British singer Jamelia has caused a bit of a stir in the UK press this week by declaring on TV that women of plus sizes would not be able to buy fashionable clothes on the High Street.
Jamelia, not dressed up to pander to male fantasy.
“I don’t believe stores should stock clothes below or above a certain weight,” she said on Tuesday. “They should be made to feel uncomfortable when they go in and can’t find a size.”
She added: “I do not think it’s right to facilitate people living an unhealthy lifestyle.”
Cue a bomb going off! She then defended the comments on another television programme, saying she stood by them in the eye of a social media storm against her.
Jamelia, feminist icon and powerful woman doing things on her own terms, obviously. With a bunny rabbit.
Of course, during the second TV appearance, which involved tears, she said she was ‘misquoted’, despite the storm raging against her being based solely on her own words.
“Knowing I offended people really upset me,” she said. “But I do stand by what I said – I am a real women with real opinions… I get paid to voice my opinion. Occasionally you offend people.”
Of course you can offend people every time you speak, put pen to paper or whatever, and I’m actually often in favour of that rather than us all live in some politically correct cocoon. But the ‘real opinion’ expressed simply wasn’t very well thought through. Not unexpected from yet another of these ‘pop stars’ with a shelf life marginally shorter than a pint of milk and is thus described on wikipedia as a singer-songwriter, model, entertainer, television presenter, and actress. So many skills! I think we need a phrase to cover these multi-talented (that’s sarcasm, folks) women who do so much so well. Hey, and we’ve not even mentioned she’s a Mum as well. What a role model!
So let’s keep the fat people invisible, yes? Let’s body shame them regarding their size, yes? Let’s maintain the beauty myth perpetuated by the media and beauty industries, yes?
The British press has responded with numerous columns broaching the subject, reminding her that being plus sized is not solely down to taking no exercise and wolfing down junk food.
Of course, this is simply another example of the beauty myth to which women are subjected day in, day out and if it hadn’t been her, it would probably have been another ‘celebrity’ voicing the same view.
And then there’s Second Life, which in its own way pursues that same Jamelia agenda.
Mesh clothes. In the days before mesh clothes fitted perfectly, regardless of the avatar’s size. Since mesh’s arrival it has long appeared that the land of the perpetually young and beautiful are being channelled down a ‘perpetually slim’ route too.
To be fair, Jamelia did include both extremes of size, larger women as well as thinner women who are damaging their own health in pursuit of extreme thinness, another thing perpetuated by the fashion industry. She didn’t just limit her remarks to bigger ladies.
In a sense, Second Life’s clothes designers are even worse than real life clothes designers. Mesh clothes come in six sizes. XXS, XS, S, M, L, XL, although it’s usually only five sizes by gender. Men’s clothes run from XS to XL, while women’s run fro XXS to L, an issue that has caused some debate within SL community forums.
Note the emphasis towards the ‘S’ end of the spectrum where women are concerned.
More than 2/3rds of American women are, apparently, considered to be obese. The figures for the UK parallel the American experience.
Yes, I know and understand that SL is a fantasy world. That we don’t have to be who we are in RL. But this pressure towards the lower end of the size spectrum is, in my view, unrealistic. While the RL fashion industry seems to already force unrealistic expectations on women, body shaming, as Jamelia has done, the SL fashion industry is doing the same and is perhaps more culpable in this respect. XXS?????
I have a slim, possibly marginally underweight avatar in SL reflecting a slim, possibly marginally underweight RL me. And yet my avatar can certainly wear an ‘M’ or ‘S’ size with mesh clothes.
XS? XXS? To do that is forcing SL’s women to do that ‘instantaneous diet’ thing they can do with avatar appearance slider controls, to buy into unrealistic expectations. If SL avatars lived and breathed, we’d have a growth industry in SL medical facilities because, trust me, these avatars wouldn’t function healthily.
And where is XXL in ladies’ SL mesh? Some SL females can and do run ‘plus size’ avatars, but I suspect they aren’t always able to get the mesh clothes to fit. Following Jamelia’s example, what should designers do? Show these on Marketplace, while keeping the trimmer sizes for their smoked glass and brushed aluminium showrooms?
Prior to mesh, clothes simply fitted, regardless of avatar size. Since mesh, it seems to me that SL clothes designers now buy into the (male dominated) beauty myth.