Fillyjonk, Other Stuff We Read

How do you like THESE apples?

Why haven’t I been blogging lately? Because I am ashamed that I can’t write anything as funny, sharp, and all-around perfect as this Jezebel piece on the offensive notion of “dressing for your shape.” It even name-checks Moomins! I’m in love.

(P.S. no, that article didn’t actually give me a complex, but yes, having a complex currently is the reason I haven’t been writing. Please don’t try to talk me out of it; it is a complex, and therefore fundamentally not susceptible to rational argument.)

110 thoughts on “How do you like THESE apples?”

  1. LOL!

    Another fashion advice thing that pisses me off: the word “flattering” is often used when describing clothes for different body shapes, and it ALWAYS means the garment MUST MAKE YOU appear thinner and hourglass shaped. Because no one will know if you’re fat if wear black or stick a belt under your boobs.

  2. This is so many kinds of funny I’m rereading it! Jezebel did a superb job; I’d say I’m closer to a moomin. A pinch of glitter wouldn’t hurt, either.

  3. I still remember the lightbulb going off over my head when I was reading YM as a teenager and noticed that they used THE EXACT SAME MODEL for all the “hide problem X” suggestions. Same girl supposedly had big boobs, small boobs, fat tummy, no hips, and was too tall and too short.

  4. I love it! Next time someone asks me what my body shape is (cause that happens ALL THE TIME) I am so answering that I’m a snork.

  5. Oh thank you thank you for this. I don’t usually read Jezebel, and instead rely on other people to point me to interesting articles there, so I would have missed this otherwise. I’ve actually had some low-level anxiety about my “shape.” Lately, my internal monologue while getting dressed has run something like, “Maybe I’m an apple… but apples are supposed to have thin legs and arms and I have fat legs and arms. I’m definitely not a pear, since I’m bigger on top than on the bottom. So maybe I’m an hour glass, but with a beach ball strapped to the front? But that won’t work because clothing advice for hourglass-shaped people never takes the beach ball into account. I guess I’m an figure eight? But flipped upside down? And with a beach ball strapped to the bottom? Is there a name for that?”

    The idea of being able to slot women into “shapes” for the purpose of dressing them in “flattering” clothing (and damn right about “flattering” as code for “acceptable,” Carleigh) is not just fashion magazine-specific – fat retailers try to quantify shoppers’ shapes and point them to appropriate clothing, and it’s all over the fashion-focused fatosphere, along with the attendant “dos and don’ts” for your shape, which frankly are just the same old recycled fashion advice from mainstream women’s magazines. So even though I’m well trained to view mainstream media with a critical eye, this idea of “dressing for your shape” is so readily accepted that it honestly never occurred to me to question it.

    It is just delightful to have some validation that “shapes” constitute just another value-laden category into which most women’s bodies don’t readily fit.

  6. Also, carleigh, what you said. I haven’t been/looked thin in about 20 years, and the boob belt is outta the question.

    Whatever happened to just plain looking good and getting stuff that fits without getting the quadratic formula involved, anyway?

    How about stuff that flatters me for ME, huh? I gotta sashay around in these clothes most of the day, not them. As long as I can walk/breathe straight and don’t have to tug at anything along the way, where’s the problem?

    (thanks again, carleigh, for making me think hard on a Monday.)

  7. I still haven’t ordered clothes from the amazing Jane Bonbon because I’m too hung up on customizing something exactly perfectly (complex!), but I hear that she puts a size tag inside with your name on it. As in, I would be a size FJ. I think that is terrific and also needs to apply to body shapes. Because OTM, you’re exactly right about feeling like you’re “supposed” to look a certain way so that you can fit into the incredibly reductive apple/pear/hourglass categorization scheme.

    There was a big conversation on Fatshionista LJ recently about “flattering” — a surprising number of people wanted to defend its use instead of examining it. Thankfully our readership is not made up of 4000 teenage Livejournal users, so we can all recognize that Carleigh is right and move on. ;) (I think Fatshionista does some incredibly powerful work in the FA community, but at this point it’s so popular that discussion can get bogged down by people who are at sub-101 levels — the community ends up having to focus on recruitment, for lack of a better word, to a certain degree and leave the thinky discussion for the terrific Fatshionista blog.)

  8. Can I just say how much I hate the idea that I need to orchestrate distractions into my clothing? Wearing a busy top and dark pants isn’t going to trick people into thinking my hips are slim.

    I think that was my favorite part of M.I.A.’s grammy getup was the fact she basically put big ol’ bulls eyes on her most “unacceptable” body parts and almost nothing on the rest. Yes, she was pregnant, not for reals fat, but being hugely pregnant is mortifying for a lot of women and she was so not going to cover up.

  9. OTM, I too have tried to dissect my estimated shape; based on your experience and our (plus size) retailers’ adding to the problem, I’ll go with trapezoid (ha!). Average boobs (D), big everything else; oddly enough, same size top and bottom.

    For years, I’ve been wondering how magazines, retailers and entire books in recent years have gotten away with this mess! Only snowflakes are more unique, yet aren’t shamed into needing spanx just to fall on the ground.

  10. Every. Single. One. of the dressing for my shape guides suggests I emphasize my ample bust. Emphasize! They’re there, they stick out from my body, they take up 53″ of space, they are a neon Vegas sign that says BOOBS! Every guide suggests that I make myself look more like a parade float of hooters, often with unhelpful suggestions that I show cleavage down to my navel. None of the guides ever takes into account the fact that massive melons require a brassier that has massive straps and a neo-Gothic support system of buttresses that cannot be hidden under something strapless and hooter enhancing.

