Why I Hate Being Told to Shop For My Body Type.

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So, I have a bit of a confession to make. 

I’m all for media awareness and against promoting unrealistic images of women…but I still buy magazines. Specifically, I have subscriptions to Cosmo and Women’s Health, and neither or which are going anywhere anytime soon. By this point in my relationship with my body and with the media, I’m able to recognize photoshopped images for what they are – fake, altered, and not something to see as inspiration.

Enslaved

(img source)

So, I read the articles, I look at the fashion pages and pretend like I have an inkling about how to put a stylish outfit together, and read all the ‘true life’ stuff. 

But something that I skip over because it makes me a bit ragey? Anything that tells me how to ‘shop my shape’, or what kind of styles/clothes people with certain body types should be wearing. 

First of all, from what I’ve seen, most magazines offer basic body types: apple, pear, boy-ish, or athletic. So to begin with, only the fourth one of those descriptions sounds flattering. If you’re not athletic, you’re being compared to a fruit or you’re told that you resemble the opposite sex. Non particularly sexy-sounding. And somehow, I doubt they’re able to encompass every female body type in four different varieties.

I’m annoyed with them because I don’t think I (or the vast majority of women) fit in ANY of them straight-up. I don’t really have hips to speak of, which puts me in the ‘boyish’ category, my shoulders have gotten broader in the last year, which falls under the ‘athletic’ category, but I naturally put weight on in my stomach, which makes me an ‘apple’. See the frustration there? It doesn’t help that the models these features tend to showcase look almost EXACTLY alike – or they actually use the same model to show each piece. Cue more confusion.

Body shape

I mean, who looks EXACTLY like one one of these prototypes? (img source)

I’ve also noticed that the emphasis in these articles is on how to ‘hide’ certain aspects associated with that body type. 

Apple shape? Wear a tankini to the beach to hide the belly pooch!

Athletic? Wear ruffles to soften your muscle-y look.

Boyish? Wear jeans that add ‘dimension’.

It’ all has a bit of negative connotation, doesn’t it? How to hide certain elements of your ‘body type’. 

When I did read these articles, I would associate my body type with an ‘apple’. So the tips I got all emphasized hiding your belly. I’d look at that and think “oh shit…there goes all my bikinis, low rise jeans, and anything else that doesn’t zip up to under my bellybutton. I can’t let anyone see that my stomach has a bit of a roundness to it!” After thinking that for years, I’m at the point where my attitude is ‘fuck it.’ I wear bikinis and low rise jeans – because I LIKE them. My wardrobe contains bits of everything that makes me feel good.

Beautiful

(source)

So no, I don’t shop for my body type. I hate being told to do so. I ignore it, and go for what I think looks pretty on the rack and looks pretty on me. I don’t focus on what body parts to hide or disguise away, and instead focus on emphasizing what I love about myself. I think my current attitude reflects the work I’ve put into in repairing my body image over the last few years – instead of looking in the mirror and focusing on what I need to cover up or try to disguise, I just immediately turn to what I like and like to emphasize.

I’m all for buying what you think you look best in. If you want to wear a bikini, then wear one – even if a magazine tells you that you should be wearing a one piece. Wear what YOU think looks flattering. I fully believe that confidence makes an outfit or a style, or a look – if you think you look awesome, other people with recognize and respect that.

So wear what you feel comfortable in, no matter what. Wear the bikini, wear the shorts or the tank top – whatever you want to do, go for it. We’re all gorgeous, so if you want to show it off, then go for it!

Sweet Bodies

(img source)

Have a great Tuesday!

<— How do you feel about being told to ‘shop for your shape?’

<— Do you think you fit into one of the ‘typical’ categories for body shape?

<— How do you decide what clothes to buy or styles to look for?

71 Comments

  1. I never knew which category I would fit into because I’m not like any of them either. I just find something that looks cute on the rack, try it on, and do a turn around in the mirror and if its jeans I may squat just to make sure they aren’t too tight haha. that’s about all I do!
    Ashley @ Eat Run Live Happy recently posted..Play Dough and PancakesMy Profile

  2. Yes yes yes. It’s hard to buy clothes that fit for anyone but I don’t think that shopping for your body type is the answer. it isn’t like clothes are designed for one “type” and usually we don’t fit into a certain one anyways. I know I have a very small build but also very muscular legs, so I’m shaped like a pear in some regards but not in others. It’s a dumb thing to say because there’s no facts behind it!
    Sarah @pickyrunner recently posted..Awkward Race PhotosMy Profile

  3. Girl, I love this post! I am always confused when they have those articles because I never have any of the body types they are using. I am a full believer in wearing what makes you feel comfortable. If you have been killing it in the gym and want to wear a crop top, you go girl.. or if you think your ass looks like a million bucks in skinny jeans than wear them! Great post.
    Heather Murphy recently posted..These boots are made for inversions, and a HIIT workout for beginners.My Profile

