before the term cougar got any legs. A woman’s natural curves are large part of the appeal.

But I think my view is similar to that of most sensible men out there. Ask men to name a celebrity they find “hot” and they come up with a ton of answers. However, names like Calista Flockhart and even Kristen Bell aren’t typically among them.

Sure, we men deserve the flack we get about our fixations. Some of us in our younger years placed a woman’s pretty face (or the size of her rack) above more important features like a brain, a sense of humor, personality and verve. But most of us grow out of that. Believe it or not, token blonde hair and skinny legs is not the only thing we’re attracted to, and it’s usually not the first choice.

If you don’t believe me take a superficial look at the women who take up the most space on our TVs.

I won’t say their names, but there’s a reason many a man is sitting at home next to a girlfriend, watching that show on E! about the dark-haired sisters whose names all start with K. It’s not because of Keeping Up’s brilliant content nor that these women have anything interesting to say. Frankly, most of us curve-loving men would rather watch this show with the sound turned down.

I’m not saying skinny is bad. If skinny is naturally you then go with it.  Let’s just stop making women feel bad or even less-than-gorgeous simply because they are not skinny.

But maybe the joke is on me. After all, just a half hour after the last set of bench presses at my manly-man gym, I was square on my couch with my wife, with “What Not to Wear” blazing on the boob tube. As usual, Clinton & Stacy were instructing a pretty woman to ditch the khakis, banish bad golf shirts, and embrace her curves. And rightfully so.

The good news is this. As the crusty old fashion conservatives like Karl Lagerfeld move off the scene, their conventional yet blind ideals will fade away. Besides, the rest of us average joes on the street get it on what’s beautiful.


Andy Frye writes about local football for ESPNChicago.com and other sports/recreation for the Chicago Sun-Times. Follow his mania about sports and curves on his blog or on Twitter at @MySportsComplex.

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  • fb_avatar

    Well said.

  • In reply to Pipster:

    Well said indeed!!!!
    Huzzah! A man with a wonderful way of speaking his mind and reinforcing a healthy outlook! Brilliant!

  • I love it - think it needs to be distributed as far and wide as possible to challenge the whole "Adele fat" hoopla.

    Here's to older, curvy women adding to the beautiful diversity of womankind!

  • Andy's wife is a lucky lady! Way luckier than the women who cross Mr. Lagerfeld's path who are more than a size 2.

    Here is to seeing the whole woman -- her outside, her inside, her talents, her brain, her wit, her charm, her mothering and daughtering and sistering and friending.

    Thanks, Andy! I am walking a little prouder today because of you. MTM.

  • In reply to Mary Tyler Mom:

    Thanks. Ladies, keep the curves coming.

  • In reply to Andy Frye:

    Thank you , Andy!!! Big SMOOCH!!!

  • And besides, Karl does look like Herman Munster.

  • I agree with you 100%. Unfortunately, too many people are using the word "curves" when it's really just unhealthy excess pounds. Even being ten pounds overweight (as many women are) brings health risks that we don't need.
    Oh and BTW, when you-re 20-30, a few extra pounds takes the form of curves, but let me tell you, as women get older, it doesn't always look that good on us! Sigh.

  • In reply to Expat in Chicago:

    Guess we'll take the ying with the yang.
    One's psychological health is equally important.

  • I agree about not using "curves" as an excuse to be overweight. However, I worry about the low thresholds being set in the United States for what constitutes a "normal," healthy weight. Too many women are incorrectly characterized by society as being overweight (especially the ubiquitous "ten pounds overweight") and, as a result, I know too many women who are frail and fraught with physical and psychological (obsessing about being overweight when they are far from it) problems.

    As for excess weight getting distributed throughout the body in less attractive ways as you get older...boy, do I ever agree. And it is SO much harder to take off the extra pounds too.

  • In reply to jiyer:

    Yeah - I actually wouldn't mind being "fat" (whatever that is) if it would just stay where I wanted it to!

  • I agree with the message that you're sending out there. I do think women should be better accepted by clothing designers, by society, and by themselves, for the fact that they look like and are shaped like women.

    However, tossing insults back at Lagerfeld such as "wrinkly old queen" and "Herman Munster" is reacting with the same tactic as his comments about Adele...that is, the tactic about which you're complaining.

    You can win on this one with the high road...no need to slog through the mud.

