Co-founder of Modcloth speaks her #FashionTruth

Susan Koger, courtesy of Modcloth

Susan Gregg Koger, courtesy of Modcloth

Earlier this month, Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Modcloth, Susan Gregg Koger, wrote an op-ed piece challenging the fashion industry to change for the better, and create empowering images for all women to aspire.

Says Ms. Koger: “For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved fashion. I love the whole process: the excitement of shopping, the thrill of finding something unique, and that powerful, transformative experience that happens when you put on a garment you love and it makes you feel like the best version of yourself. As the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of ModCloth, I’m proud to call myself a fashion insider; but I’m also deeply disappointed in the way my industry depicts fashion to consumers. I look out, and it seems less about helping people find fashion they love to wear, and more about convincing them that they need to conform to one eerily consistent standard of beauty. A standard built on highly altered and often unrealistic images.”

Ms. Koger went on to say, “I think we can do better.” And she has. In an effort to reduce extreme Photoshopping and change the growing disconnect between consumers and the fashion industry, Modcloth became the first to sign The Brave Girls Alliance ‘Truth in Advertising Heroes Pledge’, an anti-airbrushing petition which aims to “do our best not to change the shape, size, proportion, color and/or remove/enhance the physical features, of the people in our ads in post-production.”

Ms. Susan Gregg Koger is true to her word, that fashion “makes you feel like the best version of yourself.” Brava! I’m buying it!

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Following Nicole on her journey to marriage and self-love

Nicole at her first bridal shower, with her Aunt  - feeling beautify and empowered

Nicole at her first bridal shower, with her Aunt Margaret – feeling beautiful and empowered

Let’s face it: we all have enough negative body speak in our arsenal to drag our mood down by deep degrees. We may find ourselves noticing the things that are changing about our bodies, comparing ourselves to others, and wishing things could be different; the list goes on. For Nicole, creator of Body Boop, whom I first featured on TFIO in early June, body image is an especially delicate issue, because Nicole had struggled with anorexia and bulimia for years. Fortunately, she has been in a healthy cycle of recovery for two years, but the journey is still challenging, especially for Nicole now, as she prepares to be married in September. And especially, when it comes to the fashion …

Here is an example: not long after Nicole and I spoke, she attended two bridal showers. Two showers, two different cities, two different dresses –  and only 2 weeks between. For the first shower, Nicole felt beautiful; as she says, “It was the perfect energy, though out the day.” For the second, however, everything had flip-flopped. Nicole says she felt “ugly” and “uncomfortable.” She was the same person. The dresses were similar. Nothing had changed except her mindset. Thinking about it afterward, Nicole says it was a reminder that the bad feeling you may have one moment, one day, will not last, and you will feel better again.

Last week, Nicole had her first wedding gown fitting, and it proved to be really stressful. Continue reading

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Says Colette: “I plan to start with a new pair of shoes!”

Colette

Colette

Colette de Jounge is at a crossroads in her life: she must reclaim her style, and with it, her sense of self. It all starts with finding the right shoes …

Here is Colette
 
For the last nine years I have been living in rural Virginia, in the country. The real country, with cows and horses, vineyards, and large, open spaces. It has been a completely different lifestyle for me. All my life, I have lived an International and sophisticated lifestyle: Mexico City, Mexico, Sao Paolo, Brazil, Caracus, Venezuela, and also worked in New York City as a bonafide commuter. Virginia represented a completely different lifestyle  …
 
At first, whenever I went out, I dressed as I always had. It was not something that I thought about, but was completely natural to me. People noticed that I looked different and would tell me that they could tell that I wasn’t from the area, from the way I dressed. Continue reading

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Nicole’s Body Boop Message of Self-Acceptance …

Nicole, and yes, she IS!

Nicole, and yes, she IS!

Nicole with her fiancé Photo credit:  Tim Jarosz/Orange 2 Photography

Nicole with her fiancé, James
Photo credit: Tim Jarosz/Orange 2 Photography

Every now and then I meet someone who reminds me why I love to share stories. This is a special story of a lovely 28-year old woman, named Nicole. Nicole is a journalist and the author of Body Boop, a website designed to encourage people to be authentic and comfortable with who they are, with a message that says, ‘you don’t have to be like anyone else or compare yourself to others, anymore.’ It is a message that Nicole had to learn herself, in her young life, as she struggled with the diseases of anorexia and bulimia. Diagnosed when she was 14, and hospitalized for treatment three times in her already young life, Nicole has fought hard to love herself and her body just as she is. As I write this, I am thrilled to tell you that Nicole has been doing very well the past four years, is in a healthy place, and is about to be married in September.

My heart sings when I think of Nicole’s courage and her willingness to share her story so that others can find health and peace and self acceptance. I will continue to follow Nicole in her journey as she prepares for her wedding in a few months. Today, Nicole and I spoke about her relationship with fashion and the role that clothing plays in her life …

MKG: When did you start your blog and how did you choose the name, Body Boop?

Nicole: My blog has been live for one month but it has been a dream of mine for a long time. My background is in journalism and I knew I could write it, but I wanted to make sure that I was completely healthy so that my message would be 100% healthy for everyone else.The word ‘Boop’ is something my fiancé and I use with each other; it means nudge or encouragement and that’s what I want to do for others – encourage. Continue reading

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I’m not buying that!

