One stomach flu... - une femme d'un certain âge

One stomach flu…

I’m just one stomach flu away from my goal weight. 

I laughed uneasily at that line from “Devil Wears Prada,” having been there myself in the past. But I’ll also admit that after being hit with a stomach bug this week, I jumped on the scale yesterday morning.  Yes, I went there. I’m not proud of it.  I did a quick victory lap, chugged some Pepto, and proceeded to get dressed for work.

In searching for the picture of Emily Blunt to post above, I came across several references to the fact that she was asked to lose weight for the movie.

“It’s the only thing I’ve ever done where they wanted me to lose weight. This woman asked, ‘How much do you weigh?’ and when I told her she made a face and said, ‘You have to get in shape.’ I said, ‘Well, really, I think I am in shape.’ “She shook her head as if to say, ‘Poor thing.’ So I had to ask just how thin she wanted me to be, She said, ‘On-the-edge of sickness thin,’ so, I figured, ‘Great, I’ll call you from A&E (Accident and Emergency).'” 

Now a lot of people will say, well that’s because she was playing a character who worked in the Fashion Industry.  And it probably does mirror the reality of that industry. But geez, think about it…you have this legion of women working in Fashion, who are not models, but are starving themselves to fit into the clothes that no one else can fit into, and it just reminds me again about how f’d up the physical standards of the fashion industry (and Hollywood) are. I know that actresses and models have always been smaller than the average woman, but they didn’t used to be required to be skeletal, on-the-edge-of-sickness thin.  Look at street style shots from Fashion Weeks; it’s not just the models who are uber-skinny, but the editors, the assistants, the stylists. Jutting collar bones are the new black. And I think this provides a sort of closed feedback loop ultimately resulting in designers continuing to offer clothing in only a narrow range of sizes, and designs that only look good on very thin bodies.

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  1. April 2, 2011 / 12:03 pm

    I agree with you. Just look at an old movie, especially one from England. There are a range of sizes, some women are plump by today’s standard. Plus they have actresses who actually look old! with wrinkls and all. Our ‘eye’ and our expectations have been warped. Some kind of ‘forever seventeen’ fantasy.

    I know this and yet I am still disappointed with myself when I try something on and my middle is thicker than it used to be.

    I hope you are feeling better but you don’t start eating and put the last few pounds back on. If you’re like me then that’s the next fear!

  2. April 2, 2011 / 1:27 pm

    The women who work for Vogue, Meredith Melling Burke, for example, are ungodly skinny. As is Vera Wang, now, unfortunately. Donna Karan is OK. I wouldn’t want to work in fashion even if you paid me huge, huge, sums. I hope you recover quickly.

  3. Anonymous
    April 2, 2011 / 2:30 pm

    Very well said.

  4. April 2, 2011 / 2:37 pm

    Oh this resonates with me too….
    It is why I like the Dove ads…do you remember last year Ralph Lauren had an ad with a stick insect model who looked like she was deathly ill?
    There was a hug uproar and he ended up pulling the ad.

    We do have the power to email and write letters complaining to the powers that be….collectively we can change the way that women are portrayed.

    Hope that you feel better soon.

  5. April 2, 2011 / 3:58 pm

    As for Fashion Designers and Stylists, anyone and I mean ANYONE, can dress up a tall skinny girl and make her look good. The challenge for the fashion industry is to design clothes that make the rest of us who are not tall, skinny and young, look good.

    As for weight, I’ve given up in that department. After more than a year of going to the gym regularly and working out with a trainer I’ve barely lost a pound.
    But….I stopped caring about my actual poundage. All the weight lifting is making me feel better and gone down one size.

    I had that flu thing myself this year…I hope that you feel better soon.

  6. Katriona
    April 2, 2011 / 5:07 pm

    I think that the fashion magazines don’t want their readers to feel good about themselves, they want them to feel always but never quIte good enough, so they will compensate with shopping for beautiful clothing to hide their not-quite-good-enough bodies…I ve been chubby (admittedly never obese,just the classic ten to twenty five overage) and I’ve been thin, and what I do know is that When I am happy with my body, I shop far, far less for clothing because I feel I look pretty great already.So fashion has a vested interest interest in keeping the bar impossibly high.

  7. April 2, 2011 / 5:52 pm

    I am in such agreement with your insight regarding the closed loop of clothing design. When only one sort of body is acceptable, clothes will be designed for that body alone. It is depressing that illness is the new beautiful.

    Recently, Macy’s sent out a flier filled with models who had clearly been photoshopped to starvation. I sent a letter to Terry J. Lundgren
, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, politely (without sarcasm) describing the problem and suggesting that this was a poor way to advertise. You can guess what response I received (null).

