Can You Fashion An Outfit Without Critiquing Your Figure?

“Never once have Stacy and Clinton told a makeover subject that she’s chubby, fat or roly-poly — and never have they suggested that anyone come back after they’ve lost a few pounds.”

As you may know, Stacy London, who graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Vassar with degrees in 20th-century philosophy and German literature, is the co-host of What Not To Wear. According to a piece by Jennifer Huget in the Washington Post, on the show, London and Clinton Kelly are “meticulous in avoiding any negative commentary about a person’s weight.”

But don’t we live in a world where being “fashionable” and “stylish” often go hand in hand with being thin? Or at least: Of certain dimensions. The largest size at both Marc Jacobs and Topshop is a 12. Glamour may have featured a plus-sized model (not the same as a plus-sized woman, but different from a fashion model) in its pages, but Vogue made sure to obscure the body of Adele when she was in the “Shape” issue. London tries to challenge the idea that stylish = slim. But aren’t overweight people unhealthy? That’s what the media feeds us, everyday. Writes Jennifer Huget:

The overweight/illness connection, [nutritionist Linda Bacon] notes, has scant support in the scientific literature. The overwhelming conviction in the medical community and among public-health policymakers is that overweight contributes mightily to the nation’s ill health, particularly as excess weight is strongly associated with such conditions as cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Bacon observes that while “certainly there are a lot of diseases associated with high weight,” that doesn’t mean overweight actually causes those illnesses.

And Stacy London reflects this attitude:

“Whether you’re as healthy as you should be or not, that doesn’t disallow you to look your best,” London says. “Style is only possible from a place of self-acceptance.”

London knows of what she speaks, as she has been a “not-very-healthy” 90 lbs and 180 lbs. She tried to quit smoking and gained 15 lbs, which was tough on a show where she’s expected to fit into the wardrobe provided and there’s no budget to buy all new clothes. “It affected me. I was very moody, embarrassed and disappointed in myself.” And yet, she believes that flattering your body with stylish clothes is better than covering it up or worrying about your weight:

“Style is the instrument you can pick back up when you want to regain some of the confidence you’ve lost. Style offers concrete rules you can follow. You can use it as a resource rather than a barrier to feeling good about yourself. You have to look in the mirror and see that what you’re wearing looks good on the body you have now,” she says. “Wearing a larger size is just…wearing a larger size.”

Stacy London’s Low-Snark Approach to Feeling Fine About Your Body [WaPo]

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