I recently got a call from the Huffington Post Live to talk about women’s body shapes in a live panel. I didn’t end up agreeing to be on the segment because there wasn’t enough notice to get my look on.
As a stylist, of course I’m really careful about how I appear in the media. One not-so-attractive appearance can ruin even the best reputation – yes, media, we need more than an hour’s notice to prepare!
They wanted my angle to be pro-body shapes. I would have made that work, but here’s the real deal behind body shapes – pear, rectangle, inverted triangle, etc. The premise behind them is that the optimal shape for a woman is hourglass, but only 8% of the population is hourglass. So shape analysis teaches all of the other shapes how to trick the viewer’s eye into thinking you are an hourglass. It’s a type of visual re-balancing by playing with proportions.
Here’s the problem I see with media’s depiction body shapes in today’s fashion industry. For one, designers do not seem to take national average body shape into account (most women are a version of pear shaped). Designers continue to design dresses that only look good on a few women – mostly tall skinny model types. Second, the current shape analysis depicted by the media only includes 4–6 body types, but that only accounts for ¼ of the equation by ignoring weight and height.
For example, a 5-foot, 100-pound, pear-shaped woman has different needs than a 6-foot, 180-pound pear would. To look their best, each one has different style needs despite having the same body type. As a personal style strategist, I would dress them completely differently. The only book/system which I have found to be an accurate way to dress yourself is Bradley Bayou’s Science of Sexy which illustrates a more precise 48 different body ‘types’.
The recent Huffington Post Live piece brought up the issue that women may not like being labeled. And I agree. None of us fit in a box, and that’s the approach I take in my work. Body shapes are a general way of categorizing that doesn’t capture the whole story: you, your style, and what you need to wear to feel like you’re dressing for success.
What do you think about body shapes and the panel’s take? Helpful or harmful?