  4. Great post Sam! I love my Women’s Health subscription too but I am so with ya on shopping for body type and why it seriously makes NO sense. I don’t even know what my body type is according to the fruits and other labels. I am going to confess that I think sometimes fashion magazines can offer advice for bodies that make sense. For example, I am five feet tall and I don’t want to make myself look shorter so I take their advice for certain shoes and elongating my torso.
    Amy @ The Little Honey Bee recently posted..Shop Til Ya DropMy Profile

    • I agree with you, Amy!
      From a fashion standpoint, I’ll admit that sometimes these recommendations can be beneficial. Certain clothing inevitably flatter certain parts/figures better than others. It’s the same as sunglasses, for example. I have a difficult time with round frames because the shape of my face doesn’t suit them. Just a fact of life. I think the same goes for certain fashion trends. However, wouldn’t be be so much better if they were to take a more positive spin on things? I’ve actually never thought of the whole “trying to hide something” in regards to dressing for your “type”, but it’s definitely an interesting concept.
      No matter what, we need to feel good about what we are wearing, and not just buy into the trends because someone says it looks great on our “boy shaped” frame.
      Kelly @ Femme Fitale recently posted..Getting Organized: Weekly Workouts & DinnersMy Profile

    • No woman wants to be told she’s a fruit And I definitely think that they can be useful, I just notice that they happen to lead towards negativity with various body types, which I don’t agree with. It does make sense about the height thing though!

  5. YES! So, I’ve always considered myself for of a pear shape because I tend to carry my weight in my thigh area. And you know what…I’ve always felt that a pear shape = bottom heavy. That sounds even worse than pear! And maybe that’s not even my body shape…who the heck knows, but because of those ridiculous articles, I feel like I have to put myself into one of those categories, but I don’t!

    BTW, great post Sam!
    Holly @ EatGreatBEGreat recently posted..How to Make Fresh Pumpkin PureeMy Profile

  6. I hear ya. This shit makes no sense to me either. A banana shaped body? How does that make any sense?! I would describe mine as: boyish on top, Kardashian on the bottom. So, a pear shape, I guess. But when it comes to buying clothes, I just buy whatever I think looks good on me?

  7. I’ve always associated myself with pear shape and it’s made me feel so bad about my body type! So I can’t wear skinny jeans? Apparently not according to the magazines! But maybe that’s not my body shape at all! All those things serve to do is confuse and shame us, and that’s just not cool in magazines that are supposed to be inspiring confidence! If women can’t be nice to each other and we can’t be nice to ourselves, how can we expect men to be? Loved this post girl!
    Gabby @ the veggie nook recently posted..health vegan friday # 67- spooky halloween foodsMy Profile

  8. I stopped reading those magazines a long time ago, and I’m glad I did! I like buy clothes that make me FEEL good. Sometimes that means black leggings, sweatpants, or a baggy top!
    Suzanne @ hello, veggy! recently posted..FallovelyMy Profile

  9. Those kind of features always confused me as well. I have no chest, no butt, and a straight waist, so I always thought I had a boyish shape. But then I gain weight most quickly in my stomach, so that complicates things! I kind of ignore those articles now, too – I just look at the clothes to see if there’s anything I like.

    Personally, I think that the magazines are trying to make it easier for women to find clothes that may flatter them if they have difficulty understanding different cuts, etc. But I just think they go about it the wrong way. Instead of helping, it’s just putting us into different segments, which goes against many women’s magazines touting “all bodies are beautiful.” Hopefully someday they can get it right.
    Ang @ Nutty for Life recently posted..Strength Keeps Me SaneMy Profile

    • I do understand that they’re trying to help women, but I always notice the negative turn they tend to take. Hopefully, they are able to make the correct changes eventually!

  10. Gah magazines need to stop with giving out generic info- whether it’s diet or style, it’s far too simplistic to imply that a certain approach can work for a group of individuals. By magazine standards, I am apple-shaped in that I gain weight on my stomach first. However those magazines also suggest wearing flowy tops to “conceal” the tummy region. If anything, I avoid flowy tops because they make me look 10 sizes larger than I actually am. I take these tips with a pinch of salt- I’ll try them out but it’s not set in stone that they WILL work for me…that’s just something I need to constantly bear in mind!
    Khushboo recently posted..The merits of food combining…My Profile

    • The generic-ness is definitely a problem! And YES about the flowy tops – I ‘should’ be wearing them according to magazines, but when I wear them I look like I’m trying to conceal an early pregnancy; not flattering at all.

