A Fashion-Advice Counterfactual


I was thinking the other day about fashion advice for women with different body types, which is almost always aimed at getting women’s bodies, whatever shape they might be, to conform with one ideal body type: the (skinny) hourglass figure.

The advice video below, sent in by Tara C. and aimed at women with “pear-shaped” bodies, does exactly this (excerpts and commentary after the clip):

So, the advice, as I mentioned, is all about trying to hide the shape of her actual body and make it appear to be more hourglass. To “transform it into an hourglass,” they say:

slim your hips and thighs”
“draw attention to the upper part of your body”
balance your figure” with shoulder pads
“a roomy top will de-emphasize your bottom”
offset your hips”
“avoid side pockets, they add bulk where you least need it”

I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where the fashion industry encouraged us to “emphasize” our differences from one another, instead of trying to make us all look the same. If you were pear-shaped, for example, the advice would be all about highlighting that awesome booty and tiny waist and shoulders. Work that pear-shape!

If you were broad-shouldered and thin-hipped, the advice could all be aimed at broadening your shoulders (shoulder pads and fancy necklines) and thinning your hips (dark colors and no pockets)! Work that triangle-shape!

If you were apple-shaped, advice would be aimed at looking rounder with even skinner arms and legs. Work that apple-shape!

If you were petite, advice could be aimed at looking smaller; if you were tall, advice could be aimed at looking larger.

If you had short legs, advice would tell you how to elongate your torso; if you had long legs, advice would tell you how to shorten it.

I think this would be a super fun world to live in.

This post originally appeared on Sociological Images. Republished with permission.

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