    And the damn empire waist is supposed to make you look pregnant. When it was invented it was a great big “your baby here” advertisement to prospective husbands. It’s only flattering on a few body shapes, not every big busted hourglass in the world. Combine the empire waist with a heavy rack of doom, you have a “waistline” that starts mid-nipple on me.

    I used to have a promo t-shirt for the movie Titanic, the lettering of which was placed right at the fullest part of my bust. I wish I hadn’t gotten rid of it when it stopped fitting right, I miss the palpable irony.

  11. After further consideration, I think I’m a decahedron.

    Also, not to bash Fatshionista the LJ community, because I am an avid reader and I do enjoy it very much, but I’m not surprised that the conversation about “flattering” went down the way you describe, FJ. I got really fed up with a fairly recent thread in which somebody described writing a letter to a chain consignment store (not Buffalo Exchange but something like that) about their dearth of plus sizes and you would have thought the woman had systematically burned all the stores to the ground, given some folks’ negative reactions. I don’t want to chalk it up to an age thing, because I’m trying hard to fight my Old Curmudgeon* tendencies, but I think that’s what it is. Damn kids today and their corporate brand loyalties.

    *I just elicited the help of some friends to stop me from buying a Mrs. Roper-style silk tunic thing, because I’m just not ready to go there yet.

  12. In am moment of boredom and/or weakness I did one fo these quizzes to decide which body shape I am, and it turns out I am a “bodacious butterfly”. Who’d have thought it, I always thought I was a homo sapien. Note to self; discuss parentage with mother…

  13. Ah, OTM, I hear you re: the advice for us doomy beracked types. Personally, I prefer to show off more tit flesh purely because so few tops fit me right that anything too high cut constricts me, so having it all hanging out at least lets me breathe! And I am fortunate to have found bras that either can be concealed with a nominally revealing outfit, or look like they are meant to be shown off.

    Personally, I don’t have to worry about what shape I am – my friends have all already decided I am “Gnome shape” because “I am a gnome”, or am “of Gnomish descent” apparently. Which makes dressing for the day easy. Red pointy hat? Check. Waders? Check. Braces? Check. Sorted!

  14. “Only snowflakes are more unique, yet aren’t shamed into needing spanx just to fall on the ground.”


    Even the *name* “Spanx” annoys the heck out of me. What is “spanking” supposed to mean in THAT context (yes, yes, it’s a contraction of “Spandex”) but am I supposed to be spanking myself into shape? Spanking myself because I’m NOT the shape society says I “should” be? Am I sexier if spanked/controlled/forced into that societally acceptable shape (role of a woman as sexy?) Just the name puts me off so much that I’ve never bought any.

  15. jane bonbon hijack:

    yes, fillyjonk, jane is fantastic that way and sews in a label with your name on it.

    behold: the jane bonbon creation i wore to a wedding last summer. she widened the straps on this baby for me because i was convinced that my own rack of doom would need all the support it could get:

    end hijack.


  16. I don’t dress for my “shape”, since it’s rather difficult to dress a rectangle (my waist is only 8″ smaller than my bust and hips, which measure the same). I’ve been told that’s an hourglass figure, but my waist just isn’t that obvious. So I wear what I like and to hell with what anyone thinks of it. It’s not like I can hide 62″ of boob or ass anyway, and they definitely don’t need any emphasis. So if I like it, it fits, and I’m comfortable, I’m good to go (and those who don’t like how I look, well, they don’t have to keep looking, now do they).

  17. godless heathen: “palpable irony” is my new phrase of the day. It leaves me feeling a little woogly in the mouth, I think because of the l-p combo in the middle there. I would palp the shit out of that irony, if I had that shirt. As it is, I’m pretty happy with my shirt that has two deer facing each other, one with antlers, one without. The text says “nice rack”. When I wear it, stretching the graphic out slightly, it comes full circle, all the way through completely factual back to ironic again.

  18. vesta44: it’s true that measurements are just one part of the picture of our bodies, and not particularly relevant, either. I am a for-reals rectangle, as in 53-51.5-52. From the front that doesn’t seem possible, then you look at me from the side and yep, I’m all stacked up like a brick house*. Now that I’m getting used to how goddamned powerful I am and look, _in_this_shape_, it makes me want to rephrase the joke about where a gorilla sits…

    “what does a 5’10”, 285-pound, linebacker-shaped woman wear for a night on the town?”
    “whatever the fuck she wants!”


    *A proper brick house, which is no way going to be narrower in the middle, or the bedrooms would all fall out onto the lawn and crush people. I hate that song.

  19. I hate it when I say that I am being irrational about something and then people try to talk me out of it. I SAID it was irrational? Weren’t they even listening? Because now I have a totally rational concern that no one is actually listening to the words coming out of my mouth.

    I hate the idea of being pear shaped. Igigi calles it “triangle” shaped, which is probably more accurate, I was forced to wear a strapless dress to a wedding last year (it even had one of those lovely wrap arounds to flatter your belly and look slimming.) I honestly don’t think i could have looked more like a giant triangle if I had tried. Thank god my hair & makeup looked gorgeous and my speech was funny.