    So where did I put my sewing machine? And how can I (practically) learn to design and sew simple things to wear?

  8. Paula
    April 2, 2011 / 1:40 pm

    you are so right period

  9. Marguerite
    April 2, 2011 / 1:52 pm

    The models are also unnaturally tall for women. Always have been, but why must that be an ideal? Just a hangar for the garment they wear. The most recent Talbots catalog, which I glanced through before tossing, actually has a model with hips! Glad you are past the bug, Pseu.

  10. vicki archer
    April 2, 2011 / 2:18 pm

    If only there were a happy in-between! Hope you feel better soon Trish….xv

  11. Couture Allure Vintage Fashion
    April 2, 2011 / 2:26 pm

    Glad you’re on the mend! We missed you. I couldn’t agree more about the fashion industry. They like to ignore those of us with normal shapes and money to spend.

  12. California Girl
    April 2, 2011 / 3:41 pm

    Reading this just as I’m getting ready to hit the gym. Ah well, there’s a price for everything.

    I loved the show “Ugly Betty” in part because of the contrasts between the every day hard working family of Hispanics from Queens with their decidedly un-model figures and, in Betty’s case, looks.

    When I was a teen, I worked summers at the Hollywood & Vine office of my father. I was out & about alot, running errands and was approached on more than one occasion by modeling scouts. I never followed up any of the interest, partly because I was afraid they’d make me lose too much weight (I was 5’8″ 117lbs) and partly because I didn’t want to be told what was “wrong” with me.

    Now that I’m bearing down on sixty and no longer thin, I wonder “what if…”

  13. Pam @ over50feeling40
    April 2, 2011 / 7:48 pm

    Stomach flu is just the worst…I would rather lose weight any other way. I do think the fashion industry as a whole has improved a little…I think it is Harper’s that includes an editor and columnist now for plus sized women. But agree there is much work to be done. I do not ever know if in my lifetime I will hit, what I would have considered a goal weight…but I am improving! Let’s face it average American women are just not pencils!!

  14. April 3, 2011 / 2:50 am

    I agree with you totally. And it’s so odd, given the prevalence of obesity it the US as a whole, that one industry would be canted so far to the other extreme.

    Really sick, if you think of it.

  15. Susan Tiner
    April 2, 2011 / 9:46 pm

    I’m sorry to hear you’re not feeling well :-(.

    We just saw the Devil Wears Prada. Very, very entertaining.

  16. April 3, 2011 / 10:06 am

    loved these insights! Skeletal is never good x

  17. April 3, 2011 / 11:40 am

    Hi there.
    I like your post.I tottly agree with you. I’m sory because you are not feeling so good. I know that the stomach flu it is worst.
    I hope and i’m sure you will feel much better very soon

  18. April 3, 2011 / 1:48 pm

    Feel better! And when you cdo, check out this Sartorialist post:

    Schuman caught hell for referring to his subject as “sturdy”; clearly his eye has been distorted by his occupation.

    A fashion writer once said “the best dressed women in the world are also the hungriest women in the world.” Depressing and sick.

  19. April 3, 2011 / 1:53 pm

    Hope that you are feeling better! I am in total agreement with your insights re: the narrow range in our culture of what’s considered beautiful. I think that the portrayal of beauty also often excludes a full range of age categories and women of color.

  20. April 3, 2011 / 2:29 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  21. April 3, 2011 / 2:29 pm

    One of the photos I really like of my recent observations in Paris is an attractive but full-figured, fairly short woman, inspiringly well-dressed but of a body type that contrasts sharply with so much of what I see here. Having just been out for a day licking windows and trying on the occasional dress, I’m hyper-aware of how much better clothes look on the tiny sizes (and so many of the women I notice here are tiny). It’s really hard to like our bodies as they are, rather than wishing the degradation of stomach flu on them, yet I’ve been exactly where you are.
    Hope you feel better quickly — indeed, judging from your thoughtful, wise writing, you’re already well on the mend.

    p.s. I’m wondering how we could get Hostess’ hug uproar going — the best typo I’ve seen in a while!

  22. April 3, 2011 / 2:53 pm

    Northmoon – yes, it’s quite interesting to see older movies where not every female character (whether old, young or in between) was stick thin.

    As soon as I rehydrated those two pounds came back, even though I hadn’t eaten anything. Oh well!

    LPC – thanks, I’m well over it now. I used to think I wanted to work in the fashion industry, but am over that too!

    Paula – thanks!

