This week I have had the good fortune to experience some thought provoking interviews. For me a good interview or any kind of interaction for that matter, is one that makes me have to think. The questions usually connect what is happening in fashion and society and allow one to go deeper than, “how would you describe your style?”. This week I have been challenged to articulate why I think I might have appeal for so many women across many different demographics. I think the answer is the level of my self-acceptance.
Self-acceptance is neutral. For me, It does not mean you have to love every aspect of who you are or every part of your body. In fact there are parts of my body and my personality that I do not particularly care for but that’s okay because I know that no human being is perfect. Believe me I have tried to love my ankles but still don’t, although I adore my shoulders and chest. I have worked on the things that are really important to work on and the rest…well that is just who I am. This to me is a “realer” kind of self-acceptance. I am a human being who has strengths and who has limitations and that creates the “box” I am in. So the trick becomes how to use the strengths, or in my view, your personal power, to work with your limitations in such a way that you can, when you wish, pop out of that box.
One of the reasons I adore this new generation is that they are really embracing the notion of imperfection. In a recent article I learned of the term, Gaojilian (高及脸), which has become a buzz word for Chinese millennials. It literally translates as “noble face”. It demonstrates their desire to understand beauty in a more diverse, inclusive way, defined by attitude rather than only physical attributes. It is a more intangible concept of beauty. Most importantly, this noble face does not depend on make-up for significant transformation, nor does it diminish with age. Noble faces are serious, can look androgynous and reject the smiling, flirtatiousness that creates the usual standard of a “pretty” woman. It is a backlash against the massive amounts of made-up, photoshopped and surgically rendered images of beauty that have prevailed. Believe me as a “noble face” I often get comments telling me I should smile more, or smile bigger, which quite frankly annoys the hell out of my “imperfect ” self.
The fashion system still has a very long way to go to understand what is meant by true inclusion. The system is still speaking to perfect women’s bodies, not the women inside the bodies. So now we are evolving and see diverse bodies included in magazines and on covers but they are still rather “perfect” conceptualizations of those bodies. I really do not see too many “noble faces”. We still do not get to know the real woman inside the bodies, we are just changing the shape and color of the mannequins. So I fear there will be new conceptualizations of “perfect” bodies: the of color body, the transgendered body, the aging body, the religious body.
What a glorious collaboration it would be if fashion designers, editors and creative directors really collaborated with, and listened to, the women who live inside the bodies. All the “imperfect” women who loves themselves anyway. All the noble faces.
What kinds of women do you think we would start seeing if they did?