As Gen X-ers, we’re more than used to messages that tell us that we need to be tall, thin, high-cheek-boned fashionistas. Back in that day, unless we fit the fashion mold we never stood a chance of being “it girls” (the girls who could sit at any table, received all the invites to the most exclusive parties and were never without some random guy on their arm every Saturday night). And if you resided outside of that mold? Your status was downgraded to “wallflower”; you were the frumpy, dumpy stepchild who would never measure up to her fabulous sisters, no matter how much money was spent trying to perfect hair, clothes, and make-up.
Enter the 00s, when fashion mags gave way to a narrative that confirmed what we knew all along: we’re all beautiful. Hashtags like #EffYourBeautyStandards paved the way for untouched photos that showed stretch marks, cellulite, unibrows…not only did women rally to scream their imperfections from the mountain tops, they were accepted. Their imperfections were accepted.
So I was a bit confused when I recently flipped through the pages of a popular glossy that, while promising to be a force for change and inclusivity, featured a multi-page section that told me how to dress for my age. Correction: not just my age — they spelled it out for the 20-somethings, right up to the 70-somethings.
Of course, there were the usual biases: according to said glossy, the 70-somethings should be covered from head to toe; the 20-somethings were encouraged to wear mini skirts and show off their “assets” as though they were pining to be a sidebar link in the Daily Mail.
For a moment I thought I had missed the mark: I mean, are we still allowing fashion mags to tell us how to dress for our age? With all the body positivity that’s being shown from print magazines to social networks, are we still supposed to dress moderately/cover up once we’re “of a certain age”?
I refuse to believe that I — a proud 40-something — should bin my skinny jeans, tank tops, and sky-high stilettos because someone believes I’m too old to show something as mundane as *gasp* bare arms.
I’m concerned that generations to come will think that at a certain point the world will only offer its respect if we dress like a Victorian schoolmarm, uncomfortably swathed in ankle-length skirts and frilly blouses. I thought we had a collective (global) agreement: that we would stop telling people what to wear and how to look so that we could focus on accepting and celebrating our imperfections.
I’ve promised myself this: the next time I pick up a magazine, I will browse it before I buy it to ensure that it features a range of models — young, old, and everyone in between. And if it doesn’t? It’s going exactly where it says I should put my tank tops, grey roots, and blood-red lipstick: in the bin.
Let every hair flip be fabulous.
Original image by Flaunter.com || Artwork by Le Snobbery