    I look forward to my new Lisa Frank Unicorn shape enhancing outfit.

  20. I wish pretty weren’t even a thing.

    But I am up to season 2 of LOST and it would be so much less enjoyable if there were no such thing as pretty!

  21. As long as there remained such concepts as “shirtless” in some combination with “Sawyer” and “Sayid” and “Desmond” and “Jin,” I could eschew “pretty.” (I’m usually not so aggressively hetero in my TV crushes, but I uniformly like the Men of Lost much better than the ladies.)

  22. I know, right, FJ? And if Kate magically sprouted underarm hair after months on an island, well I think the world would just explode. I certainly wouldn’t be tuning in.

  23. Oh, I am definitely counting Sawyer, Sayid, Desmond, and Jin as “pretty.” I believe “irresponsibly pretty” was the phrase I used in talking to SM about the entire LOST cast. I actually had a crushy dream about Sawyer last night, which is totally embarrassing which is why I am telling you all.

    And if Kate magically sprouted underarm hair after months on an island, well I think the world would just explode.

    SM and I were just talking about that! I mean they do apparently have access to razors (we’ve see Jack shaving at one point so far) I was like “man, because seriously, if I were on a deserted island… well okay if Josh Holloway were there I would probably still shave, but OTHERWISE, armpit depilation would be the first thing to go.”

  24. Here is my dress-for-your-shape advice to those of us with Racks Of Doom.

    If your T-shirts ride up and cut into your windpipe, chop a slit into the collar. I have begun doing this and am so much more comfortable! No more constant yanking down of fabric that cannot stay down because there are tits in the way.

  25. I’ve not seen Lost. Would it rehabilitate pretty for me? It might be worth it. I tried to watch an episode but I was… oh. Ha. (You know, I was just about run headlong into that pun by accident, but I caught myself in time. I’m guessing that one’s been done to death, yes?)

  26. Angela: Ooooh, dress! Likey much. Just plain wow. :)

    Heidi, hope I didn’t trigger a ‘hulk smash’ in your brain. I confess I’d wear them on occasion, fully aware the hourglass ain’t gonna happen.

    *lost on “Lost.” don’t watch, can’t/won’t apologize for it.*

  27. Oh good, I’m not the only person on the planet who hasn’t seen Lost yet.

    I personally don’t want to practice pretty for a while, but Jensen Ackles and Tom Welling can hold the fort for me while I’m out.

    And my mind starts writting a Jensen/Tom scene…oh dear, I think my head is going to explode.

  28. “…armpit depilation would be the first thing to go.”

    YES. Similarly, I always tell my husband that if zombies attack, I am TOTALLY going to start smoking again.

  29. I got most of the way through season two of Lost a couple of years ago and had to stop because I was in danger of no longer going to class. It is seriously addictive, people. Start watching with care.

    On a different note, if I ever find myself doubting the notion of subjective beauty, I just need to remind myself that there was time when I thought that Lisa Frank drawings were the prettiest things in the ENTIRE WORLD. I would never have wanted to hide my glitter-butt.

    (Oh, and does the title of this post keep making anyone else think of Sarah Silverman’s “I’m Fucking Matt Damon”? Totally stuck in my head now.)

  30. My mom and I were in K-Mart Saturday and she pointed out clothing that was supposed to make you appear slimmer. She wasn’t pointing it out for me, just making an observation. I told her that no amount of clothing would make me appear slimmer. I have big arms, big boobs, and big thighs. I’m not an apple because my belly doesn’t stick out, but I’m not a traditional pear. I’m more straight up and down fat, which according to one website is “avocado.” Igigi said according to my shape, I’m a “figure 8.” Whatever shape I am, I wear clothes without regard to how it supposedly flatters me. As long as the tops cover most of my behind and aren’t so low my boobs could apply for their own zip code, I wear what I want.

  31. The whole cast is totally pretty, absolutely. And yeah, they seem to have plenty of toiletries. I would totally keep shaving for Naveen Andrews, myself. HOTTT.

    A Sarah, it is absolutely worth watching, but you have to start at the beginning or nothing will make sense!

  32. Lands’ End had a brief phase of, in its swimsuit section, defining women’s bodies as different flowers: a “tulip” was wider at the top than the bottom, while an “iris” was wider at the bottom than the top. I forget what their equivalent of “apple” was–maybe “rose”?

    I thought it was cute.

  33. I would totally keep shaving for Naveen Andrews, myself

    HERETIC. Naveen Andrews* appreciates women’s bodies in all their natural splendor.

    * By which I mean the imaginary person in my head who looks and sounds exactly like the actor, and with whom I may or may not be stranded on imaginary desert islands from time to time (and crates of champagne may or may not wash ashore to said desert islands).

    The real Mr. Andrews’s views on feminine depilation are not actually known to me.

  34. Honestly, right now I just hate pretty. I wish pretty weren’t even a thing.

    I’m with you, A Sarah (actually, I’m always with you, because you are hilarious and clever /fangirl), but especially “hot.” When anything other than the weather, food, or a foot bath are described as hot, I cringe.

  35. Yeah, it doesn’t matter how many of those shape guides I read; “big boobs but small shoulders, big stomach, short and chubby (but thin relative to other body parts) legs” is never one of the descriptors. Whatever.

