The harm in body-shape guides

Have you ever fallen prey to a guide that tells you what to wear based on your body shape?

It probably said something like “your body is apple-shaped” or “you’re an hourglass shape!” and then proceeded to tell you to cover specific areas of your body with certain types of garments that may be more flattering. Sadly, these guides have been encouraging women to waste time with unnecessary worry about appearances for years.

It’s time to stop wasting our time with other people’s definitions of what is flattering.

These “guides” try to come off as helpful for the reader who is unsure of what type of fashion items will work for her body type. However, these guides are essentially telling women that their body sizes and shapes should fit into a certain category — and then they go even farther, telling women what they should and should not wear, which is clearly problematic.

Even when they use language that’s fairly tame, like “minimize your midsection by highlighting your shoulders,” it’s basically telling women to be ashamed of certain parts of their bodies.

While there may be nothing wrong with trying to classify or describe the shape and size of one’s body, for some, it may lead to unnecessary critiques of size and weight.

Any extra time and energy spent staring at a mirror and worrying about your body shape is time that could be better spent doing…well, almost anything else.

Even if you know you are “pear-shaped,” you should be able to wear whatever style clothing helps you express yourself and makes you feel good. As your body and your style continually change throughout life, you shouldn’t be expected to only wear what other people deem appropriate or flattering.

One thing I find personally infuriating about the “guides” I’ve read is that I don’t feel like my body fits any of the body shape options. What does that mean? I could pick a shape  that seems to most closely resemble myself and take their fashion advice…but instead I will take the scarcity of shape matches to mean I can wear whatever I want!

In the end, I hope all men and women can stay away from these types of magazines in general and wear whatever makes them feel good. You will always look good when you feel good!

Katie Boyer lives in sunny Oakland, CA and works at Goodreads. She spends her days reading, exploring, and playing with her pet rabbit.

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