Dress Code

The 2022 book shown above should be required reading.

The author is the Fashion Features Director at Elle magazine.

It’s a biting, incisive critique of the fashion industry, the Instagram Influencer trend, and the obsession with self-care.

I was born in the first year of Generation X. I have zero interest in engaging in the white-women influencer self-care practices or in buying the products they’re hawking.

The only form of self-care I’ve adopted is eating well, walking everywhere, and exercising 2x per week for 30 minutes as often as possible.

In 2011 when I turned 46 I decided that I had to start doing strength training. Before that I hadn’t lifted one 5-pound weight.

In January 2014 three years later I could dead lift 205 pounds at the gym.

No–I didn’t start “lifting” to lose weight. I didn’t do this to attract a man.

In February 2011 I was in a pizzeria having a slice. I could only eat half the slice, and threw the rest away.

I had the sense that something terrible had happened and this was verified that night.

I decided right then that I must start strength training. When women are going through a hard time I doubt most of us in an instant think that the solution is to lift weights.

I’ve failed at performing other acts of self-care. What struck me about Dress Code is the idea that self-care has become an impossible standard to live up to.

I don’t light candles (I’m a firefighter’s daughter afraid my apartment would go up in flames).

Nor am I keen to buy a product like Glossier lip liner in an attempt to feel good.

“Shopping in my closet” to create new outfits doesn’t cost a dime. Listening to music on audacy.com is free too. Checking books out of the library saves money as well.

What upsets me (why?) is the reference to how other women’s ugly bodies are not displayed and fawned over in the fashion media and Instagram accounts.

First: Everyone living on earth is beautiful. There are no ugly bodies in my view.

Why do critics persist in using the term ugly to describe bodies that don’t fit the fashion norm the critics rail against?

Too often women internalize shame about our bodies.

Do you want to know the only reason I exercise and eat well?

My father had Stage 3 colon cancer that spread to his liver.

My great-aunt, grandfather, and 57-year old cousin were in comas at the end of their lives.

My mother had breast cancer. One other aunt had cancer.

With that track record in my family history I won’t take chances by sitting on the couch watching TV all night.

In the epilogue to Dress Code author Hyland gives the rosy view that things appear to be changing and will get ever better in terms of the representation of women on social media.

Do you want to feel good? Then do good. I found a way to do this that I’ll talk about in a coming blog entry.

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