Does this girl look fat to you? Would you describe her as "a bigger, curvier girl than most of the other bloggers who you see in the press"? This Italian small-time fashion blogger was photographed by big-time (perhaps the inventor the genre) street-fashion blogger The Sartorialist and in a post that is still causing ripples through the Internet, he praised her in a very back-handed way for knowing how to balance her "sturdy legs" with a "strong shoe." Even after thousands of commenters called him out for his bizarre size comparison and even for remarking on her size at all - do you have to be tiny to have good style? - he refused to recant saying , "I get emails all the time from self-professed curvy girls who want to see representations of their size on the site. What sucks is that when I try to put a photograph up to talk about these issues, the post is hijacked over the political correctness of the words."
Two things: First, those purple shoes are amazing and I want them. Gorgeous. Second, it's not her legs, it's the pants. I know that leggings/jeggings/hipster jeans/skinny jeans are all the rage right now but this is case in point of what they do to all women's legs regardless of our size or weight. When you have pants that taper to the ankle they make your thighs look bigger by comparison. It's even worse with a light wash like she's wearing. I hate this and yet of course I own three pairs (remember this post ?) - before you mock, I have to say they are very practical here in the snow-bound north as they are by far the easiest pants to tuck into boots and nobody wants their hems dragging through the slush. But yes, they make my thighs look big. They make everyone's thighs look bigger.
The issue here for me goes way beyond The Sartorialist and hipster jeans on gorgeous Italians. I'm a big fan of fashion blogs. Not the kind put out by lady mags or fashion houses but rather the small - often vintage-esque - blogs that show people's ingenuity in putting together an beautifully crafted outfit. Most of the blogs I read just feature the bloggers themselves but some of them feature snaps of people out on the street. At it's best, it's finding art in the every day - something The Sartorialist has proven he has a keen eye for (if not an apt mouth) - but at it's worst, it's People of Wal-Mart .
It feels unsafe to me. By far most of the subjects of the "fashion" pictures are women, many unaware they are even being photographed. Some bloggers ask permission before they take a picture but many don't. I'm pretty sure that all of the People of Wal-Mart got up there without their knowledge. So when does it become inappropriate to comment on a woman's body if we are fair game even picking up a package of cold medicine in our jammies at 10 o'clock at night? Do we need to pull a Dita Von Teese (side note: I covet her closet) and glam up to shop for lettuce?
Seriously - is this not the cutest cardi ever?? I love her.
The Sartorialist this week proved that even when it's meant to be complimentary - and he is very clear that he fines the Italian woman to be beautiful - it can still be cruel. Can you imagine having thousands of people on the Internet debating whether or not your legs are fat? I shudder. For her part, the woman says she was okay with what he said but she also says her English isn't very good so she didn't understand what he was saying to her on the street.
While many fashion bloggers work very hard to capture beautiful pictures, anyone with a camera phone can snap a pic and post it to the web. I remember in Seattle one day sitting in the park with my kids. They were running through the sprinklers with a bunch of other little kids and it was all happy summer fun until I noticed two men with camera phones taking pictures of the little kids, especially of one little girl (maybe 4 years old) who was only wearing her underpants. I walked over and confronted them and told them I'd called the police - which I had - and they took off quickly. But it shook me up. I understand that there is a huge difference between possible pedophilia and taking an artful shot of a woman you admire for her style but both represent an unasked for commentary about the female body.
It used to be that women risked catcalls walking down the street. Now we risk everything from sexual objectification to praise to public humiliation every time we leave our house? As much as I love looking at beautiful fashion shots, I'm not sure that I'm down with the street fashion blogging trend.
What's your opinion about street fashion blogs? Have you ever been photographed without your permission? What do you think about what The Sartorialist wrote?
Written with love by Charlotte Hilton Andersen for The Great Fitness Experiment (c) 2011. If you enjoyed this, please check out my new book The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everything for more of my crazy antics and uncomfortable over-shares!