Why I Turned My Back On FashionIliza Shlesinger

Fashion has never been my friend. For a bit it was my enemy and now it’s like that annoying girl who I don’t like but still have to see at parties.

Fashion is about whatever makes the individual feel good and, as a teenager, it never made me feel good. Or pretty. Or like anything other than an awkward water buffalo who found a rag and tried to play dress up. As a result, I turned my back on fashion at an early age and I’ve been a proud wearer of vintage T shirts ever since. I’ve taken a stance against societies sartorial pressures. Girls, just because it’s in style doesn’t mean it’s inspired.

Sure I’ll dress up for events or parties with the help of every girlfriend I have (cut to me frantically sending pics of all my outfits and texting phrases like “AM I TOO OLD FOR A WHITE MINI SKIRT?”) – but even then I find myself struggling with how to wear a lot of the clothes out there. What angers me is the societal pressure on women to be in shape, and even when we are, clothes still don’t fit right.

It’s almost as if the designers create them in a vacuum and put them in stores with the mission statement of “this will fit at least one model out there, if it’s not you, it’s not our problem.”

For me it all started around 14 with my chest. When you have DD boobs at 14, on a tiny body, it sort of turns all clothing into your enemy. 32DD at 14? It sounds like I’m bragging but I’m not. While all my girlfriends were buying adorable floral B cup bras at Victoria’s Secret, I had to make the cross town trip to this speciality lingerie store called “Olga’s Intimates” with my mother so an elderly Russian woman could fish me out a decent fitting old lady bra from her Island of Misfit Undergarments. “Oh, the straps are 2 inches wide, there are 5 hooks in the back and it only comes in Grandma Beige? Awesome. No I don’t feel like a work mule being strapped into a harness for a day of plowing at all, this is great! I feel so pretty! Where’s my sugar cube!?”

You know what’s weird? Shopping at Fredericks of Hollywood at 16 in a desperate attempt to get a pretty bra because only women with giant fake boobs share your measurements. No girl should have to see crotchless panties on a mannequin before they’ve even taken a driving exam.

I know what you’re thinking “Still, you had boobs” true. BUT, if it makes you feel any better I also had grown woman thighs at 15.  Super fun to get out of the pool and see your skin glistening in the sun and realize it’s not your skin, it’s your stretch marks.

When clothing didn’t fit my chest, I found myself either going up a size, so my clothes were baggy or going down a size so they would fit the rest of my body, resulting in me pretty much always looking like a Hooters waitress. I never looked quite put together and that was because fashion was, is and always will be made for 3 body types: S, M and L. Any part of your body that doesn’t fit within the measurements of the pre-determined sizes and the whole outfit gets thrown out of whack. Yes, I’m talking to you blouse that fits perfectly in the arms and waist but has that one middle button holding on for dear life right in the center of my chest. Good work soldier. I swear one time I looked closely at that button and saw it sweating.

Because nothing ever fit right, right off the rack, I developed a bad attitude and started questioning everything we as women are meant to wear. There was a time from about 2003-2008 where the answer to everything was “just throw on a fun blazer” and I honestly can’t think of an article of clothing that makes a girl with big boobs or prominent shoulders feel more like a hulking 80’s mom than a blazer. Ugh.

Try on 10 tank tops and 9/10 times your bra is gonna show on the side. So, what’s the subtext here, American Apparel? James Perse? Are women supposed to, what? Not wear bras? Are our bras supposed to show? If so, why? So the two options left for girls are go braless or show us your underwear.  A woman’s decision to look “available” or “sexy” should be wholly her own and not at the mercy of the constraints of her clothing.

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  1. I am totally with ya! I had the exact same experience when I was 14/15 years old…all of my friends would be like “Why can’t you wear cute bras? I don’t understand how your boobs can be bigger than the bra sizes at Victoria Secret?” It’s like come on, just get that it is possible to have bigger boobs than a size C with a small waist and appreciate your small B’s and the fact that you don’t have to wear grandma colored bra’s from a specialty store in the cities. That yes, always had a million hooks and made you feel like you couldn’t fully breathe while you wore it. And yeah, why did they always have to be the ugly beige color? It’s like really – not even black…I would have died for a black one. Even to this day, when I go into a store and see that a black bra is there in my crazy “not-average” size, it’s like it’s Christmas all over again.