Perfect Summer Beach Read

Looking for a great summer read? Check out Fashioning Fat for an insider perspective of plus-size modeling.summer read 2018

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Lady Doritos

Is there a “Doritos for Her” in the works? Speculation erupted after PepsiCo chief executive Indra Nooyi made the following comments during a recent interview with Freakonomics:

As you watch a lot of the young guys eat the chips, they love their Doritos, and they lick their fingers with great glee, and when they reach the bottom of the bag they pour the little broken pieces into their mouth, because they don’t want to lose that taste of the flavor, and the broken chips in the bottom. Women I think would love to do the same, but they don’t. They don’t like to crunch too loudly in public. And they don’t lick their fingers generously and they don’t like to pour the little broken pieces and the flavor into their mouth. [We ask:] ‘Are there snacks for women that can be designed and packaged differently?’ And yes, we are looking at it, and we’re getting ready to launch a bunch of them soon. For women, low-crunch, the full taste profile, not have so much of the flavor stick on the fingers, and how can you put it in a purse?

After a twitter storm of criticism, Doritos responded with this tweet:

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If the company were to make “Lady Doritos,” it would be another example of an unnecessarily gendered product (remember the infamous “Bic Pens for Her”?) that reinforces stereotypes about women, namely that they should be quiet, clean, and dainty.

Even the notion that the packaging should be changed so that it can fit inside a woman’s purse plays on dominant cultural messages involving women’s appearance and eating habits; women are taught to control their bodies and appetites. I can imagine women smuggling these itty-bitty packs of “Lady Doritos” in their purses. Good thing the chips are quieter so that they can stealthily snack away without drawing attention from the food police!

IMG_6478While on the topic of packaging, I must agree with CBS Philly’s Nicole Brewer. Can we do something about the loudness of the bag? [To see my comment to Brewer on the topic, check out the video here.]

The plan for gendered Doritos provoked ire on social media because consumers do not perceive Doritos as a product that is used differently by men and women and the differences highlighted by Nooyi seem quite trivializing and demeaning. Incidentally, many successful products “for her” cost more than their generic versions, a phenomenon known as the “pink tax.”

Instead of promoting these low-crunch snacks for women, I suggest PepsiCo market them for movie theatre goers and those who suffer from misophonia, a condition in which certain sounds like chewing trigger a strong reaction in the listener. For the sake of all humankind, not just women, give us a quieter chip. PepsiCo, be a part of the solution to combat sound pollution.*

*Please read this revolutionary call with a tongue in cheek tone. Personally, I enjoy a crunchy snack #getyourcrunchon

The Body: Fashion and Physique

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I was honored to serve on the advisory committee for a new exhibition at The Museum at FIT, The Body: Fashion and Physique. This exhibit explores the complex history of the “ideal” fashion body and the variety of body shapes that have been considered fashionable from the 18th century to the present. There are a number of historically and culturally significant pieces in the collection, including the gorgeous Christian Siriano gown Leslie Jones wore to the Hollywood premiere of Ghostbusters. What a thrill to see the craftsmanship up close and in person!

While working on this project, I was struck by the recurring theme of how fashion attempts to control the body, e.g., the 18th century stays (now referred to as corsets) has transformed into the 21st century waist trainer. While gazing at the pieces (which includes a child’s corset and rubber girdle!), I thought about the role of the body in fashion. How many times do we try to fit our bodies into fashions instead of changing fashions to fit our bodies? Fortunately, we see more designers attempt to address this question by diversifying fashion, certainly in the plus-size sector and most recently in innovative designers like Lucy Jones and Grace Jun who strive to make style accessible to people of all abilities.

I want to hear your thoughts on the body in fashion. How does fashion serve your body? Leave me a comment, and I hope you get a chance to see the exhibit.

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For more on this amazing collection, head over to the exhibition website. As the curator, Emma McClendon, describes:

The Museum at FIT presents The Body: Fashion and Physique, an exhibition that examines the complex history of the “ideal” body in fashion and considers the relationship between the fashion industry and body politics from the 18th century to the present. The Body features more than 50 objects from the museum’s permanent collection, many of which have never been on view. Within the exhibition, garments are supplemented with images from the popular press, fashion media, film, and other sources to highlight how the fashion industry has contributed to the marginalization of certain body types within our culture.

Fashion is inextricably linked to the physical form of the wearer. The cut of a garment draws the eye to zones of the body, simultaneously accentuating and concealing in order to achieve a desired silhouette. Elaborate undergarments, diet regimens, exercise routines, and plastic surgery have all been promoted as tools for attaining the ideal fashion figure. However, the fashionable body is a cultural construct that has shifted and changed throughout history to emphasize different shapes and proportions.

The exhibit is free and open to the public until May 5, 2018. If you are in New York City, check it out!

