There's this super dramatic, moralistically encompassing, and horribly guilty-tripping argument going on in my head. I've had it there for years, ever since my feminist switch was turned on.
How can I justify the exorbitant amount of pleasure I get from fashion, beauty and (in particular, and some would say arguably) pedantic and prohibitive television shows like What Not To Wear with my feminist ideals?
For a while there it just ate me up; I thought about constructing internal arguments in regards to sexless, genderless beauty, glorying in the sometimes mystical battle cry of art, culturally symbolic skewerings taking on conceptual levels of probing critique and intellectual insight.
But truthfully, none of those stuck.
It finally dawned on me, as I was staring at one of the many fit-yourself-into-this-shape resources (you know, the ones that compare your face to geometry and your body to fruit?)
I was desperately trying to figure out which one of these face shapes fit me. Yarg! I thought, metaphysical fist shaking, round or heart? ROUND OR HEART! If only they could make it clearer, I'd be able to choose the perfect haircut, dammit!
The thing is, they're right: if you have large (insert body part) and a small (insert body part), and if you dress in XYZ, then you'll draw attention away from your "flaws" and towards your "assets".
The visual principles upon which they're basing the advice are sound.
The problem is 1) the language these guidelines tend to use and 2) the fact that they assume if you have large (insert body part) and a small (insert body part), you want to draw attention away from whatever flaws they claim you have.
What they do is give you an entry point to the information that's predicated upon a series of questions, meant to sort you based on your body shape. This has nothing to do with what you particularly like about your physical self.
These shape comparisons, all these guidelines, they're all pointing you in a direction which will make you (in your flawed humanity) look as much like what you're supposed to look like as possible.1 Using words like flaw and asset make it clear that they're working from this basis: you want to look like (for lack of a better term) Barbie. So logically, your "disproportionate" waist-to-hips ratio should be "disguised", and your "correctly" proportioned bust line, an "asset", should be played up.
What they should do is change their language and general attitude. Treat women like fully actualized adults with a brain and the ability to decide on their own what they like and what they want to do.
But! My brain shouts, the visual principles are sound! They might be talking down to me, they might be assuming I want to accentuate my waist but draw attention away from my non-existent bum, but they're right: wearing a baggy, high-necked sack dress without a belt will make me look like a stumpy and lumpy tent.
Yes, the visual principles are sound. Certain lines, textures, colours, and other tactics will draw attention to one part or disguise another.
The crux of the issue (for me) is this: you need to flip this "advice" around and use these tools, these visual principles, for what YOU want.
Who cares if you're a bloody "pear", "apple", or other such nonsense? Let's be positive here! If there's something about your body that you like, you can use visual principles to accentuate it.
I suppose the easiest way to utilize the existent information would be to work on it backwards. Do you like your bum? Read through the tips/advice for whichever shape happens to glorify the bum and use it for yourself. Skip the stupid sorting questions at the beginning. They just tear down your self confidence and make you feel like dirt anyway.
And that ends my ranty rant.
1 That is, accentuate your sexyhawtbits so that the menz will be able to use you for your express purpose: visual gratification.