Tuesday, February 14, 2006

What Not to Do

On Valentine's Day, i thought it would be the best time to take advantage of a couple of recent comments to challenge our body image issues. Okay, this is coming from left field, but i feel the need to use my blog power here. Let me explain to you first what this blog means to me. It's a place for me to share my ideas around being a vegan, feminist, and crafty grrl. It's where i post recipes, ideas, social justice info, and also knitting/sewing/jewellry ideas. My blog gives me voice and does not silence me. This blog is about being connected to a community of like-minded people who are supportive and compassionate as well. Having said that, while my style is obviously not subtle, this blog is not a place where i seek out criticism and fashion advice. I do belong to an absolutely great Flickr group called Wardrobe Remix - a place to go to admire other 'regular/non-celebrity' women's fashion sense for their creative ideas and concoctions. It is also a place to all celebrate our bodies as they are, a safe place to go without judgement. And it's also a place where my partner gets to play photographer - something that he doesn't always love considering it may be 8am. Maybe it shows in the photos, but who cares?!

What Not to Wear
is a great resource and 'reality TV' attempt to help people learn what their true style identities are. It's helpful to people who are in a rut and just need a couple of big hands of support to get out of that said rut. One of the scary things the guests must go through is a mirror where they face their worst looks. The hosts can be downright nasty - all in the name of ratings, i wonder? They probably don't have to be so harsh, but that's entertainment for you! Is this what allows us to act this way? Are we so naive to think 'reality TV' is really that real? The guests are chosen by friends and family to go on the show, but they choose to actually make that trip. This is where constructive feedback on the show is powerful - it's harsh but the recipients asked for it. One wonderful thing about the show is the $5000 they get to spend. Another is the support Stacy and Clinton (the hosts) give them. They highlight the guest's good stuff and provide guidance around how to 'hide flaws.' I am a feminist who loves her body and also believes we are all different in shape, size, and colour and we should celebrate that difference. It is not always that easy, though. It is when we receive comments (especially by other women) that are destructive, not asked for, and mean-spirited that we begin to feel like we have to fit into a 'norm.' There is no such thing.

I love what i wear because it's individual, celebrates vintage and second hand, is never by big names like The Gap that support slave labour, is colourful, and is also by local small designers. I usually wear make-up, but not always. I also don't have the need to wear tight fitting clothes and i do feel comfortable in every outfit i wear. What makes me sad is when other women get trapped in thinking we have to all look the same to be attractive. Who says i need to wear clothes simply to show off my figure? So what if a blouse doesn't have structure. I know i am sexy underneath. And i may look pregnant (maybe i am) but isn't it quite rude to get a comment that tells me i do? I should hope we have a better sense than to put down someone we don't know: Own your own stuff. Body image is something i take deeply, and is in fact the work i do. I speak for us all when i say 'celebrate yourself.' Not everyone feels comfortable to do wear what we want to. I'm just lucky that i do.

As a side note, here in Canada, we just finished the National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, a powerful educational outreach to help people who have body images as well as others who believe we all should look the same. Februay 26 - March 4 is the American eating disorder awareness week. And, it's no wonder we need them when it's so easy to be critical of each other. Celebrate your body that week! Wear what you want and how you like it! Say Fuck you! to societal pressures to conform! Feedback is only constructive and useful when we want it and it's safe for us to hear. So, thank you to the anonymous comments that were meant to offend and be hurtful, they infact gave me an outlet to chat about our battle with body image and society's pressures on us!

Seek individuality.


Blogger jen said...

i already commented on the remarks in question, but i just wanted to say great post! it's especially appropriate for valentine's day.

happy valentine's day, vania!

8:10 AM  
Blogger michelleknits said...

I agree with Jen. You took something really lame and nasty, and made it into an eloquent and effective piece of writing. You make a powerful statement about style and bodies and personal expression that I hope those commenters read and understand. I wish you the best today and every day!

8:23 AM  
Blogger vania said...

thanks you too, it means a lot to me. have a great VDay as well - and Jen, try to go to that show, it really is amazing.

9:17 AM  
Blogger slughunter said...

dear vania,

i am really disappointed that close-minded criticism was aimed directly at you, your blog, and rmx set! you are a role model in my wardrobe world- especially in the honesty, humble confidence, individuality, and comfort you exude in your photos. you have my support....


can i link to you?

11:16 AM  
Anonymous Amber said...

What a great and inspiring post. I read your post in the wardrobe_remix group today and added you on Flickr and I'm adding your blog feed to my RSS reader. As one of the bigger women in wardrobe_remix, and also as a big admirer of your style, it was really refreshing to read this. Looking forward to following your blog!

11:24 AM  
Anonymous kathleen said...

i found you throug wardrobe remix as well and i think almost all my thoughts were stolen by amber... thank you for speaking up for all of us!


3:06 PM  
Blogger krissy said...

way to go, vania! really powerful.

10:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't it interesting - a FEW negative posts, and sea of positive?!?! And now those annoying anonymous individuals are silent. You are confident in yourself and decisions for MANY reasons. Your opinions and taste are good, no great, and you've enlisted supportive troups to cheer you along! Don't let 'the man' drag you down.

Maybe i should get a 2nd blog here just so lil sis isn't annonymous any more..


10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vania, what a wonderful post! I came here from the Flickr wardrobe group--I haven't posted yet, but I have been enjoying yours and others' posts for months now. Hoorah for women who embrace individuality and who encourage others to do so. It takes no small amount of courage to step out of the mold of conformity simply by dressing differently and by loving your own shape. Kudos!

Heidi/green alkemy

1:20 PM  
Blogger bitterknitter said...

I love the dress and apron you got. I agree with everything you was the push I needed to pull out some of my cute (I think) clothes that I haven't worn in a while and proudly wear them to work!

3:44 PM  
Blogger lux said...

(new to blogging world)

Completely agreeing with what you're saying and it's a shame the majority of society don't have the same attitude as you :)

4:19 AM  
Blogger Fabricated Goddess said...

Dear Ms. Crafty Vegan,

found your blog thru Thimble and I wanted to stop by and say great blog. I love your style, I love what you have to say, and I'm sorry that people were rude to you. The NERVE! Congratulations on posting a response that was intelligent and passionate - glad you didn't stoop to their level. ;)

m @ The Fabricated Goddess

1:21 PM  
Blogger valerie said...

vania, my friend amelia (slughunter) told me this morning about those nasty comments and i was sickened. you are a true inspiration in the flickr group. i'm always psyched to see your posts (which personally, i find adorable) and it's pretty disgusting that anyone would feel the need to put you down. that said, i'd like to add my voice to the crowd and say that i'm glad you're as tough and smart as you are and were able to put whoever that jerk was in their place through this post. keep it up, lady!

7:04 PM  

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