  36. Sheesh. No wonder I’ve always had a hard time “dressing for my body type”. I’m a curvy-looking, boyish, semi-busty, tall, psuedo-apple, constantly in between plus and regular sizes. I feel people who’ve said they’re rectangle shaped as I am as well. Last I was measured I was 38-40-44. Except I don’t really look like a rectangle because my torso is hugely long and naked I sort of look like a cello till you get to my butt.

    It’s actually no wonder a lot of people don’t try to address writing for a body type that isn’t specifically ONE thing. It’s hard! It requires more thought process than photoshopping Jessica Simpson!

    Basically, I’ve come to feel that I need to just buy what feels and looks good to me and fuck everyone else. I sure do like the babydoll look and the empire waist dresses on me, but I realized one day that that’s actually because that sort of style actually ACCENTUATES my long, wide torso, rather than tries (and fails, as almost all attempts to morph the body shape do) to make my body look like something it isn’t. Go figure.

  37. That does it. So many Shapelings can’t be wrong. Assuming I can find the first season at the very excellent library here, I shall start watching Lost right after we finish with Damages. (Which, Kate, incidentally, I started watching because of you! So apparently I watch whatever television shows Shapely Prose tells me to watch. PLEASE USE THIS POWER FOR GOOD, everyone, I beg you.)

    Carleigh, “hot” has lately begun grating on me in precisely the same way as you describe. I wish there were some substitute that was just as lusty and fleshy as “hot,” but without the sense that the lust is a function of someone’s fitting an appearance standard. Like, not so much, “I think you’re an acceptable and titillating object,” but more, “You’re a thinking subject that I happen to want to touch a lot!” Maybe I’ll try that line out on the mister sometime.

  38. Similarly, I always tell my husband that if zombies attack, I am TOTALLY going to start smoking again.

    This is the kind of advance planning I really admire, but rarely pull off.

  39. Angela, you look amazing in that dress! I am SO excited now – I ordered one for myself two days ago, for my wedding rehearsal dinner in August. :D:D

  40. Oh dear, even Bakerella ( is getting in on the act. Hee. Which one of these so-cute-it-hurts spring chicken cake pops are you?

  41. A Sarah, don’t know if this is an option for you, but it’s all online for free at abc!

    But but… I think everyone here is so hot!!

    And JP, I was totally going on Sayid’s seeming preference for the conventionally-groomed women, but totally, no idea about Andrews’ actual personal preferences!

  42. I haven’t seen Lost yet, but totally addictive TV shows…. HEROES. With superpowers!

    I can never watch just one episode of that show… we download them all and then watch like 5 or 6 running because every time you get to the end its like… omg I have to watch the next one!

    I seem to think Lost and Heroes are related somehow, like same producer or something? But I can’t find any evidence so maybe I just made that up.

  43. One of the fine dressers on fatshionista refers to herself as butternut squash shaped, which I love because it fits me exactly.

    And oh, magazines. Yesterday I was in CVS and saw a big, bold headline on the cover of Vogue:


    SIZES 0-20

    THANKS A LOT, VOGUE. I mean, at least they’re acknowledging the inbetweenies, but christ. I remembered why I don’t buy magazines anymore.

  44. FJ – I dunno if i have a complex but I’m definitely in the middle of an unhealthy behavior pattern due to stress. You’d think the fact that I can recognize that would be a good sign, but it doesn’t seem to be helping me actually stop some of the behaviors. *headdesk*

    I gave up on Lost after S2, but I hung in there for that long mostly for Sayid. (I HATED Shannon. Usually I try to temper my feelings about female characters, but man, I waaaay personalized that situation.)

    Naveen Andrews is involved with Barbara Hershey, isn’t he? She’s something like 20 years older than him? (To which I say, You Go Barbara.)

    You want an addictive tv show? Avatar: The Last Airbender. I’m just finishing S1 on DVD. Yes, it’s a kids cartoon. Doesn’t matter. Katara is MADE OF WIN. She is totally badass and talented and smart and (yes) pretty. I can’t decide if I’d want to be an Earth bender or a Fire bender.

    (the apple/short linebacker shaped one)

  45. DRST, Airbender shoutout! WOOHOOOO. I’d probably be an earth bender, because earth is my element, but I think I’d LIKE to be a water bender, because I’ve been enchanted for many years by the idea of healing with magic or energy (I write a lot of fantasy stuff and I just keep writing healer characters, and monks, or a person who is both… can’t seem to get enough of that).

    Also, HUGS for Fillyjonk… I’m sorry about your complex. I can empathize. My life is one big complex, or that’s how it feels some days.

    ALSO, A TOTALLY OT ADDITION AND I’M APOLOGIZING IN ADVANCE: thank you thank you thank you to everyone who gave me links and info about the hair stuff, both in the last post and on the Ning site. Today I bought the book Curly Girl and I swear to crap I just washed my hair in the method described in the book (probably not even religiously perfectly) and even though it’s wet, my hair looks better right now than it has probably looked in years, no joke. I’ve always tried to squash vanity out of myself. It was part of my early rejection of societal norms, just to resign myself to the fact that I was clearly just kinda ugly, and therefore I flatly refused to spend hours and dollars and agony and energy trying to mold myself into something I wasn’t just born with. What’s the point of being beautiful if you had to turn it into a part-time job, only with no pay? But… fuck. I don’t even care if I’m vain today. I don’t even care if I’m girly. MY HAIR. It looks so fucking GOOD. I HAVE WAVY HAIR AND IT’S FUCKING AWESOME.

