One of the biggest perks (perhaps THE biggest perk) of my job as an editor here at The Gloss is that I get to attend New York Fashion Week. Getting to see designers unveil their new collections and marveling at all of the things that I’d never be able to pull off in real life has been a dream of mine ever since high school, back when it was actually still possible to sneak into the tents at Bryant Park and Lincoln Center (not that I ever actually did that, if the NYFW police, or the real police, for that matter, are reading this). The idea that someone like me would have an official invitation, with my name printed on it and everything, to shows put on by Betsey Johnson, Lauren Conrad, and Vivienne Tam is kind of beyond my comprehension. In short, I love it.
But this column isn’t about how much I genuinely enjoy NYFW. I mean, I could talk about it for hours, but I’m pretty sure you’d all get bored and leave after the first paragraph, which wouldn’t stop me talking, but I’m nothing if not aware of how people may or may not react to my articles. And since this column is primarily about health and fitness, I’m obviously not going to spend my time talking about all the pretty clothes.
Let me set the scene: I’m sitting in my sixth row seat at one of the main shows at the new Moynihan Station stages on 33rd Street (RIP Lincoln Center). The show starts, and I’m obviously enthralled. How could you not be, when you’re basically being pulsated out of your seat by the aggressive amount of bass that the DJs always like to use at these shows? The collection passes by, I’ve done all the celebrity- and people-watching I could possibly do in a 45-minute span of time, I’ve made mental notes of all the pieces I want to try to get my hands on in time for spring, and then it hits me: I can’t wear these clothes, not because the world isn’t a runway, but because I’m not a runway model.
(GIF: Pure Trend)
Considering the amount of time I spend thinking about chicken nuggets, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. I listed my size and my height in the very first piece I did for this column, and, I don’t want to shock you, but I’m pretty sure most designers aren’t trying to cast size 6/8, 5’5″ women in their runway shows. And while I’ve made it a point lately to not let the way that other people look affect my own self-image, it’s hard to do when the whole point of fashion week is to try to imagine yourself in the clothes that these women, who are, essentially, human clothing hangers, are pulling off with ease.
The thing is, though, seeing how thin these models are doesn’t make me want to go to the gym any more, it doesn’t make me want to diet, and it doesn’t make me strive to be as skinny as they are. If anything, it drives me to at a lot more than usual, and honestly, I don’t know why. I like to think that, every time I eat another burger during NYFW, a model out there does it, too, but honestly, it probably subconsciously has to do with me feeling sad that I won’t be able to pull of that gorgeous Christian Siriano jumpsuit as well as the models and the slim celebrities in the front row. Basically, it’s a mini pity party, and the only attendees are me and all of the Pringles that come in the can.
At the same time, though, I’m not really complaining about the nature of the fashion industry. I understand that designers choose tall, thin models to present their collections because, as I said before, it’s the closest they can get to using living, breathing shop mannequins and hangers. Thin models serve to present the clothes without the “distractions” of curves or any sort of womanly figure. And, while the fact that those can even be perceived as unwanted distractions in the fashion industry is disturbing and just inherently wrong, I understand that there’s a time and place where such an emphasis on thinness is acceptable. And when it’s not, or when we’ve decided that enough is enough and that it’s high time to celebrate the fact that women don’t just come in a size 0, there are amazing campaigns like Lane Bryant‘s #PlusIsEqual, model Shaun Ross‘s #InMySkinIWin, and SmartGlamour, a company that serves to empower women of all shapes and sizes.
Because here’s the thing: Unlike Photoshopped ads or celebrity interviews wherein they claim that they “do nothing” to lose weight except for drink a lot of water and be famous, NYFW, at least in my opinion, isn’t here to make you feel bad if you don’t have a body like runway model’s. I mean, sure, it’s not an awesome feeling to look at a Karlie Kloss or a Gigi Hadid and realize that you probably won’t ever be able to look as awesome as they do in normal street clothes, but, frankly, fashion week is about the clothes, not the models. If you’ve let the size of the models get to you, maybe you’re not ready to go to NYFW, since the real purpose of being there is to, first and foremost, appreciate the collections, many of which will be available in your size come spring.
Who knows how I’ll feel come February, though. Maybe I’ll have lost or gained a ton of weight by then, and I’ll be singing a different tune. But, for now, I’m just glad that the stampede of stilettos is over with, I can’t wait to try out all the crazy NYFW beauty trends IRL, and I’m still going to stuff my face with pizza at least once a week. And that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.
…And now I want cookies. Damn you, NYFW.