Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

What do YOU think?



We only like young, thin people – even when we are old and not so thin!

The second instalment in the open discussion forum – where you are free to speak your mind and comment how you see fit.
OK, a sweeping generalisation statement perhaps but pay attention – this is the science part:
Psychological research has shown that people who are perceived to be beautiful are given higher scores in job interviews; are generally more successful (financially) in life; receive more promotions than less attractive people; receive lesser sentences in criminal court; and so on. This is known as as the Heuristic Effect – beautiful people are good while unattractive people are bad. We look at the outward appearance and judge the character. It’s common, we all use it as a short cut to difficult decision making processes: risk, danger, financial investments, and people we don’t know.
Full size – Not plus size!

Now the not so scientific bit – anecdotal evidence (AKA my independent research of sewing blogs) has shown that those bloggers, who shall rename nameless, who are thin (size 4-10 both Uk & US), who are young (20-35) demonstrably have more followers than the more traditional, and much more common sewers – who are a more standard size 14-18 and over 35.

It’s worse. On Pattern Review, pictures of slim sewers in their clothes get more views and comments than regular sized people. Really. Go and check for yourself. Just pick at random a page of reviews and compare the skinny with the normal. Regardless of complexity or perfection of the sewn garment – young, thin girls are rewarded with more hits and favourable comments.
OK OK OK. There are always exceptions to any rule and I am making generalisations here – some people have been blogging for years and have built up their supporters; others are extremely talented and worthy of following – others???? I’m not so sure.

Wait… I’m not getting a dig in at young, thin sewers by the way, I’m merely using you as an example. It’s more a social comment on the acceptability of older, rounder women as fashion icons or role models for younger girls.

So why?
Two year s ago a German womans’ magazine – Brigitte – decided to use real models in their photoshoots. They did not employ models and every woman chosen was ‘average’ size and ‘normal’ looking.

The editor, Lebart,  said Today’s models weigh around 23% less than normal women.” The move was a response to complaints by readers who said they had no connection with the women depicted in fashion.

The magazine did retouch the photos of normal women but then they do that with professional skinny models too and full makeup and styling was applied, as you would expect for a fashion magazine. However……..
In two years subscriptions to Brigitte have dropped by nearly 22 per cent while 35 per cent fewer copies were sold in shops since the ‘real people policy was introduced. This is Germany’s best selling women’s magazine by the way, not some little provincial rag. In September this year they went back to the professional model, but, at least, no size zeros.So while we do not like to be reminded of how physically imperfect we are, we apparently do not like to see it in others either. Darling Karl L called the move to real people as absurd as fashion was all about “dreams and illusions.”So, it seems we are still tempted by youth and a media reinforced ideal of beauty. We like thin. We like young. Regardless of culture or country.

Personally, I’m a UK 14. It has taken me a long time to accept that I will NEVER have Scandinavian thighs, Audrey Hepburn’s neck, Bridgette Bardot’s lips, Marilyn’s waist or Farah Fawcett hair. I’m over it. I dress now to suit my shape and possibly my age (most of the time, but that’s for another post…..). Making my own clothes has provided the opportunity to select better and better suited clothes than if I was shopping. It is the reason I went back to sewing in the first place, I just couldn’t find what I wanted in the shops.

What do YOU think?

Photo credits: all over the place on Google Images.


22 thoughts on “What do YOU think?

  1. you knocked the nail right on the head!!

  2. I've read a couple of articles on the Brigiite experiment and seen some of the issues. Personally I loved seeing real women instead of over-perfect models! ! I had heard they were going back to using models. One of the reasons was that it is much more time consuming to use non-professionals as they had to take the time to teach them so much. As to the drop in sales during the time they used "real women" I think most magazines have lost sales over the same period as readers are getting more and more input from free blogs and websites. So i wonder if the drop in readership can be blamed on the fact that they weren't using professional models anymore?

  3. It's what dreams are made of: if I buy or sew something that I've seen on a slim, young, and beautiful woman, then I will look slim, young, and beautiful, too. People aren't rational beings, and that's okey.

  4. I think Katharina has summed it up well, Karl L, too. It's about fantasy. Wow, that woman on the pattern cover looks great, slim, sophisticated, ready for anything! That dress will surely do the same for me. Buy.

  5. I think it's all about marketing and as others have said, the dream that exists that you, too, will look awesome in the same outfit. As far as blogs, the ones I enjoy are the ones that show detailed photographs of the process of creating the garment, photos of the garment on themselves (not on a hanger)and whose style I also enjoy. I did follow one sewing blog for a bit but it became a "what I wore" blog and frankly I don't care what someone wears. 🙂 She has excellent sewng skills (that's apparent) but her clothing always looks two sizes too small, even her shoes! Humans are fickle creatures. We love seeing the unrealistic and beautiful, wishing we ourselves appeared that way, yet at the same time wish media portrayed average and ordinary, the things we loathe in ourselves.

  6. Yes, I agree with you and with the respondents above. I also feel that PR has attracted a lot of new stitchers, and the gallery does show a lot of younger, slimmer "models". I have noticed that certain styles get more hits and comments, and I think that those styles might be assc with the younger, slimmer crowd. For example, baby clothes don't get a lot of hits but wiggle dresses do.