P1000049 3Barbie and I are about the same age. Actually, she is a few years older than, I but we grew up together just the same. In fact, when I was a young girl living in Southern California, my Dad worked for Barbie creator, Mattel Toys. One thing is for sure; I have never looked like a Barbie doll. Her incredibly tiny waist, her tiptoed feet ready for heels, and her luxurious long blond hair were certainly not ‘me.’ According to VP of Design, Kim Culmone, Barbie’s design comes down to functionality: “Barbie’s body was never designed to be realistic. She was designed for girls to easily dress and undress. And she’s had many bodies over the years, ones that are poseable, ones that are cut for princess cuts, ones that are more realistic … Primarily it’s for function for the little girl, for real life fabrics to be able to be turned and sewn, and have the outfit still fall properly on her body.” While I understand the need to dress Barbie to a young girl’s whim and imagination, this comment completely skirts the issue that when most young girls look at Barbie and play with Barbie, they will not see themselves, nor identify with her unrealistic figure. Not meant to be realistic? It’s all realistic for a young, impressionable girl. I’m not buying that!

Barbie doll

Barbie doll

 

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Cameron Diaz rocks The Body!

Cameron Diaz  - Photo credit: Vantagenews.co.uk

Cameron Diaz – Photo credit: Vantagenews.co.uk

Cameron Diaz didn’t always love her body. Say WHAAAT? I saw Cameron Diaz recently on The Rachael Ray Show, talking about her new book, The Body Book: The Law of Hunger, The Science of Strength, and Other Ways to Love Your Amazing Body, and how our body image plays tricks on us. Cameron said that she was always tall and skinny when what she really wanted to be was curvacious. You see, we spend so much time focusing on what we want to change about ourselves that we are not addressing the beautiful mechanism that is our body and why we should love and care for it. In fact, the point of the book is to love the body you have and be kind enough to yourself to take care of you for the long run and be your personal best. “I’m a science nerd. I like science. This book is about a conversation … ” says Cameron. In it, she explains the importance of understanding your body from a cellular level and how to make the right choices for nutrition, exercise and movement and disciplining your mind.

I am reading it now and I am learning so much about myself. Go get this book! Not so that you can be Cameron Diaz but so that you can be your own best you.

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“I’m not buying that!”

P1000049 3I heard in the news today that Urban Outfitters stopped selling a cropped tee that had been causing a strong reaction. At issue? The tee was covered with the words ‘Depression’ –  sending the message to young women that mental illness makes a fashion statement. At least 5,000 people signed a petition challenging the company to get rid of the shirt. This is the second time that Urban Outfitters has come under fire for a controversial t-shirt. Their response was quick: the company apologized to those who were offended and said it would no longer sell the shirts online.

I’m glad to see Urban Outfitters’ quick response but I am concerned that women, especially young women and girls, are being exposed to negative messages in the first place. I mean, really – do these companies not think through the significance of the messages these tees are sending? Words are not nothing. Words matter. Even on a t-shirt. And I’m not buying that!

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Move over moto – the elusive “get” is the varsity jacket!

The elusive "get" for a teenager: the Varsity Jacket

The elusive “get” for a teenager: the varsity jacket

If you’re a teen, there is one item of clothing highly coveted: the varsity jacket. Perhaps it’s because I am reading Ilene Beckerman’s book, Love, Loss, and What I Wore, which I reference here, but I have been thinking a lot about what clothes mean to us at certain times in our lives. And so there was an interesting moment during my morning walk, when I saw three high-school-aged girls walking ahead of me. At first glance I thought one of the girls was wearing a varsity football jacket and assumed it had been given to her by her boyfriend. Continue reading

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“I’m not buying that!”

P1000049 3My boys are a little older, so it’s been a while since they watched a Disney or Nickelodeon program. The last show I remember us watching together was Drake and Josh. That’s why Nick Schager’s article in LA Weekly, “Disney TV is Poisoning your Daughters,” startled me and truly opened my eyes. Schager writes, “Sitcoms may be predicated on a constant stream of one-liners, but Disney and Teen Nick take the formula to the next level, offering nothing but witless witticisms delivered with maximum, grinning-jackass hamminess …” Furthermore, the role that fashion plays is both confusing to girls and concerning to parents, with the young actors wearing “designer threads … that unsuccessfully straddles the line between tasteful and trampy,” says Schager. Continue reading

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“I’m not buying that!”

Photo of me, taken by my mother, Claire

Photo of me, taken by my mother, Claire

Welcome to my first “I’m not buying that!” … a weekly series of thoughts from me, a fashion outsider. My blog and podcast is called Turning Fashion Inside Out. The fact is that I am not a fashion insider. At 53 years old, I am … a wife, mother, substitute teacher at an all-girls school, writer and lover of fashion. I love sharing my fashion stories and others’ stories about how fashion is central to our self expression and ultimately, our self-esteem. But there is more to turning fashion inside out: there is commentary. There is me …

I went shopping with my mother recently and was disheartened to see how few options there are for women over 70, at least in the suburbs. I’m sure it’s different in larger cities where there is more of everything giving people more options. But here, if you are over 70, stores see dressing as an after-thought. You are relegated to the top floors of the department stores and the pickings are slim. Gone are the stylish prints and fabrics, replaced by over-sized tunics and out-of-date patterns: it’s simple – my mom is not finding clothes she likes. My mom has always been so stylish and someone to whom I look for ideas and trends (and frankly, to borrow clothes!). She is the same woman now that she was then and she still wants to feel stylish in her clothes; no less than when she was in her 20s and 30s and 40s.

Should we be paying LESS attention to those over 70 while at the same time ignoring their style? And continuing to omit them from the fashion scene? I’m not buying that!

 

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