Last week, Bryce Dallas Howard, famed actress and star of The Help and Jurassic World, attended the Golden Globes in a dress she bought herself.
Although this may sound like the most mundane news you’ve heard since hearing yet another person accuse Tom Brady of deflating footballs, it was big news if you pay attention to celebrity things (which, in general, I try to avoid). You may ask, “why would a celebrity buying a dress be big news?”, which is a totally understandable question and the answer has me confused.
You see, most celebrities at these events wear pieces made by designers to advertise their lines. Most often, these dresses are in sample sizes, meaning sizes 0-2. However, Bryce Dallas Howard is a size 6 and chose to buy her own dress off the rack because these “sample sizes” don’t include much for a woman who is a size 6. Let me repeat. A size 6.
To which one wonders, who decides these “sample sizes”? Who exactly are they “sampling” for this? Toddlers? The average clothing size for an American woman is between a 12 and 14. Meaning if they were sampling “normal”, average people, their “sample sizes” would look a whole lot different.
But, as we all know, these are not for your typical, average-sized American women. We do not thrust typical, average-sized American women into the spotlight in this country unless they do something extra special. And let’s back up for a second. Bryce Dallas Howard is a size 6, which is still significantly smaller than the size of the average American woman. And yet, she is still excluded from these “sample sizes” because…because why? Because a bunch of designers only want a certain size person wearing their clothes? Because any size over a size 2 isn’t worth dressing in their clothing? Because only a certain size or shape looks good in their dresses? Because money’s tight this year and they’re trying to cut back their fabric usage?
Perhaps what is more disturbing is that it’s not that they create pieces for women size 0-2 and then more for other sizes. I’m not saying there shouldn’t be dresses made for women who are small. Women are all shapes and sizes; some are a naturally a size 0 and some are naturally a size 18 and both are equally beautiful. But the majority of these designers only create pieces for the lithe and lanky. They are, essentially, making the decision that those who do not fit into it are not worth wearing their clothing.
Now let’s take it one step further and look at what it does to women young and old who see and hear about these things.
They hear, “if I weigh too much, I won’t be deserving of the ‘good’ stuff.”
They hear, “if i weigh too much, people won’t pay as much attention to me.”
They hear, “if I weigh too much, I won’t be as good as the others.”
They hear, “if I weigh too much, I won’t be well-liked.”
My heart breaks for everyone who hears that. My heart breaks for the part of myself that can still sometimes hear it, before I shake it from my brain. My heart breaks for the way the media makes us think about size and about women and about body image and about how these things make us stifle the ability to recognize all the goodness in ourselves, even if it’s not exactly what you see on TV or in Us Weekly. My heart breaks because until something changes, women will always feel pressure to look a certain way and believe that in some way, the way their body looks decides something for them when in all actuality, that is absolute bullshit and bears very little, if any, weight in your life.
I starved my body and worked out extensively to try to look just like them but the truth is, looking like them doesn’t make you happy. It makes you tired and irritable and sad and hungry in more ways than one.
Don’t let the media convince you that you’re only beautiful if you look like the red-carpet celebrities. Don’t let the media convince you that you’re only worthy if you look a certain way. Don’t let the media convince you that you need to change yourself to be liked, to be admired, to be respected. Buy your own dress and fucking own it. Believe in your truest of selves that you are beautiful no matter what. Because you are beautiful no matter what, despite how any one designer or magazine or award show or celebrity or any other singular human makes you feel. Let’s all take a hint from BDH and ignore the body shamers, the sizist media and everyone else who pressures us to look a certain way and buy our own dresses.