    And the credit goes to Shapely Prose. YOU ARE ALL AMAZING, and I love you so much!

    There’s ONE complex/crisis off the checklist! PHEW!

    comment on the shape thing to come, because this is already way too long. :)

  46. This woman has my undying devotion forever and ever and ever for mentioning Lisa Frank unicorns. I think I had that folder in the picture.

    I am totally a Lisa Frank Unicorn, and I find that bubbles and starshine accentuate my butt-sparkles like WHOAH.

  47. When I have trouble writing because of the “complex,” there are a couple of strategies I use. One is to steal someone else’s topic. Don’t freak! You can’t *steal* a topic. Once you begin writing a reaction, it becomes yours, anyway.

    Another–and more fun by far–is to start writing about something that no one in the world of English-speaking adults cares to read about. For me, the topic of poetry crops up often.

    Since you’re predicting failure before you begin, something magical happens when you begin to *pursue* failure. Suddenly, there you are writing a piece so off-beat that the audience clamors for more of your wit and wisdom.

    In my case, the clamoring peaks at around seventeen users. Que sera, baby.

  48. Today my body shape is plush Cthulhu. It matches my mood. Yesterday I was a moogle. Tomorrow? Well, it depends on which of my plush menagerie I feel like.

    In the meantime, I wear a lot of jeans and t-shirts with scoop necks and v-necks, plus a supportive and comfortable bra to hold the rack o’doom, and whichever knickers come to the top of the pile. I’m short, I’m fat, I’m stuck with it, so I might as well make the best of the situation by not worrying about whether or not something “flatters” me. (Why did “flattering” become such a wonderful term for clothing,anyway? When we apply the term to speech it usually means insincere, condescending and untruthful. I’d rather my clothes complimented me instead of flattered me.)

  49. I wish I could think of some funny joke to type, but I’m just so….tired. The fat-o-sphere is just making me so very tired lately.

    It’s not that I object to critiquing society’s ridiculous expectations of female appearance, but there really is no acceptable alternative as far as FA in general is concerned. At least none that I’ve seen.

    That’s why I never, ever comment at Fatshionista. Everything I could possibly say is offensive. If I should say something is flattering, it’s assumed that I mean “slimming,” even if that’s not really what I’m talking about. But yeah, sometimes that is one effect of the particular outfit in question. I just don’t think that makes it a bad outfit. If I should say that something shows off someone’s figure, then that’s buying into the patriarchal ideal about women’s sexual availability and/or I’m missing the point that we shouldn’t have to wear form fitting clothing and we don’t owe it to anyone to do so or to look “sexy.” But if I should compliment an outfit for being more loose and flowing, that’s just more of the tired old tent/sack clothing made to punish fat people and we should really be more proud of our bodies/flaunt them and we should wear the same things skinny people are wearing, because we should be able to. And on and on and on.

    So fuck it. I don’t say anything at all.

  50. I seem to think Lost and Heroes are related somehow, like same producer or something? But I can’t find any evidence so maybe I just made that up.

    No, it’s not the producer. Tim Kring (Heroes) also did Crossing Jordan until that died. I knew that without looking it up, that’s sad.

  51. “When anything other than the weather, food, or a foot bath are described as hot, I cringe.”

    Like angela on the office said, hot is a temperature, people.

  52. another jane bonbon hijack:

    awww, you people are so lovely! thank you for the compliments. in truth, and to give this comment some kind of reason for being, the dress looks and feels amazing because it was MADE FOR ME – it hugs my breasts and fits my shoulders and hangs over my belly JUST THE WAY I WANT IT TO because jane is amazing and sews up a dress that follows more or less the countours of my body and not some arbitrarily defined shape. although if i had to pick one, i would say that my shape is “polka dot.” voila.

    for those who asked, the dress is still available and customizable. and it comes in black with white dots, too:

    it was a bit of splurge, but so, so worth it. i wore it all over town last summer and will probably do so again this summer.

    end jane bonbon hijack.

  53. Holy crap. You know, all this time (as in like, the six months since I stopped thinking “I’m fat, why bother dressing well?”) I’ve been looking at those dress for your shape articles and thinking I was some sort of special case for not fitting into any specific shape. And why did I think that? Why did I think articles that think you can’t have a big arse AND a big belly were any reflection of…well, anything? And a lot of these were guides supposedly directed at bigger women, too.

    Also, the Jezebel article is especially hilarious to me because I have actually whined about looking like a Moomin and how there’s no shape guide for that! (And I am cutting out the whining, I’m getting better. I have to say, reading through this blog is helping A LOT with that.)

  54. I wish there were some substitute that was just as lusty and fleshy as “hot,” but without the sense that the lust is a function of someone’s fitting an appearance standard. Like, not so much, “I think you’re an acceptable and titillating object”

    A Sarah, thanks for articulating the problem with the word “hot”. It irks me too, but I hadn’t been able to pinpoint why, exactly.