  7. Ooh, can I be controversial and say I've come to totally different (not opposite) conclusions?I think in blogosphere any size of blogger draws a crowd so long as you market yourself or your blog attractively, e.g as a "personality".As for PR: I think people sew for different reasons: sometimes because they can't find a good fit or what they like in the shops and sometimes because it's a hobby they really enjoy. Or maybe it's their profession or because not doing something creative would drive them insane (I'd like to think of myself as a case of the latter who being jobless is trying to make a change for the former). I haven't noticed that slim people get more hits on PR, but I've come to suspect that Vogue patterns and the "latest releases" draw good crowds… It also strikes me as sad but true that self-drafted patterns don't draw many views, particularly when they're for kids. But I'm not bitter. After all, the website is called Pattern Review!

  8. You are right. I think Katherina sums up the situation pretty well. I don't tend to cruise the review gallery on PR, but instead look up specific patterns that I am considering. I find it really useful in that way. I think blogs that feature young women in brightly coloured, retro dresses are fun to look at and have appeal beyond the sewing community. Now, because I really want to sew great garments, it's the careful detailed blogs of middle aged women that are pure gold for me. I learn so much. Get great tips, and often feel inspired. Bright, vintage dresses are fun for a quick glance, but I don't want to sashay down my local high street looking like mini-mouses long lost sister, lol!

  9. Its ironic, isnt it? Some of us sew because the industry doesnt want to sell our size, but we gravitate toward the tiny, trendy without realizing how counterproductive it is. I do skim PR looking for the few popular real sized gals – i know what it looks like on micro, i want to see adults!

  10. I think you're right. And on PR I love that I have an opportunity to meet sewists of all sizes! And to recognize work as I see it – if it's poor work I won't comment, ditto if it is an uninspiring repeat. I like good effort, new work, good reviews, etc. Aren't we lucky to have that forum? I was putting garments on Kollabora but now they have revamped their format/focus along lines you've mentioned – suddenly my things are never seen, hard to find! Oh, am I too old or large or fuddy duddy? I'm laughing as well, but I don't submit now and will delete my things one of these days. I was a bit insulted…

  11. I've thought that the overall economic situation may have effected sales, it could be quite complex to analyse.

  12. I'm with you on this on – I'll look just like that too! Been there, done that and I'm still doing it…

  13. I've fallen for this delusion more times than I care to think about.

  14. I do like to see a pattern made up and worn by a real person too – it gives a better idea of what the actual garment will look like but I suppose if Vogue did this in the beginning then not too many patterns would be sold. They do have their Facebook page where they published sewers pics – so they're not that removed from reality.

  15. Yes, but we all like a wiggle dress and I'm passed the baby clothes stage though I really admire the skill in making small things and some of them are beautiful.

  16. I suppose self drafted patterns are not replicable by the viewers but that doesn't take away from the creativity and skills involved. Interesting point about size vs personality – in a photo there's not much scope for personality.

  17. Ah, maturity and experience – these are the things one just has to wait for in life. I too love to see fun dresses but know they're not for me.

  18. A little bit of reality is called for on some occasions that's true. I've made some clothes that just aren't my style or suitable for my shape because I fell for the 'image' on the pattern envelope. I too like to see the full size versions.

  19. I like PR – there's a few times when I didn't buy a pattern because of the reviews. I haven't heard of Kollabora and you are certainly not too old or large – you have enviable sewing ability and that's what I like.

  20. Great post and such interesting thoughts. I've noticed the same PR trend and have tried to only comment when something really impresses me. But the almost universal appeal of younger, thinner isn't much of a surprise since it's just marketers taking advantage of our innate desire to procreate the species. No, I don't mean with size 0 super models but all cultures are drawn to more symmetrical figures and features and the closer an indivdual is to the ideal, the more likely they are to be considered beautiful. Now, should the media or advertisers try to change that? I think the magazine experiment is interesting. I'm curious about the results of Dove soap's "real women" campaign which has been playing for some years. Is there a difference in showing "real women" in a magzine where we want our wishes for a better life to be revealed or in a commercial where the marketer wants more and more "every day people" to buy a product? Nice discussion, everyone.

  21. I would be interested to know the publication statistics of any other magazine during the same period. Newsweek just announced that it is going digital only and all the crochet magazines have digitial editions. The internet has had a profound effect on magazine publishing. Personally, I find it frustrating trying to extrapolate how a garment would look on me as a plus size when it is modeled by someone significantly smaller than me. Who wants to waste valuable time and resources making a garment for themselves only to discover that the style doesn't suit them?

  22. I know I am waaaaay late for this discussion, but you made me think, so now I have to write it down. I too fall for the fantasy sell every time and while my life away daydreaming over the latest photo of Marion Cotillard in Dior. But over the past year I've fallen so behind in my blog reading that it became very obvious which ones I wasn't following anymore. I now notice that the blogs I've kept are of two types: a handful of celebrity stylist-type feeding my need for fantasy, and then blogs by women with whom I share something in common: taste, size or body shape. And yes, my absolute favorites are indeed those with whom I share all 3!

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