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Battling Body Image in the Fashion Industry

Growing up, I never had issues with my body.

I was known in my high school for my large bust and athletic build. I remember one of my guy friends actually drew my calf muscle in my yearbook as a “send off’ message, basically implying that that part of my body was the one he’d remember the most over the summer.

I’ve always been a comfortable size 10. I lose my appetite during bad break ups, so dipped down to a size 8 after my high school beau and I called it quits, but then shot back up to a 10. Summers in Paris and delicious pain au chocolats and pastries also always sent my size up to a 12. But I’d always come back to home base: a perfect 10, a size I’m still happy to claim decades later.

I only came under attack for how I looked when I launched my fashion blog.

I’m a writer at heart, so fused my love of prose and my passion for fashion to create Fashion Bomb Daily. And while I would’ve been happy as a clam just to sit and write to my hearts content, I couldn’t help notice that my contemporaries were getting much more buzz by putting their faces at the forefront of their brands. So I decided to give it a go.

I started off slowly, only revealing myself from the neck down. Finally, in a recap of my blog’s 1st-year anniversary party, I put up a picture of myself. I thought my readers would embrace me, finally seeing the visage behind the brand, and most did. But I’ll never forget what one Anonymous poster wrote almost immediately: “You are very pretty Claire but you of all people should know better than to wear a shirt or dress that doesn’t fit properly. All I’m saying is in a lot of your breasts are about to fall out of your shirt, not cute at all.”

And thus the personal attacks began. When you put yourself ‘out there’ for the world to see, you instantly become a target for unsolicited, sometimes hurtful advice.

The image the Fashion World embraces, wholeheartedly, is one of lithe, stick thin women, preferably Caucasian.

I’m almost the exact opposite. 5’7” and busty, I’ve felt comfortable being labeled big boned. I’m not ashamed of my brown skin. My mantra is the darker the berry, the sweeter the juice– I tan flagrantly while on vacation!

But being a fashion blogger with an online presence has opened the floodgates for loads of criticism, particularly when it comes to my body. I’ve been called a cow, obese, told to lose weight and get a breast reduction, instructed to get a tummy tuck, and much more.

The human response is to either conform or go into hiding.

I was recently speaking to a blogger colleague of mine, who happened to be plus sized. I asked her if she was going to Fashion Week this season, and she informed me that she had stopped going to Fashion Week for the past 2 years, undoubtedly due to the endemic discrimination and disrespect of people with larger than average body types.

I almost can’t blame her. I’ve dealt with my own body issues. After being called obese, I thought to myself, “maybe I really should lose 30 pounds” or “maybe I should take diet pills.

I relayed some of my body issues to one of my best friends, who thankfully brought me to reality, saying, “You don’t want to be another skinny girl. You want to be an example to those around you, that you can be fit, fabulous, and fashionable.”

And that’s what I aim to do.

Every morning, I wake up and do 15-30 minutes of cardio. While I’ve tried to walk or run in the past, I’ve found joy in jump rope. I watch what I eat, but I don’t starve myself. I do what it takes to be fit and fab–on my terms.

By being myself and putting myself out there, I hope that I can give hope to all girls over a sample size, and show them that fashion is for them, too. On my blog, with my Bombshell of the Day feature, I make it a point to intersperse pictures of real women, whether plus sized, stick thin, or somewhere in between. I make sure to plant those images in between those of celebrities who look fabulous with the help of unlimited budgets, chefs, glam teams, and trainers.

Coming to a point of body and self-acceptance in the age of social media is difficult. But I hope my blog and my story can serve as proof to all men and women interested in careers in style: Fashion is for everyone, no matter your size.

 

Speaker, author, media executive Claire Sulmers is founder of Fashion Bomb Daily, One of the top 50 Most Influential Style Blogs in the World. Follow @FashionBombDaily and @ClaireSulmers on Instagram.

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