How to look your best: hint… it does not involve emulating Barbie+comment
Elisabeth recently wrote about her positive experiences with Barbie when she was a kid. As coincidence would have it, the same day she submitted her article I found myself in the Barbie isle of Target for the first time. (As a work assignment I had to buy a Ken doll that I could ‘dress’ up like a male stripper to pop out of a cake. Yeah, my work gets weird sometimes). I have to admit I was surprised and a little dismayed as to what I found.
Gone, it seems are the positive, career-aspirational Barbies Elisabeth remembers so fondly from her youth, replaced with an entire wall of ‘Fashionista’ Barbies. Apparently Barbie is no longer interested in putting in the work required to be a doctor or teacher or veterinarian. If the toy section at the Target in Hollywood is to be believed, Barbie’s new aspiration in life is to be… a Kardashian.
Just look at what Mattel has deemed ‘fashionista’… short, tight and tacky. Though I’m tempted to go on a rant about why we would allow our children to play with dolls that reflect the absolute worst about popular culture, that isn’t actually my area of concern at present (though certainly concerning). My area of focus for the moment is about real-life grown women. Much like Claudia lamented in her article ‘Why Are We Dressing Like Sluts?’, more and more women are choosing the ‘fashionista Barbie’ style of dress for themselves. And it isn’t pretty.
If Barbie – the doll who’s proportions, when applied to a real woman, would make her 5 foot nine inches and 110 pounds, with a 39 inch bust and an 18 inch waist looks tacky in these outfits, the average flesh and blood lady (who has a BMI over 0%) looks even more so. I realize I risk sounding like an old lady here, preaching about kids these days and their get-ups… but honestly, I’m really not bothered about what is proper or ladylike. I’m not criticizing the new trend in dresses that are low-cut, short and tight because I think them to be overly immodest. I’m criticizing them because, for most of us non-starlets who’s Friday night involves walking into a bar instead of walking down a red carpet, this look isn’t doing us any favors. It just isn’t flattering.
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that skinny is synonymous with sexy, or that the only women who should attempt sexy outfits are underfed waifs. I’m a big fan of curves. That does not mean, however, that jumping on a fashion trend regardless of one’s body type is the way to go. Of course you can wear anything you want, regardless of your size or shape, but that doesn’t mean it will look good. When summer comes around, I’m always tempted to try and pull off a pair of short linen shorts with some strappy espadrilles, because I love that look. Unfortunately, I was not blessed with shapely legs or slender ankles. I could stay in denial about the reality of my body, go ahead and wear the shorts and sandals, and then cringe every time I see a picture of myself in said outfit, or I could accept my body, highlight the positives and not want to cry when I see photographic evidence of myself. I’ve seen What Not To Wear. I choose the latter. Unless you’re a swimsuit model, chances are less (revealing) will be more (flattering).
There’s nothing wrong with showing some skin, but selectivity is the key to success. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that showing more is sexier. One need only go to a nude beach to see the fallacy of this thinking. I honestly believe a little mystery increases sex appeal, it does not diminish it. Even if you are blessed with a great rack and fabulous legs, in 99% of occasions, you’ll do better to pick an outfit that highlights one or the other, not both. Direct the eye where you want it to go, and make them guess a little bit at the rest.
The same is true of make-up. I definitely don’t subscribe to the Kardashian school of make-up. They tend to wear the same amount of makeup if they are going to get a manicure as they do when they go to a movie premiere… which is to say a LOT. Lately, it seems more and more women are thinking if a smoky eye is sexy and a bold lip color is sexy, then a smoky eye with a bold lip color is ever better. Not so, I say. Instead of looking hot, you may end up looking like a drag queen. If you feel like having a dramatic eye (which I think is better reserved for evening looks, but maybe I’m old-fashioned like that), then go with a subtler, neutral lip. If you feel like rocking some fabulously red lips, then go for a more subdued eye. Pick up team. Women love to play with makeup, and there’s nothing wrong with it. If your goal is to look attractive, however, (particularly if it is to look attractive to the opposite sex) makeup is meant to highlight and accentuate your feature, not to obscure them. What works on the red carpet or in a magazine (and I’ll take issue with whether the Kardashian school of dress and makeup actually does work at all) rarely translates directly into real life.
I’m all for looking and feeling sexy. I’m all for vamping it up. There is, however, a difference between vamp and tramp. You want to look like a sexy, confident woman, not Fashionista Barbie.