The Real Reason Women Need To Stop Body Shaming Each Other

body-shaming

By Mallorie Carrington

When you are younger and dreaming of someday becoming a fashion designer – you (or I in this case) dream of endless rolls of fabric, vintage dress forms, scissors, pins, sleepless nights, creativity, and a little studio with twinkling lights. What you don’t dream of – are long, underpaid hours sitting at a computer in a cramped cubicle, surrounded by fabric swatches from China, and passive aggressive coworkers who shame you for wanting to go home at 6:30 pm while they have a conniption over $2 tank tops. Unfortunately – the latter is what I experienced during my 2 years in corporate fashion design.

After graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology with an Associates Degree in Fashion Design – my creativity stifled, passion extinguished, but seamstress skills at their fullest – I had to get away from it. So I transferred to Pratt Institute in search of a teaching degree. After a year of foundation classes, and the realization sinking in that now I have to endure (and pay for) 5 years of college instead of 4, I missed fabric, thread, and sketching – so I tried to tilt my Art and Design Education degree the way of Design.

I student taught at the High School of Fashion Industries and had a fulfilling experience teaching 10th and 11th grade students to sketch, from start to finish, instead of the draping lessons I was supposed to take over from my corresponding teacher at the school. The students were hungry to learn to draw – the high school only lets you continue with illustration classes if you pass a drawing test your first year – and I was happy to instruct them.

Fresh off that high, having graduated from Pratt – I wanted to jump back into fashion. Having specialized in “Current Scene” at FIT – I wanted a job creating young, fun, fashion – and so Juniors seemed like the best place to be. Unfortunately after the “wow – I have a real job with a real desk” buzz wore off – the reality sank in that my job was not creative or fun – but was just stressful, tiring, and frustrating.

But perhaps the worst parts of my days were my female coworkers’ opinions on appearance, self worth, and body image. While almost no one took any pride in the way they dressed for work (flip flops and leggings were abound,) they all constantly obsessed over their bodies and and negative self image. I, being the youngest and one of the thinnest, caught the brunt of their insecurities. My body was always on the table for discussion, whether I liked it or not – and I was the receiver of backhanded compliment after backhanded compliment.

My appearance got discussed so much that my junior high school insecurities flooded back and I began to go home and examine myself for signs of becoming too thin.

skinny-shaming

Often being forced into our see-through, metallic starred legging samples – simply because they “fit” me – I was forced to traipse around our office from design director’s office to sales director’s office to demonstrate their fit and quality. I was constantly on display – and it made me extremely uncomfortable. Add this on to the myriad of issues I took with the actual job itself: the products we “designed,” the amount of intellectual property we stole, and the factories our garments were manufactured in – and it was overall a pretty awful way to spend the majority of my life.

There is a very specific memory, however, that tops all of the other days of body negativity and self loathing on the part of my coworkers – and that was the day we shot a look book in the office. As two head designers pushed and pulled as to who would be in control of the shoot – it ended up mostly being thrown onto my shoulders.

I was happy with that though, as I was experienced in photo shoots, having used to model, and it got me up and away from my desk. Please remember that our company made Juniors clothing – so our target audience is teenagers and tweens. In light of that, our model – a lovely, happy girl – was 16 years old. And here comes the crazy.

My entire office – full of women aged late 20’s to mid 50’s – exploded in a unanimous fit of jealousy, insecurity, and self loathing just at the mere sight of this child model. Honestly – it was embarrassing. Being a professional model, and 16 years old, this young woman was very tall, very thin, and had almost no curves on her body to speak of. One by one, every coworker around me fell into a pit of despair – longing for their body parts to fall off and be replaced with those of the teen model. And they did not keep these comments quietly to themselves.

body-shaming

I tried to convince these women – that they should not be desperately longing for someone else’s body frame, especially when that someone else if half their age. You are a woman – be proud of your body. It has gotten you this far and it is strong, healthy, and beautiful. At the same time – they were projecting onto this poor girl – the same feelings they projected onto me daily, except all at once.

We, as women, need to remember – that we do not know how the woman next to us feels about themselves. And we, as adult woman working in this design firm, did not know how this young model felt about her body. Maybe she was uncomfortable with herself – maybe she was not. Maybe she loved to model – or maybe her parents or loved ones pushed her into it. Either way – her body is not ours to judge – and definitely not ours to make a spectacle out of – aloud – in a professional work setting.

It is almost impossible not to judge another human as we pass them on the street, or encounter them in public. However, women are the worst at it. We let our insecurities get the better of us too often, and we propel those negative feelings away from us and onto the innocent bystander – just because she has something that we envy. Why do we see a beautiful, put together woman and instantly have to shame her either in our minds, or out loud. Her genetic gifts, styling ability, or confident stride do not take away anything from what we also have.

You do not need to throw negatives onto someone in order for your positives to shine – and that lesson needs to be learned not only in corporate fashion offices – but in bars, and on streets, and on the internet. Stop comparing yourself to others. Accept what you have, do the best with it – and help others to do the same. Lift other women up and you will be lifted up in the process.

 

 

mallorie-smart-glamor

Mallorie Carrington is a NYC based Fashion Designer. After graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology and Pratt Institute she had many corporate design jobs before deciding to switch to a life of freelance work. She also launched her own line called SmartGlamour which is a line of affordable, customizable fashion basics for women of all sizes. It is inspired by women’s body image issues and the lack of accurate representation of women in the media. Mallorie envisions SmartGlamour to grow into a movement of body positivity and overall wellness for women.

You can find her on social media:
Facebook – www.facebook.com/smartglamour
Twitter and Instagram – @smartglamour
Pinterest – www.pinterest.com/smartglamour

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