Fashion Institute’s New Exhibit is About Body Politics

Courtesy: FIT

New from the museum at Fashion Institute of Technology: The Body: Fashion and Physique, is an exhibition opening this week that examines the complex history of the “ideal” body in fashion and considers the relationship between the fashion industry and body politics from the 18th century to the present. “Garments are supplemented with images from the popular press, fashion media, film, and other sources to demonstrate how the fashion industry has contributed to both the marginalization and celebration of certain body types within our culture.” When curator of the Museum at FIT, Emma McClendon, was asked about where our society is now in terms of the ‘idea body image,’ her response was deep and thought-provoking: “I think that increasingly there is no single ideal fashionable body. Most runway shows and magazines continue to feature primarily white, thin, young models, but the internet and social media have opened up the industry, giving bloggers and consumers a much more powerful voice to challenge normative body ideals and expand our notion of what a fashionable body is. Several young designers, including Becca McCharen-Tran of Chromat and Christian Siriano, are using their brands to promote a much more inclusive view of the fashionable body. I hope that other brands will join them so that we can continue to expand the fashion industry to make it much more inclusive.”

I am seeing this exhibit! I’m buying it!!


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“Blue Jeans: A Symbol of My Recovery”

Nicole in her denim shorts

Beautiful words from my friend, Nicole – on the purchase of her new jean shorts

“I’ve always been hippy, with big, strong legs. My family is Lebanese, and I have always fought against my natural body type and shape, falling into life-threatening battles with anorexia and bulimia through my teens and my 20s. A couple of years ago, after the pressure of fitting into a wedding dress fell away, I noticed that I was letting myself be happy and enjoying time with my husband. That meant not torturing myself at the gym and eating and drinking what I wanted, when I wanted. Pair that with some serious medical difficulties last year, and guess what folks: I gained weight.

I am now what the fashion industry would consider a plus size woman. My BMI would say that I am obese. This makes finding peace extremely hard and finding clothes that fit me even harder.

But last week, I found a pair of JEAN SHORTS – that fit me! No gap in the back, not too short. They truly make me feel sassy and beautiful. It has been the most emotional road accepting who I am and what I look like but having this pair of shorts is a symbol of my recovery and my constant journey to peace and happiness. It is my hope that all fashion designers will understand how much that means to their consumers. I plan to have a great summer in my new shorts.” ~ Nicole Rohr Stephani

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Make Room for a Body-Changing Documentary

Straight/Curve Documentary

Straight/Curve Documentary

I just want to see every size represented – no labels – all of us.” Heather Hazzan, model featured in the documentary, Straight/Curve

I have spent a lot of time talking on TFIO about the importance of positive body image. Now there is a documentary called “Straight/Curve” set to release the summer of 2016 and it looks awesome! Directed by Jenny McQuaile, Straight/Curve is an insider look at the fashion and modeling industries that exposes the questions of size and body image that have been unaddressed for too long. McQuaile told Glamour Magazine:  “When, how, and why did size zero become the norm when two thirds of women are considered ‘plus-size’ sitting between a size 10 to 14? Our documentary will examine this question. There’s always been a complex relationship between the fashion industry, the media, and body image and we’re finally making a film that will investigate that.”

Like Heather Hazzan, I too look forward to the day when we will see every woman represented – but without any size labels – just the women we are. Take a peek at the teaser trailer. I cannot wait for the summer release!

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I Am a One-Piece Kind of Girl!

IMG_3818Even as a teenager I preferred wearing a one-piece swimsuit. I think there was one bikini in my arsenal but I don’t remember it well. For as long as I have been wearing swimsuits, I have been a one-piece kind of girl. It’s a personal choice that I can’t explain. I only know that wearing a swimsuit is one of the most vulnerable things we do because it’s the smallest amount of clothing we wear in public. How we feel in it is everything. Of course, I am no longer a teenager – I am a woman aware of my changing-body. Now more than ever I look to my swimsuit to help me feel the best about myself. My vulnerable self. For me, that is still a one-piece.

I bought this one-piece Lisa Curran swimsuit last year, after owning my others until they were threadbare. Lisa Curran’s attention to detail and use of the finest fabrics provides me the right fit to enhance my confidence.

Wear what you love this summer – any swimsuit style that feels right for you.

Photo by Cheryl Kaplan

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Say it with me: I am Enough!

i_am_enoughHave you had that moment when you say to yourself: “I am not (fill in the blank) enough?” As women we often look to our bodies to fill in that missing word. I have done that. I have questioned myself and wished I could change certain things about me. After much self exploration, I have finally come to a place where I can say with conviction, “I am enough.” That is the most important thing we can say to ourselves for healthy, happy, wholehearted living.

I recently heard about the inspiring work of Brené Brown, research professor at the University of Houston, and author of several books. Ms. Brown calls herself a researcher and a storyteller; she has spent the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. Big stuff! Listen to what Ms. Brown has to say on the subject: “This is what I have found: to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen; to love with our whole hearts even though there is no guarantee, and that’s really hard, and I can tell you as a parent, that’s excruciatingly difficult; to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of kind of terror when we’re wondering, ‘can I love you this much?’ … and the last which I think is probably the most important, is to believe that we are enough. Because when we work from a place, I believe, that says, ‘I’m enough,’ then we stop screaming and start listening. We’re kinder and gentler to those around us and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.”

So, say it with me: I am enough! And let’s let the acceptance and the joy make its way in.