    Also, Robotitron,

    Yesterday I was in CVS and saw a big, bold headline on the cover of Vogue:


    SIZES 0-20


    YES, EXACTLY. I’ve seen this type of thing so many times, and over here, magazines usually pat themselves on the back when they include “all sizes!!!1!” in a fashion spread, when these sizes are 2-14 or something. Because, you know, since most stores sell clothing up to size 14, there cannot possible be women that wear a 16 or larger. According to the magazine they simply don´t exist. Or at least they aren’t in the target audience of the magazine. :|

    As for the different shapes thing, well, hell – it’s so… lazy, to assume that women can be categorized into, say, six different types (although I was amused to find my body shape mentioned in the Trinny & Susannah link – apparently I am a vase). So, I agree with you, CassandraSays, on this: Would it not be easier to just say “try things on until you find clothing styles that you like the way they look on you”? That’s how I shop anyway.

    Also, yes on “flattering always means making you look thinner”.

    And now I really hope I got all those tags right…

  55. SugarLeigh yay for good hair days! :) My only concern about Earth bending is that like water bending, you have to be near the element to do it, where air and fire don’t require that. (Yes, I seriously think about these things. *facepalm*)

    On the “hot” issue, Lance Mannion wrote a column about America Ferrera when she was on the cover of Glamour, Ugly Betty is not hot, neither was Katharine Hepburn, and that’s the secret of their beauty:

    At any rate, unlike pretty, lovely, beautiful, handsome, sexy, stunning, gorgeous, and just plain good-looking, “hot” is not an automatic compliment. It’s a statement of intent. It doesn’t describe the person who is “hot.” It announces the effect of that person’s “hotness” upon the speaker.

    “You’re hot,” “She’s/he’s hot” means “I want to strip you naked and roger you roundly.”

    There are only a very select and extremely circumscribed situations under which this sentiment will strike the person so addressed as a compliment.

    Dunno Lance Mannion from Adam, but this column is excellent. Go read the whole thing.


  56. re: dress hijack
    Others have already said this, but, wow, Angela, that dress is stunning on you. :-) I was thinking of ordering a dress but I’ve been on the fence. Not anymore. I’m going to go for it.

    I agree that the body type business is absurd… but, I do think some styles are more “flattering” (there’s that word again, sorry) than others, and some styles that look great on other people look hideous on me. As a small-busted, wide-hipped, long-waisted unicorn (!), I have to say I love empire waist dresses. And if anybody asks me if I’m preggo, I can say, “If I am, the surgeon who did my hysterectomy has A LOT of explaining to do.” Which I hope would completely embarrass anyone silly enough to ask.

    When I was in India, I noticed that saris tended to flatter every single woman who was wearing them, whatever their shape. But perhaps that because they are somewhat customizable, depending on how they are “wrapped.” (There’s probably a real word for it but I have no clue what it is.)

  57. I’m going to repeat what I said at Feministing, because I think it will be appreciated more here:

    I’ve been thinking about wearing one of those plastic headbands with the long springs sticking out and bobbles on the ends (I have one with pink disco balls). My goal is to distract people from my unsightly Rack of Doom. Think it will work? Or would I do better with really extravagant earrings?

    That said, I’m actually a pretty classic apple. Or a tomato on two sticks. Sticks with well-defined muscles.

    Before the exercise slimmed my legs down, I was actually pretty much just ‘fat’ shaped. Fat legs, fat arms, fat belly, rack of doom. Uniformly fat. No one part was ‘disproportionately’ fatter than any other. And no one gives advice for that. You are allowed one fat section of your body, and no more!

  58. A Sarah, don’t know if this is an option for you, but it’s all online for free at abc!

    But be warned, every so often they run a commercial that spoilers two or three seasons if you don’t pause it immediately! (Yes, they run a commercial for LOST on free episodes of LOST.)

    Naveen Andrews, mmmmm. SM and I were just talking yesterday about the moment in The English Patient when he lets his hair down and every woman in the audience gasps audibly.

  59. (Yes, they run a commercial for LOST on free episodes of LOST.)

    And don’t forget that annoying Toyota commerical that just randomly starts with …eating your knees for lunch…
    I watch all my TV online, so I well know ABCs system. Hulu is SO much better.

  60. But if you go with the bobbly headband, you’ll have to change your line to, “Hey. Buddy. My eyes are down here.”

  61. Angela – Thanks for the Jane Bonbon link, I think I’ll be getting that dress!

    And DRST, thanks for the link to the Lance Manion article.

    I really hate the overuse of the word hot. Partly because of its use to describe everything from cars to cartoons, but mostly because to me the meaning is something like “you are attractive in an utterly generic way, by which I mean I can’t find anything specifically wrong with you so I guess I’m supposed to find you attractive?”. It’s that whole idea that there’s one universal standard and meeting it should be every woman’s goal that irks me. Anyone ever see the episode of Family Guy where Jesus was partying with the Pussycat Dolls? There was a comment there about “which one of you totally interchangeable women wants to…”. That pretty much sums up my feelings about the term “hot”.

  62. I’m wondering if anyone thinks it’s problematic to discuss shape in respect to estimating how well a piece of clothing is going to fit, because I find it pretty useful. I’m pear-shaped or 8-shaped or whathaveyou, so I have problems with shirts that fit me up top being too tight in the middle, pants that fit my butt being too loose in the middle, and dresses that fit my hips and waist being too big around my chest. I think I look best when clothes follow my shape but don’t squeeze me anywhere, so I do appreciate the clothing companies that make an effort to tell you what kind of clothing is likely to fit your shape rather than assume everyone is shaped like a store mannequin or an hourglass or whatever their arbitrary standard for normal is.