 

Why plus-size women can’t pose seductively with food

Images of models posing with or lathered in food are circulating through media right now. Mandy Velez for Yahoo Lifestyle spoke to a number of fashion influencers and me(!) to find out whether audiences would still applaud these images as editorial, chic, and sexy if they featured plus-size models instead of the likes of Bella Hadid, Lily Aldridge, and Emily Ratajkowski.

The resounding answer is no.

Images of plus-size models eating either fetishize larger body or reify stereotypes about fat. As I wrote in Fashioning Fat:

Crystal Renn was the subject in an editorial spread shot by photographer Terry Richardson for Vogue Paris’s 90th anniversary issue in 2010. In this fashion editorial, Richardson photographed Crystal engaged in a gluttonous feast consisting of platters full of bloody meats, squid, chicken, piles of spaghetti, an abundance of grapes, and a massive wedge of cheese. is series of images depicts a plus-size model doing what many traditional fashion models cannot—eat. Here, the photos reveal a fat woman at the height of sensual pleasure—satisfying her massive appetite. A defiant Crystal shoves food down her throat; yet, the excess of food elicits disgust from the audience.

To read more about this phenomenon, check out the article here.

Fabulously Sized? Her Size? Plus Size?

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Source: Kmart – “I Can”

Kmart recently announced that it changed the name of its plus-size clothing to “fabulously sized.” This is the latest retailer to “drop the plus.” (Remember Lane Bryant’s “her size”?) So, let’s put this in sociological perspective:

The expression “plus size” is often misunderstood or unknown (and usually equated with fatness). As many could surmise from a single glance at magazine photos of plus-size models, the basic definition of “plus size” in modeling does not match the cultural image of a fat woman. Most casual observers of plus-size models would probably not even perceive them as “plus size,” let alone fat. Indeed, many of these models are of “average” size and weight, typically wearing women’s sizes ten to eighteen; retail industry experts estimate that the average American woman wears a size fourteen sixteen. Typically, the industry considers anything over a woman’s size eight as “plus size.”

The term “plus size” is highly problematic because it is not measured in absolute terms and, quite simply, means different things to different people. Without standardized sizing practices and the added complication of vanity sizing (i.e., size inflation), a static dimensional form of plus size does not exist. On top of that, there is the inconsistency in the categorization of plus size between the modeling and retail clothing industries. In clothing retail, plus-size retailers generally start their merchandise at a size fourteen (sometimes twelve) and run through size twenty-four. (Super-size apparel begins at size twenty-six or 4X to 6X.) On the other hand, the fashion modeling industry considers anything over a woman’s size eight as “plus size.” This presents an interesting scenario where it is not uncommon for models to be hired to advertise for plus-size clothing lines while they, themselves, normally do not fit into plus-size sizes. Consequently, many of these “smaller” plus-size models use body padding to effectively size up because clients want a plus-size body but thin face.

b4ae2db7dc9e2eb73ad7895b158b4149Ultimately, the term “plus size” becomes increasingly meaningless when used to categorize clothing sizes that the average woman wears. It does not accurately reflect the nature of the bodies it supposedly describes. The term “plus size,” however, is still loaded with huge cultural significance and plagued by the stigma of fat. The “plus” in plus size is not really a positive but a negative, which explains the increasing movement by fashion retailers like Kmart to distance themselves from the term.

Do you think this move away from the term “plus size” is a positive move for the fashion industry? Should we drop the plus? Add your thoughts in the comments.

Summer Dating 101

“Summer lovin’, had me a blast
Summer lovin’, happened so fast
Met a girl crazy for me
Met a boy cute as can be
Summer days drifting away
To, uh oh, those summer nights”

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PhillyVoice wants to hear all about your tales of summer loving–the good, bad, and the ugly.

As a sociologist who teaches courses on gender, sexuality, and the body, I was asked for my professional view on modern dating. To read more about the influence of dating apps (i.e., new technology but same old problems) and how they normalized and institutionalized the hookup culture, please check out the article here.

While you are there, go ahead, tell PhillyVoice more!

The Growing Brazilian Plus-Size Fashion Market

According to a recent article by Marina Filippe for EXAME, Brazil’s premier business magazine, the plus-size sector, albeit small, is growing:

capa1n_exameData from the Ministry of Health of 2013 revealed that 57% of Brazilians are overweight. In 2006, the percentage of this part of the population was 43%. And if there was already a latent desire to embrace the cause and profit from it, another factor helped. “The economic crisis pushed those who were still refusing to look at this market,” says Edmundo Lima, executive director of the Brazilian Textile Retail Association. In the last three years, traditional clothing production in the country has shrunk by 7.3%. On the other hand, parts plus size, although much smaller, grew 14.3%. [translated from original in Portuguese courtesy of Google]

Read the entire interview here.