    Marguerite – yes, they are quite tall. If you’ve even been in the same room with a professional model, it becomes quite obvious just how genetically different they are than 98% of us.

    vicki archer – I think we have to create our own happy medium.

    Couture Allure – yes, exactly! It seems like such a wacky business model.

  23. April 3, 2011 / 3:08 pm

    Anonymous – thank you!

    hostess – I remember that and how they took an already very slender girl and photoshopped her into a grotesque image. I agree, we need to write letters and pitch a fit.

    California Girl – I loved Ugly Betty too, very cute show! You’re probably better off for having stayed away from the modeling business, wise move!

    Belle de Ville – thanks, I do feel better. I’ve loved weightlifting in the past for the feeling of increased strength too.

    Katriona – yes, I think that plays into it too.

    Marsha – good for you for sending a letter! We all should do more of that.

  24. April 3, 2011 / 3:16 pm

    Pam – oh yeah, I hate stomach bugs! Fortunately this one was the 24-hour variety. Not just American women, but most women aren’t genetically ectomorphs. Our bodies are designed to carry a certain amount of fat.

    Susan Tiner – thanks, was much better after a couple of days.

    Aunt Snow – I think it goes back to that which is hardest to achieve in any society becomes the most high-status, most desirable. When most people had to work outside, it was soft, pale skin. When most people regularly didn’t get enough to eat, it was corpulence.

    Faux Fuchsia – thanks!

    Mitu Rosu – thank you so much. I’m feeling much better the last couple of days.

  25. April 3, 2011 / 3:24 pm

    Duchesse – I saw that and yes, there’s the closed feedback loop. I almost posted a comment myself giving him hell, but in the past when I’ve posted anything negative, the comment never gets published so I didn’t bother. But I’ll go back and read the comments now, Hah! If that’s “sturdy” well then I’m an aircraft carrier!!

    Style Crone – Thanks! I think in general that’s true, though one now sees more women of color and of age, though all are still quite slender.

    materfamilias – Hug Uproar: It’s The Next Flash Mob! I wonder how much of it is that clothing looks “better” on slimmer bodies vs. what we’ve been conditioned to believe is “better.” I think of Christina Hendricks on Mad Men whose curves do things to sheath dresses that Kate Moss could only dream of…

    Luxe Bytes – I don’t mind the detox, just hate the nausea!! Don’t worry, PLENTY of trip-anticipatory posts coming up! 😀

  26. April 3, 2011 / 4:49 pm

    To tell you the truth, I’m horrified by the skeletal “norm” of beauty in the fashion industry and even more shocked by those who have no scruples in defending it. (Karl Lagerfeld among them.)

    When I was sitting front row center, with a few exceptions, the models weren’t terrifyingly bone thin.

    When I was on a photo shoot a couple of years ago in New York, the makeup artist was recounting a shoot he had recently attended. He said the models were drinking just enough of a Mimosa (champagne and fresh orange juice) to be able to swallow those round cotton balls always on set. The cotton then expands in the stomach and they have the sensation of fullness.

    Also, lots of models smoke, another appetite suppressant. And, maybe I shouldn’t even mention this, but cocaine is quite effective in that regard.

    Of course, I know drugs are probably not the norm, but not eating definitely is.

    Another aside, some of the models are young and still gangly and may be naturally skinny — at least for a couple of years.

    French television did a reportage on young women going to try-outs at the major fashion houses. It was brutal. One said she normally eats three apples a day. She tried one apple, but almost fainted.

    The camera adds 10 pounds so one can only imagine how thin some of these women are.

    I don’t know what to say, Pseu. The magazines, films and television train our eyes and our unconscious to see beauty in thinness — not to the point of anorexia, but thin.

    Clothes hang better on lean and tall, no question about it and as our pal Belle says, it doesn’t take a genius to make those types of abnormal — as in not the body most women were born with — morphologies look great in designers creations.

    Also, to protect their egotistical reality designers stop their sizes at 10.

    Frenchwomen are thin, and yes they work at it. It does not come naturally, but they are living, breathing proof that there is an enormous difference between thin normal and deathly thin. And, as we all know they certainly know how to wear their clothes.

    Whew. Just don’t get me started.

  27. April 3, 2011 / 4:50 pm

    Oh, Pseu, you had me so worked up I clicked before I told you I hope you feel better.

  28. April 3, 2011 / 7:04 pm

    Tish Jett – one always hears horrifying stories of what models do to maintain their low weights but cotton balls?? I shudder to think of it. I understand all of the rationales behind designing for only the very thin/tall (women’s bodies have more variety, fabric widths, etc.) but it still doesn’t justify the kind of emaciation we’re seeing today (and again, not just on the models, but the women who work behind the scenes). The designers who figure out how to design and produce for a variety of body types will have a license to print money.

