RASHMI OBEROI | 6 JUNE, 2017
Skinny stretch… Super stretch… Super skinny… Lightweight stretch… Slim fit… Perfectly Slimming skinny!! The list is endless and mind-boggling. The rare times that I do go shopping… I actually detest shopping and only do it when I need something and reluctantly venture out when the situation gets critical… I only end up wondering what happened to simple and fun shopping!
A recent shopping experience with my family resulted in me furrowing my brows in great speed in annoyance and disapproval. The one thought that crossed my mind as we moved from store to store was: “Are only ‘Thin People’… Beautiful?” What happens to other ‘normal’ people who come in various sizes? Now I call the ‘not skinny people’ normal as everyone’s bodies weren't created equal.
Let’s get real out here: Fat shaming and vanity sizing makes shopping impossible! It's undeniable that the fashion industry is plus-size-averse. There is this passive discrimination of framing most dialogue around straight sizes only, and then there is the very active, very hurtful discrimination and animosity against men and women who don't fit into a sample size. Beyond that, there's also a frustrating production barrier that prevents plus-size clothing from being made in the first place. For any trade, it's totally counterintuitive that an industry could so obviously not cater to the largest demographic out there — but that's exactly how the plus-size world is.
Therein lies the flaw. And most top-notch brands are not alone in its ‘skinny-only’ mind-set. Many stores don’t bother carrying above a certain size that only caters to the skinny despite the fact the average person is not skinny! Youngsters these days are fumbling with ways and means of being skinny… they resort to unhealthy weight control methods, including skipping meals and purging in an obsessive pursuit of bodies that are the ‘in thing’… The damage being done has grave consequences and let’s not forget how skinny clothes just do not suit every body type.
Those forcing themselves into such clothes are a sight for sore eyes. The latest rage of having formal and semi-formal trousers in the skinny fit just doesn’t go down well at all. Men particularly look strange and peculiar walking around work spaces in skinny sized trousers and formal suits!
In an ideal world where body size, character, and worth were not conflated, perhaps life would be different but we do not live in that world, and teenagers above a certain size are already taught they’re not good enough unless skinny. One would think, sitting in a store that the only people who actually shop are diminutive. Because, when it comes to numbers, there's a huge discrepancy thanks to this prejudice.
The first step toward change is acknowledging the problem and why the whole fashion industry needs a change of perspective. Lately, many stores have been blasted for their 'unrealistically small' clothes and ‘one size fits all’ attitude. I think skinny jeans are a horrible modern invention.
Let’s play out a scene: You suddenly realise you need a pair of jeans. The old pair seems to have lost all its oomph and style. It starts all nice walking casually into a store. It's all downhill from there though. The jeans are supposed to remind you that life sucks and everything can fall apart at any given instant, so you might as well be dreadfully uncomfortable while you wait for the inevitable. Even the process of trying them on is a disaster from the word go. From a distance, the jeans don't look all that terrible and you decide to take the plunge.
The fact that you're supposed to get one size larger than your actual waist size should be a big fluttering red flag, but no one pays any attention to that. You walk to the trial room feeling on top of the world holding tightly to this refined piece of fabric. Getting them on is slightly wearisome, but you realise it's not as bad as you'd imagined. The top, the waist area, is loose and roomy so it seems like a comfortable fit. But that's just a mirage. Around the knees is where disaster is waiting to unfold. They're awkwardly clingy and stubborn and refuse to let go - an albatross around your waist.
Skinny jeans, the sartorial equivalent of the walls caving in, will suffocate you into submission sooner or later. It's when you realise the only way you can leave is by buying them and walking out from the store in that very pair for getting out of them in one big chore!
There's a lot that goes into getting the consumer inside that room. The amount of advertising being chucked at you from multiple angles to convince you of their value is extravagant. They're fashionable, they're hip, they're trendy, they're chic and stylish, everyone's wearing them, and so you must as well. Even rappers, tastemakers and forever the signifiers of where modern fashion trends are going to head because of the innate coolness of hip-hop music, have ditched their floating baggy jeans adopting skinny jeans as their trouser of choice.
By default, the coolness of an item of clothing goes up markedly once it gets the endorsement of a ‘biggie’… As for me, I own two pairs of fairly uncool ‘blue’ jeans. Recently, one of them suddenly looked bedraggled and so I decided to buy a new one and definitely not skinny Jeans. What I needed was a pair of simple, regular, straight-fitting blue jeans. Unfortunately, such Jeans do not exist. I tried everywhere from malls to tiny stores to local markets to online shopping but their very existence has been deviously wiped out.
The market is flooded with pre-faded, torn, cut, ripped, bright neon, any colour but the colour blue, hideous jeans! You know that lovely blue… Yes, that Jeans were known to be have been obliterated from the face of this earth. It sounds like bad luck, a reason to try harder and look elsewhere. But what's going on is far more sinister than that. The employee helping you out at the store is trained to hand you one rubbish overpriced item after another, pretending like he doesn't understand what plain, blue, straight, and normal mean. All of this is a cleverly designed step-by-step ploy intended to break your spirit.
Skinny jeans on men have not had a good name. “Aren’t his jeans too tight?” seems to be the most common question on people’s lips. But what people are really saying, and what the central argument against skinny jeans on men is, “Shouldn’t guys give some room to breathe!”
But of course, fashion has never been about advantages of health, or safety. It appears that both men and women are slaves to fashion even when it is detrimental to your well-being and attitude!