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Tree Change Dolls Bring New Life

The transformative 'make-under' of Sonia Singh's Tree Change Doll (photo courtesy of Sonia Singh)

The transformative ‘make-under’ of Sonia Singh’s Tree Change Doll                                               (photo courtesy of Sonia Singh of Tree Change Dolls)

I grew up with my four sisters in Tasmania playing outdoors a lot and most of our toys were second-hand, ” Sonia Singh, creator of Tree Change Dolls

When my friend Karen shared this sweet story about Tasmanian artist Sonia Singh and her project to create Tree Change Dolls, I was touched. You see, Sonia Singh and her mother find discarded dolls and give them a new lease on life by giving them a complete and organic ‘make-under.’ The results are immediate for the young girls who love dolls and want to play with them. Because not only is Ms. Singh giving these dolls a new life but she is also creating an opportunity for girls to actually see themselves in the dolls, who appear more natural and child-like.

Ms. Singh began by collecting discarded Bratz dolls at local flea markets. With loving care she began the process of removing their heavy makeup (Bratz dolls sport heavy makeup) and then creating a fresh palette. Ms. Singh redesigned each face to look natural and with the help of her mother, an expert knitter who created original outfits for the dolls, renamed them Tree Change Dolls.  After posting her story locally to her Facebook friends it immediately when viral touching a chord with people everywhere. Says Ms. Singh: “I’m really happy that my work has not just inspired people in terms of dolls and toys, but opened some discussions about issues to do with women in society. I’ve had a few really nice emails from children. I had a really nice email from two little girls in Vienna who said I had inspired them to have a go themselves to create their own dolls. I think that’s lovely.”

I think that’s lovely too, Ms. Singh! Read more about artist Sonia Singh and her Tree Change Dolls, here. Image courtesy of  Sonia Singh’s of Tree Change Dolls.

Note: Turning Fashion Inside Out and Melissa Kaplan Guarino were not compensated for this endorsement. All opinions are my own.

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Courtney says, “Swoop and Scoop!”

Find a good bra fitter, like Courtney

Find the right-fitting bra and a knowledgeable fitter, like Courtney

When you’re wearing the wrong bra size your clothes don’t look right. You become so hard on yourself and your body image takes a hit. But when you try on the right bra and see what you have been missing and how your clothes should fit, you realize that it’s not you. It’s the bra!” ~ Courtney Auchter

When I heard Halle Berry this week, talking about French women and the close attention they pay to their lingerie, I took a long, hard look at my own bras. I have written about the importance of a good-fitting bra and I certainly stand by my words, but somehow, I lost my own way. I have been wearing the same bra every day for far too long. It was time for me to do something about it.

Wearing a v-neck tee by Splendid I took myself to Nordstrom, the right destination for professional bra fitters. Once there, Courtney Auchter took care of me from start to finish. As she and I entered the dressing room I remarked that I was embarrassed to show her the state of my bra. Courtney was sweet and understanding; there was no judgment. She began by measuring me and we went from there. Continue reading

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Halle Berry wants American women to be a little more Scandalous!

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Halle Berry: “I think I have a pulse on what American women want.”                                             Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Today is a big day for Oscar-winning actress, and now entrepreneur, Halle Berry. She is launching the iconic French lingerie brand, Scandale Paris, and teaming up with Target (in select Target stores and on Why lingerie, and why now? Berry discovered the 80-year old brand while shopping in Paris, fell in love with it, and wanted to give it new life, globally. Says Berry: “I am excited for the U.S. debut to be at Target and to launch the brand globally in 2015. I look forward to giving more women the chance to enjoy what European women have come to love for more than eight decades.”

Because on a basic level, Berry understands the importance of a good bra. And she wants American women to feel as good about themselves from the inside-out as French women do. As Berry says, “What I’ve learned about French women is that they always look like they’re not going to be caught in the emergency room not prepared. With their clothes off, they’re going to look fabulous! I think that’s really important. And when you can bring it, this kind of quality at a good price, every woman can have a collection of it. You don’t have to have one bra that you just wear until it’s dead.”

I understand the importance of a good-fitting bra, too; I wrote about it on TFIO two years ago. And yet, I am still one of those American women wearing worn-out bras and underwear. And I would not want to be caught in an emergency with my lingerie! No way. So, this news is a wake-up call for me. This week, I am heading to find a good-fitting bra or two, and will share the fitting process with you. And who knows, I may end up at Target myself. After all, the price point for the Scandale Paris 10-piece collection ranges from $7 – $18. Now that’s Scandalous!

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Nicole Gets Married

Nicole is married!

Nicole gets married!   Photo credit: Jacob Leatherman

Here is news to celebrate: Nicole, founder and creator of the website, Body Boop, got married last month! I met Nicole last June, when I featured her on TFIO, sharing her message to love and accept ourselves just as we are. Nicole, who struggled for years with anorexia and bulimia, has been building back her life with courage and conviction. I later followed Nicole as she shopped for a wedding dress and dealt with the body issues that came with that process. And now, I am thrilled to share that Nicole is happily married! I am so impressed by Nicole’s ability to not only tell her story, but also to help so many others who may be struggling at this very moment in time. What a difference Nicole is making, and I can’t wait to see how far she goes!!

Here, in her own words, Nicole talks about being a bride:

So, no, I was not the skinniest bride. There are those out there who might think, oh, she could have lost a few lbs. for something like this. And they can say that. I have to keep reminding myself, even as I’m looking through the photos that are coming in, that I am so incredibly happy in my life right now and that I felt the most beautiful I have ever felt on that day. I can criticize my stomach or my arms or my double chin in those photos all day long, but that day was magic and I felt gorgeous. It will be a mission of mine to keep that feeling with me at all times.” ~ Nicole

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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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