    Jemajo – thanks, and I wonder too if they’ll be more susceptible to illnesses like osteoporosis and stress fractures. A friend of mine who was anorexic did some damage to her heart, as the body cannibalizes its own muscle tissue under conditions of starvation.

  29. April 3, 2011 / 9:11 pm

    Nothing like the Flu Diet, except perhaps the Stress Diet – or the best one I ever “survived” – The Divorce Diet.

  30. LuxeBytes
    April 3, 2011 / 2:47 pm

    I’m a weirdo: I always kind of like getting sick. Firstly, I figure my body needs the rest and is going to take it, by force, if necessary. Secondly, it always feels like a purge or a letting of toxins. Even when I get migraines (only twice a year), I feel lighter and better afterward because I know that they only occur when emotional stress has built up and needs release.

    Anyhoodle, hope you’re on the mend.

    Would love to hear about your plans for France and Italy sometime, if you’d care to share ….

  31. Katriona
    April 3, 2011 / 10:46 pm

    I have two female friends in the film industry who shall remain nameless, now brushing up against 50, who were soextremely slender from their draconian regimes, that at thirty five or so were diagnosed with osteoporosis. One was told she had the bones of a sixty year old woman.
    It’s interesting, French women are known for their physical discipline but the first time I saw a chubby woman in a romantic film playing the lead was Marie Christine Barrault in Cousin Cousine. She was unapologetically fat and a serious classical beauty.Her male costar was also a big bellied Teddy bear handsome man and they were the most sensual couple I had ever seen.There was something subversive and shocking about seeing that much flesh onscreen.

  32. April 3, 2011 / 11:11 pm

    I shared my house with a massage therapist for a major dance company. The women ate pea-sized bits of cellulose sponge for the reason Trish cites. There is also anorexia in the yoga world. *Some* yoga instructors adopt certain diets under the banner of “health” that severely limit calories. It is a screen for anorexia.

    Some people who make food the enemy get good at disguising the real issue, their relationship to it.

  33. Jemajo
    April 3, 2011 / 5:42 pm

    Sorry about your tummy flu – glad you are up and about again!
    Enjoyed your comments about the “skin ‘n bones” industry, and can’t help wondering if the beauties of the silver screen (pre-1960) would even get a look-in today? All of them were famous for their curves and glowing skin and hair – not for their protruding hip bones, cheek bones, shoulder bones, and the ones that frighten me: the chest bones and knee bones! Wonder how their bodies will behave when they reach “a certain age” ?

  34. sgillie
    April 4, 2011 / 2:05 am

    Sorry I’ve come late to this discussion.

    Check out Style Rookie. Only a kid, she’s sized up the industry as “highschoolish” and she’s moving on.

    There’s lots not to like about the industry, but remember, we’ll always love clothes, fashion, make-up and style, style, style.

  35. Jemajo
    April 4, 2011 / 6:25 am

    DUCHESSE, you have shocked me!
    “The women ate pea-sized bits of cellulose sponge “.

    I thought I had read everything with the comment from TISH JET about Champagne and orange juice to wash down cotton balls! What kind of digestive system do these women have?

    MARSHA, I have officially given up on trying to find nice clothes, well made (flattering design and blouses that don’t gape, etc.) and in colours that suit me. I’m learning to make them myself. I follow a lot of great blogs and you get so much information from them. Pattern is great for personal experiences with patterns, and many bloggers give great tips on altering your existing clothes.
    Leave the Chain Stores and join the Haute Couture set! 😀

  36. April 4, 2011 / 10:44 pm

    This reminds me of when I was modeling in a hair show in the ’90s. The dresser was like wow, you’re skinny, how much do you weigh? I said that I weighed X among. She said, you look thinner than that…just tell people X minus 10.

  37. April 5, 2011 / 3:31 pm

    Late to the party, but I’ve enjoyed your post and the comments. I also enjoyed the Sartoralist’s discussion there as well (and personally don’t see “curvy” as a negative word).

    It reminds me of the movie “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” – the movie is Swedish, the actors are Swedish and refreshingly “human” looking in weight and age. There was nothing “wrong” with that!

    Hope you’ve recovered- it took me about a week to feel normal after that dang flu!!

  38. Marie-Christine
    April 6, 2011 / 6:56 am

    1970: models 8% thinner than average women. 2010: 25%. Think about that next time you buy a fashion magazine.

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