Tuesday, February 24, 2009

No Trousers Day: Are We a Body Conscious Nation?

Scores of Brits braved the chilly weather recently and stripped to their underwear on the London Underground to celebrate the fourth annual No Trousers Day. This quirky event, the brainchild of New York-based prank collective Improv Everywhere, has spread to more than 20 countries and 60 cities across the world.
But while some Brits are clearly comfortable baring all whatever the weather, the UK Centre for Appearance Research suggests that 90% of British women feel some kind of anxiety about their body image, while only one in eight women considers themselves to be attractive.
recent survey by the hotel chain Travelodge also revealed that both men and women were most self-conscious about their stomachs. Legs were a big worry for women too, followed by their bottoms, arms and hips.
The debate over the lack of realistic female role models in TV, film and fashion, and the effect that this has on women and young girls, has continued for many years. The voluptuous Christina Hendricks (size 14) sashaying across the office in Mad Men is a rarity; there are very few ‘average’ sized women on our screens. Hendricks even complained that she couldn’t find a dress to fit her for the 2010 Emmy Awards, as the majority of designer samples were a size 0 or 2 (UK sizes 4 or 6).
The average UK woman is 5 foot 4 and a size 14 to 16, the same size as the very beautiful and talented singer-songwriter Adele. However, the majority of fashion models are a minimum of 5 foot 7, and models of size 12 and above are described as ‘plus-size’, despite being below the national average. Combined with the fact that many high-street stores only stock limited ranges above a size 14, it’s not surprising that a high proportion of women are sometimes left feeling inadequate about their size.
While women profess to be self-conscious about their bodies, in the last few years there have been a growing number of media campaigns using 'real' women to promote the natural variety of female beauty. The Dove Real Beauty ad campaigns, which began in 2004, recruited women of all shapes, stripped them down to their underwear and banned the airbrush. The result was a massive boost in sales for their beauty products.
In 2012, lingerie brand Boux Avenue cast size 16 model Robyn Lawley as the face of their season’s collection. Their explanation was simple: “because Robyn is stunning”.
In the wake of all this, the UK’s first ever London Plus Sized Fashion Weekend will be held in February 2013. The event intends to promote larger models and "connect the dots” between retailers, designers and the real consumers who drive demand.

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