Let me be my size!

Just a few days ago an advertisement in the London tube created a public outcry. The ad (reinterpreted above by me) shows a young woman with large breasts and a tiny waistline and poses the question in huge letters: ’Are you bikini body ready?’ in order to sell weight loss pills. An online petition was started to remove the ad, there will be a public demonstration in Hyde Park on Saturday and hundreds of official complaints have also been filed. I can really understand such reaction: no company should make people feel that they have to look a certain way to be accepted. (Another aspect I disliked is that the ad doesn’t exist with a man on it, hinting at the fact that the pressure is only on women, men can go to the beach as they are.) I think people should speak up when they find corporate behaviour unacceptable and this is what I shall also do today, though tackling the other side of the same coin. Speedo shapewear sports swimsuitAbout ten days ago I needed to buy a new swimsuit. I went to my local department store, picked up a couple and headed to the changing rooms. To my great surprise, none of the swimsuits (which were all in theory the right size) made it beyond my thighs. They were so tight that I couldn’t fit in them (and it wasn’t because I gained weight and forgot to notice…). Two rounds later and two sizes upward I found the winner and paid. I’m size 36 and have been approximately the same for more than a decade. Normally, this size is the idealised one by the fashion industry, nevertheless, all the swimsuits in size 36 (as well as in all other sizes by the way) contained „shapewear” functions to flatten my belly, to accentuate my waistline and of course a bit of extra padding and a push up function to enhance my breasts (and hide my nipples?). Yes, you heard it well. These are not an option you can choose in case you are interested in squeezing your body to fit the “norm” (as imagined by Speedo), these are compulsory elements to the swimwear that is produced nowadays. (Not forgetting the only actually useful aspect, the enduring feature of the material so that chlorine doesn’t destroy it too fast.) There are two reasons why I don’t get this:

  • If we consider size 36 the ideal one, why are all these „extras” incorporated in my swimsuit (to the extreme that I need to get something two sizes bigger to feel comfortable)?
  • If I’m off to do sports why do I must have my belly flattened and my boobs looking bigger?
Calzedonia shapewear tights modelling stockingsJust after this episode I needed to get tights (for a very comprehensive explanation about the difference between tights-stockings-pantyhose, I recommend this page). My preferred brand is Calzedonia because they are the only ones to produce comfortable and quality tights. Why? Their stockings have a low waist (so when you pull them up they end at the top of your hips as opposed to reaching your boobs, which is what other tights tend to do), plus they have a wide elastic in them. This means the elastic stays where you place it and NEVER ever rolls up (or does other weird things…). Despite my in-depth knowledge of the brand and what I wanted, I realised at home that I was given  ’Shaping’ tights. They claim to flatten my belly, push up my butt and squeeze my thighs. Again, who is Calzedonia to decide that my belly, thighs and butt need alterations? Why am I getting the message from the fashion industry that I should have slimmer thighs, a firmer butt and boobs about 3 sizes bigger than what I have? push up bra shapewear bra sportsbraAnd don’t get my started on the topic of bras… It has become almost impossible to find anything which is not push up and doesn’t come with a 3 cm padding (and isn’t called a sportsbra). Am I the only one who thinks that my small (but very nicely shaped ;-) breasts deserve a nice bra? Am I the only one who thinks that they are just fine the size they are? And last, but not least: why has society come to pretend that nipples don’t exist? I find it ironic that while there is more and more talk in female magazines about being yourself and accepting who you are, the truth is: the pressure keeps increasing to fit into certain norms. If it wasn’t the case, a wider range of tastes would be catered for in the clothes shops. (I need to add here that I can understand if some women prefer wearing shapewear for special occasions, but no one should be forced to do this simply by the lack of choice!). health risks of shapewearThis trend (of having to squeeze your body into tight things) is not only enraging, it also carries various health risks. Did you know that you can develop a serious neurological disorder and numbness in your legs by wearing skinny jeans (or shaping underwear)? Or that compressing your abdomen with the same items will prevent you from properly digesting your food (causing discomfort, bloating and gas), and increase the chance of reflux and heartburn. The same clothes will also put pressure on your bladder to the extent that you can develop stress incontinence (i.e. and literally end up peeing in your skinny jeans…). If this wasn’t enough, compressing the peripheral nerve in your thighs can also decrease circulation and lead to blood clots. So, I officially raise my voice against uncomfortable and unhealthy clothes! And I beg the fashion industry: please, let me be my size!!!