  • I laughed my ass off at your description of Lagerfeld as "wrinkly old queen". It was really what attracted my attention to your article. For years I've wanted to knock that pompous little lunatic on his hiney. I can't believe he gets to go around giving his opinion on the appearance of others when he obviously doesn't have a functioning mirror in his residence with the way he appears in public most days. Creepy little twerp.... The word "eccentric" is far overused in the fashion world. Let's just call a spade a spade here shall we?

    LOVING you Andy....hoping you come back and do more "guest" articles for MTM!!!

  • In reply to MandaPanda:

    I thought posting him in a pic with those gloves was more of a swat than my words.

  • oh and PS - I'd love to see the "foundation garments" the "wrinkly old queen" sports under his jodpurs, no? LMFAO

  • Andy, as a guy who knew you before you even knew women had curves I am thrilled to read your opinion on the subject. While I agree with the assertion above that we can't let "curvy" become an excuse for unhealthy or obese we certainly can value "real" women who break from the Lagerfeld-induced-mania that requires the protruding pelvis to serve as a fashion accessory.

    MTM...thanks for opening the door for Andy to make the case for men everywhere. I hope you'll welcome him back soon.

  • In reply to Beads:

    Beads! How the hell are you?

    Considering our blogging pals are now referring to him as "Mary Tyler Andy," I'd say that he is a welcome guest with an open invitation.

    Thanks for reading, commenting, and befriending young Andy. MTM.

  • In reply to Beads:

    Thanks, Beads. Besides, I much prefer lager-induced mania.

  • There are days when I look in the mirror and bemoan my mummy tummy and my saggy boobs but then I remember that my body carried a baby to term and breastfed her for 2 years. My body produced MIRACLES yo, I need to stop denigrating it.

  • I, for one, will never grow out of the tall-skinny-models-with-big-boobs-and-long-legs phase.

  • In reply to gwill:

    I don't mind that so much either, but prefer other flavors more.

  • In reply to gwill:

    Could it be that my first gwill comment goes to a guest blogger? Say it ain't so, gwill. MTM.

  • In reply to Mary Tyler Mom:

    He follows me around.

  • In reply to Andy Frye:

    Hi Andy!

  • In reply to Mary Tyler Mom:

    That was the first one? Need to make up for lost time then.

    Usually, with the "mom" blogs on CN, this is how the process goes: I make some comments, then one day I say something stupid (probably after a night of alcohol-fueled tomfoolery), then you temporarily ban me for a few days or whatever period you deem is appropriate punishment, then you welcome me back with open arms because I'm pretty cool and so damn good-looking, and the cycle starts anew.

  • In reply to gwill:

    You just described a time out. I got this.

  • In reply to gwill:

    You play with Barbies? MTM will looooooove that!

  • In reply to jiyer:

    Yes, I play with them.

  • Well, I had no idea who this guy was, but I have the same stance on Adele and fashion as the Andy, to put it lazily. And speaking of me being lazy, I did a Google Images search of this guy and can safely say, the inspiration from looking at that page of thumbnails could fuel 2 Zoolander sequels and potentially another Austin Powers. It writes itself : /

  • In reply to blehkwithak:

    Come to think of it Lagerfeld is half Mugatu, half Herman Munster.

  • fb_avatar

    Hear hear! Curves = hot! Obviously, curves isn't obesity - that's unhealthy, and Andy said "healthy, normal women." :) I think we need to fight back, as women, and shake off the designers who only design to stick bug models.

    Diversity is key - and every woman has a unique shape. We all should dress for our size, shape, and attitude. Even me, working on getting down 75 more pounds to be a healthy weight, I can dress well for my size without looking stuffed sausage or garbage bag chic. Feeling good about yourself will lead to healthier lifestyle changes, and thus, a healthier weight. :)

  • I'm a little late to the party here, but want to add just one more point of information, in terms of how we ladies are forced look at ourselves via the fashion industry. (And I loved this post, Andy and MTM! Thank you!!)

    A friend of mine pointed this out to me years ago and I've always taken solace in it. So much of the fashion industry is occupied by gay men, and what do gay men, by definition, find attractive? Men. No hips. No boobs. It's probably not even conscious on their part, but these are the features they like to see in female models. Interesting, no?

    Anyway, thought I'd throw that out there before me and my curves go eat a burrito.

  • In reply to KimStrickland:

    Knowing this, I can't wait for fashion models to start sporting beards.

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