  11. Love this, Sam! I definitely know what styles I think look good on my body and what styles I definitely do not like and tend to stick with those. And even though I guess I’m technically an athletic hourglass (<– like that body shape, hahahah!), if another magazine tells me not to wear skinny jeans, I'm going to flip. Except not really because I don't read the things anymore
    Becky @ Olives n Wine recently posted..#9 Treat Yourself Tuesday {TYT}My Profile

  12. Amen to that! Wear what you feel good in. Totally agree. I don’t even know what body type I am.
    These magazines tell so much weird stuff, but I admit I read it sometimes too – out of curiosity and to be ‘up to date’ with the media and what they spread. Scary thing is, that I was obsessed by all this information, trying to find the perfect tip how to get even skinnier.
    Lucie@FitSwissChick recently posted..No Bake Chewy Protein BarsMy Profile

  13. I’m always so confused when I read those articles. I can never figure out what body shape I am.. and with only four choices I often get anxious (for no reason) because I have no idea what category I fall under. I’m short, maybe athletic build, but no bust.. etc etc. The media needs to get away from this method of categorizing women and telling them what to wear and start focusing on the clothes rather than the bodies.
    Christine @ Gotta Eat Green recently posted..Weekly Plan Nov 4 – 10My Profile

  14. Okay, the poor blueberry in that last graphic seriously made me laugh out loud. But ANWAYS… great post, Sam. I’ll admit to not being the most fashion-savy, but all that body type nonsense makes absolutely no sense to me… especially since different brands/stores seem to have different ideas of what those body types are. And don’t even get me started on the insane amount of variation in something as simple as jeans. Ugh.

    I just try random thing on and see if they look good on me. If they make me feel like a million bucks? I’ll buy ‘em. If not? Back they go!
    Amanda @ .running with spoons. recently posted... [healthier] chocolate glazed donuts .My Profile

  15. Love this! I agree, why the negative connotation for almost every body type? And who actually fits into a single one? I think I have a sense of what looks good on me and what my style is so I follow that (even if I end up looking like a troll). I just think it’s hard for a magazine to divulge individual advice to such a wide variety of people! Amen sista!
    Davida @ The Healthy Maven recently posted..Cooking with RosaMy Profile

  16. Awesome post! I SO hear you on being annoyed by the whole body shape classification. Like you I never felt I met all criteria for any of those types so according to those magazines it should be impossible to find anything I look flattering in, right? Well, sorry but yes, I do feel pretty good in some despite them probably not being recommended for whatever shape I have. It’s honestly just ridiculous and another way to make us feel uncomfortable. What if I had wide hips and – according to my body shape – was “supposed” to conceal but actually wanted to embrace and highlight them?
    So yes, I agree with you. When I go shopping I usually choose by favourite colours and how clothes are cut to highlight what -I- like about myself.
    Miss Polkadot recently posted..Going for the goals [November]My Profile

  17. To be honest, I used to read these and never know which body type I fit into to pick a category. So, yes, I think they are the stupidest articles ever. Even if I try to wear something for my “body shape”, I end up hating it and going for something I’m not “supposed” to wear for my shape. If I wear something and don’t feel comfortable in it, I get shy. No one likes a person who keeps to themselves in a corner. I’ve learned to be my BEST self, I have to feel my best. And that’s that!
    Lauren recently posted..boo! said the ghostMy Profile

    • I definitely agree with you about the shyness thing – if i’m not feeling confident in what I’m wearing, I end up a lot more reserved. No fun in that!

  18. What a great post. As someone who has worked with people with eating disorders it’s so important for people to realize that no one fits those exact criteria and never will. It’s impossible! I love both magazines as well as many other fashion magazines but no one will have those exact body types.
    Hollie recently posted..Full NYCM Race Recap (3:17.23)My Profile

  19. I think you raise a really interesting point. I’ve tried shopping for my body type in the recent years because sometimes when I look back at pictures I feel like my outfit didn’t do anything for my shape. I have a boyish/athletic figure and the wrong outfit can really take away from it. That said, I don’t think it’s good to follow any strict guidelines. Like you said, if I like something, I’m going to buy it, regardless if it fits into my “shape” category.

    I think the ultimate goal of those charts is to help women feel more confident in their clothing choices but I think you’re right in that it can be harmful if it is taken to the extreme context.
    Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health recently posted..Pomegranate Kale Salad with Maple Glazed PecansMy Profile

    • How they’re interpreted definitely plays a huge part – some people can see them as tools to look their best, others as a guide for what parts of their body they should be hiding.

