This is a short follow-up to Another Pair of Eyes on Tuesday because Aamba’s and Satsumaart’s comments, together with other things I’ve been reading and seeing, have made me reflect upon it some more.

First, I’m thinking about the contrast between these two quotes:

  1. From Chapter 2 of Tim Gunn book, A Guide to Quality, Taste & Style:  “And we make an assumption about a shared goal of most readers; that is, to find proportions and silhouettes that together make your body look as long and lean as possible under the circumstances.”
  2. From the March 16 post on the Fashionable Academics blog

    I chose to photograph this outfit because I know that a women’s fashion magazine stylist would never do this: this skirt, leggings, and shoes on my body type make my legs look stubby and do not lengthen me. And while I know that rejecting all the ways I could “lengthen” my 5’0″ curvy frame is a fucking cardinal sin in their book, it is part of a pathology that I find ridiculous.

I admit, looking as long and lean as possible is usually my goal, and I tend to write this blog from that perspective.  But discovering the second quote was refreshing.  Sometimes we have other goals that trump long and lean.  Sometimes we may want to dress up as a character with other details to emphasize–like our breasts, for instance, or a long, flowy, gypsy skirt.

I’m going to oversimplify in order to keep this from becoming a book, but I think the key is in knowing what you want.  Do you want to just blend in?  Make a statement?  Hide?  Identify your goal and then pursue it unapologetically.

I watched this in action in the documentary Bill Cunningham New York last Saturday.  Many of the women that Bill photographs are long and lean (he said that one society woman looked like a Sargent painting, but that she was wearing a “modesty bib” that hid her cleavage and ruined the line and wasn’t “that a crime?”), but many of the women that he admires are also short and a little chubby.  The documentary included footage of Editta Sherman dancing the dying swan dance from Carnival of the Animals. There were a few titters from the back of the theater–I assume because, despite her seriousness and grace, Editta Sherman’s middle-aged body was as un-ballerina-like as you can imagine.  Yet Bill Cunningham said that he and his friends would watch transfixed as she danced in her studio beneath a full moon.  Her goal was to be a swan, and she pursued it unapologetically.

He also loves to photograph Anna Piaggi, from Italian Vogue, pretty much the furthest from “long and lean” that I’ve ever seen in a high fashion context.

I loved the story about why Bill Cunningham parted ways with Women’s Wear Daily.  He had photographed articles of clothing on the runway and placed them next to photographs of women wearing the identical pieces in real life.  WWD used the story to poke fun at the women on the street.  Bill was furious and ended their relationship.  This says so much about his respect for women and their bodies.

Let’s continue to respect our own bodies as well, whatever line we decide to pursue.