    That said, I am completely on board with the annoyance at “dressing for your shape” and “flattering” and other such terms because they do mostly seem to mean hiding the ugly bits in shame or making the too small bits look bigger and making the too big bits look smaller. I don’t want to create an optical illusion with my clothes and I certainly don’t want any “tummy control” to smoosh my fat into submission, I just want something to fit me.

  63. haha i like the unicorn one – if you keep a rainbow on your head constantly, it will detract from the glitter constantly coming out of your butt. awk-ward.

  64. +1 what HeatherMae said.
    I have the some of the same issues with fit and I find it helpful when clothing retailers give more information about how the clothes fit. Like at Eddie Bauer where they say that Blakely fit means “the waist is a size smaller than the hips”– that means the pants will fit me without a trip to the tailor.

  65. But be warned, every so often they run a commercial that spoilers two or three seasons if you don’t pause it immediately! (Yes, they run a commercial for LOST on free episodes of LOST.)

    Really?? Wow, that’s changed. I used to only get ads for stupid products, or insurance, or cars, or stuff like that. That’s stupid, ABC!

    I have yet to comment on the actual post here, oops. I agree that body shape categories are stupid.

    I know “flattering” usually means dishonesty in the sense of thinness and hiding/masking parts of your body, but I also think it can mean, well, enhancement of those parts that apparently “ought” to be bigger. So for me, as a “boyish/petite” woman (not sure of the exact difference there), I guess “flattering” clothes are once that would exaggerate boobs and hips and whatever else I’m supposed to have more of.

  66. You know what I also found discouraging in girls’ magazines when it came to defining your own body? The occasional page on how to define the shape of your fingernails. (The pages on complexion or skin tone or whatever might have bothered me, but I wasn’t very interested in make-up so I didn’t pay much attention). I didn’t know what to think once I used that guide and discovered that my fingernails are ALL DIFFERENT shapes. I’ve got square ones, oval ones (okay, only one precious one of those), triangular ones, and round ones. Did this mean my fingers were freakish??

  67. FJ,

    I’m sorry you are in the midst of a complex, and I hope it resolves itself soon because I miss your dull, substandard, unextraordinary posts.


  68. What gets me about these articles that recommend “flattering” clothes for different body types is that they give the impression of appreciating that women come in all shapes and sizes (even if it is only 0-20), but then they turn around and give you advice on how to hide whatever deviates from the imagined ideal. “Yes, we know bodies are different! Here’s how to pretend they’re not!”

  69. I loved that piece. I’m one of those people who have been drawn into the food body type descriptives. I think we’ve heard it for so long that it doesn’t phase me anymore. I know, not necessarily a good thing.

    I had never heard of Moomins before but it was love at first site. I ended up shopping on ebay for moomin stuff. I ended up with a Moomin mug but there is a ton of stuff out there.

  70. I don’t know. Maybe it’s me, but I think you’re a better writer than her. But it was funny.

    And no, I’m not just trying to make you feel better.

  71. Jenny1144: Yes, exactly! It’s insidious, really. You start the articles thinking, “here’s something that’s ok with the way I look!” so you aren’t on your guard, and pretty soon, you’re thinking, “you know, I really should be downplaying my butt/thighs/belly/breasts/whatever,” which is totally not the point of being happy with your body!

    Somehow, even though I’m normally sensitive to things that try to make me see my body as “bad,” these articles slip in under the radar and suddenly I’m judging myself as harshly as I used to.

  72. I had never heard of Moomins before but it was love at first site.

    Me too Moe! They have such adorable little round bellies and I want to squish them. I’ve been looking for a plush one for snorgling purposes, but haven’t found any yet.

  73. There is actually quite a lot of Moomin merchandise out there, but while I certainly wouldn’t dissuade you from seeking it out, totally read the books too! Here’s a great article by Shelley Jackson as an introduction: Moomin and Me. As Jackson says in the article re: Moomin toys, “The effect of these trinkets is eerie to someone with a sense of the solemnity of Jansson’s books, something like a Gregor Samsa action figure (morphs into a giant beetle!) or a Waiting for Godot snow globe.”

  74. Also:

    I didn’t know what to think once I used that guide and discovered that my fingernails are ALL DIFFERENT shapes. I’ve got square ones, oval ones (okay, only one precious one of those), triangular ones, and round ones. Did this mean my fingers were freakish??

    If so, mine are too! Yay freakish fingers! (Of course mine are also double-jointed! And my pointer is longer than my ring finger on one hand and shorter on the other. And I type with my right pinkie held out like I’m drinking tea. That part’s not really a freakish finger thing, more just general freakish behavior.)

  75. And my pointer is longer than my ring finger on one hand and shorter on the other.

    So you just have an uneven amount of testosterone, then, according to very reliable personality tests!

  76. Fingers different lengths? Disaster! you are asymmetrical and evolutionary psychology proves by science that skew-whiffery is a terrible horrible character flaw.
    Sorry fillyjonk, but we will have to call you LOPSIDO from now on.

  77. This is entirely off-topic. My spouse is sick today and I’m gearing up for a conference and job interview so we’re letting the TV be the babysitter and anyone who disapproves on principle is welcome to come over and take care of my kids for me for free or lobby for universal quality publicly-fiunded childcare, with my thanks.

    ANYHOO, there’s some PBS show called Ruff Ruffman – billed for six-to-ten year olds – and OMG they just gave some kids a project where they had to reduce the number of calories in a pizze recipe!!! I am LIVID. I only caught the end so I don’t know the whole story, but COME ON! Calorie counting in the primary grades?

    Sorry for the hijack but when the world goes crazy I know I can count on SP.

  78. Start watching Lost with care. My husband and I started watching it two summers ago (after Season 3), and we got through all three seasons in about three weeks. I think we logged more hours on our couch in those three weeks than we had in the three previous years that we’d had it. We also had to devise ways to get our son to bed as early as humanly possible so we could watch uninterrupted.

    That makes me so angry about the Ruff Ruffman show (I think the show is called Fetch). My son loves that show, but he hasn’t watched lately, and it makes me livid too that they are discussing calories and particularly reducing calories on it.

    In general the PBS cartoons are okay around weight/size issues, but their “real people” shows aren’t as good. We have one called “Get Up, Get Out!” in Michigan that is nice in theory, but in practice seems to have too much of a “Get off your lazy butt, kids, so you don’t get fat!” vibe. Plus there’s always a bunch of annoying PSAs about making sure your child plays, as if kids today spend all day vegging in front of the TV (as opposed to, say, running and jumping in circles around the TV as my son likes to do), and those stupid Chuck E. Cheese commercials about how Chuck E. Cheese shows kids “the satisfaction of being in action,” which is annoying. But then there’s that other awful Chuck E. Cheese commercial where the moms, despite spying on their children in their own backyards, still don’t think the kids are safe enough, and so take them to Chuck E. Cheese, so apparently preying on the irrational fears of parents is what they do.

  79. Even more of a hijack, but does anyone else think that “When the world goes crazy, I count on Shapely Prose” would make a fantastic facebook group? (As would “lol your fat”, but it might be too easy to misunderstand!)

  80. A Sarah/Lori: I saw that episode of “FETCH! With ruff ruffman” in its entirety. My initial reaction: uh, it’s a pizza, jive tofurkeys! Pizza’s supposed to be fun!

    Yeah, now mom and/or dad can get themselves and the kiddehs stamped like they’re at the club — chuck’s checkin’ IDs now. (Is Jimmy on the list?)

    *ahem — cue headdesk*

    Anybody got timeshares on Mars by chance?

  81. When the world goes crazy I know I can count on SP

    Thank you, this is how I feel today too. I had a friend moralize to me this morning about how I could get in shape (i.e. lose weight) if I simply “chose” to. I’m still smarting from the conversation. I know she means well, they almost always mean well, but it’s like climbing up the same damn hill over and over again to try to explain and rationalize and PROVE that 1.) It’s not that easy and 2.) I deserve to accepted for who I am today and 3.) mind your own fucking business.

  82. *puts on palmistry cap*

    The length of the three middle fingers on each hand has to do with personality traits, and your hands are not identical. Your dominant hand expresses you as your are, while the other hand expresses you as you see yourself/wish to be. You should see differences between your dominant hand and the other hand (and anyone taking money for reading your palms better look at both hands or you should not pay them).

    The index finger is the Jupiter finger, signifier of your leadership potential and charisma. The middle finger is the Saturn finger, indicator of your relationship with rules/regulations and authority. The ring finger is the Apollo finger, representing both creativity and vanity.

    (Pinkie finger is Mercury, deals with your skills in communication and expression as well as business.)

    It’s perfectly normal for your index finger to be longer than your middle finger, or equal to it, or shorter. For some people all three middle fingers are equal length. Whichever finger is longer is dominant, and the amount of difference indicates the degree of dominance.

    For FJ, my pointer is longer than my ring finger on one hand and shorter on the other if the pointer is shorter on the non-dominant hand, it indicates a strong creative urge within, but in practical terms (the hand where the pointer is longer) responsibility and leadership are stronger than the creative drive – which would not be unusual since most of us who have to work for a living would be unable to give full reign to our creative sides all the time.

    I also have a variety of nail shapes on my hands. There are four categories, square, rectangle, oval and almond, each with unique meanings that then are combined with the finger on which they appear. More important, the color of your nails is a big indicator of health. The pinker the nail, the healthier you are. Blue or pale nails indicate poor blood circulation. EMTs and emergency room personnel may look at your hands to check the color of your nails to get a quick idea of what might be wrong with you.

    *takes off cap*

    Yes, I am an amateur palm reader. Though sometimes I think I should open up a shop because I’d probably make more money than I do now.


  83. I sincerely fucking love your posts, FJ. I’d want to hear whatever you have to say, because (as I tell my sister about her shiny shiny hair) a “not good” piece of writing from you is better than most people will ever achieve. So by all means take your time and take a break, and I hope your complex passes, but there is at least one short Northern Irish person who will bounce with glee when your name is in the heading (byline? i know fuck all about journalism) again.

    Sorry fillyjonk, but we will have to call you LOPSIDO from now on.

    I was calling her that already. Was that wrong?

  84. Thank you so much for pointing to the Jezebel article. SO MANY times (before I gave up reading magazines completely) I would make myself upset trying to work out ‘shapes’ for myself. “Right, I have wide hips, so it says maximise my bust, but I don’t really have a huge bust. And I need tummy support so they suggest emphasising bust and hips OH GOD EVERYTHING ABOUT ME IS WRONG’.

    Luckily, thanks in part to you lot at SP (I read a lot, but don’t comment much) I am just about getting to the stage where I do know it’s them that’s wrong, not me.

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