  20. i can definitely see pros and cons to the “shop for your shape” features in magazines. in terms of pros…sometimes i like seeing sections of magazines that feature body types other than model-thin, and flattering outfits on normal looking bodies that make the girls in the outfits look fabulous and fashionable. basically there’s nothing on those magazine pages telling these girls to try to change who they are just because they aren’t model-thin. instead the magazine is saying here’s a cute outfit, and it’s okay for girls of your size to wear a cute outfit, and you don’t have to dress like a shlump and hide everything because you’re not a stick.
    that being said i wish that features like that were not the ONLY places you see differing body types in magazines. i’m pretty sure the only pages with photos of models with curves are those features meant to show a bunch of different body types. then you go to the back of the magazine where they have the monthly high-fashion photoshoot and boom, it’s always a skinny model. for once i’d like to see a magazine just picture a different body type than what we typically see, and not make a big deal about it. i’d like to see them feature it and just act like it’s no big deal and is totally normal. a normal body type should not be an abnormal magazine feature.
    Caitlin recently posted..Real Art Ways Oddball Halloween 2013My Profile

    • 100% agree with different body types in magazines – it would be awesome if they could get away from exclusively using the rail-thin models all the damn time!

  21. Love this. I completely agree, in the respect that I don’t fit into a single category, but also that the category I would put myself in changes daily. Some days I look down and see a poochy belly, so I think apple. Other days I notice how flat my chest looks, and I think boyish. Other times I’m startled by how short my legs are, and I think petite. Regardless, I’m not going to listen to what the magazine tells me I should do about those “problem areas.”

    One thing I DO think is positive about these types of articles is that they can (if written correctly), help some women feel BETTER about their bodies. Rather than focusing on the things they don’t like, some women can use this as a reminder of how we all have something to love about our bodies, even if some days we think they aren’t perfect. It has also convinced me to open up a little bit to some alternative styles, so I’m more likely to try something that I would otherwise avoid.

    Granted, it usually ends up the way you’re talking about – degrading women and making them feel pigeonholed rather than liberating women to dress how they want to dress and to own their bodies. I’m all about wearing what you feel good in, regardless of what the magazine tells you.
    Rachel recently posted..Triple Tangents on a TuesdayMy Profile

  22. This is a really great post! I am always reading about how to dress for your body type in magazines and literally sit there and think “but I don’t like that style” or “there goes half my closet”. My body is always changing and I like to embrace it instead of hide it. Thanks for shining light on that.
    Shannon recently posted..My Autumn VillageMy Profile

  23. This was a great, thought provoking post!!

    I totally agree–I think the whole body type thing is so dumb. I feel like I am a pear mixed with an athletic mixed with every other ‘type’. hah! I just buy what I feel best in!

  24. Aww this post made me feel all warm and fuzzy I’ve always hated those things, because I’ve never fit into just one type… which made me hate my body even more because I wasn’t ‘normal’! Thankfully now I realise that it’s okay to like my body as it is, and to wear whatever the hell I want!
    Tara @ Sweat like a Pig recently posted..Winter travelsMy Profile

    • And from what I’ve seen you post, you look damn good wearing whatever you want! It’s ridiculous to think that the entire female population can be put into 4 or 5 different types.

  25. Goodness this is SO true. It’s like please don’t label y body type as a piece of fruit, thanks. But seriously, I say always go with what you feel amazing and comfortable in, and ignore the rest.
    Gina @ Health, Love, and Chocolate recently posted..Link Love: Body, Mind, and Soul FoodMy Profile

  26. Those kinds of articles always make me so frustrated too! I mean, there’s no way to encompass all the types of bodies in just 4 categories. I mean, hello, where is the short, tall, stocky, lanky, etc body types in that list? And you’re right that our bodies rarely fit into one category either. I don’t even know how to categorize mine! Besides, some of the advice for dressing for your body type is crap. They say short people shouldn’t wear long dresses/skirts, and I always listened to that, but one day I said “screw it” and bought a maxi dress, and I happen to think I look fabulous in it. So there! lol

  27. Oh my gee, there is an actual WEEKLY SEGMENT on two of our morning shows primarily directed at ‘dressing for your body type’- its ironic hearing my mum or sister say its so pointless and dependent on what brands are out there- you can be one size in one brand and a completely different one in another.

    I guess thats one area us guys don’t get hounded upon- dressing for our body type. Although I wouldn’t mind being a pineapple. They taste good.
    Arman @ thebigmansworld recently posted..The only thing that was ever ugly about me, was YOU.My Profile

    • I’m glad the women in your life realize how pointless those sorts of stories are! And as a pineapple, I think people would have trouble hugging you – too pointy

  28. I hate those body tye things. I buy things I feel comfortable and confident in – that always looks best.
    Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table recently posted..Work It Out: 15 Minutes Is All It TakesMy Profile

  29. Aww, the poor little fruits!!! But seriously, what is with all the fruit comparisons…banana?! I don’t think I’ve EVER looked at a woman and said to myself, “gee she looks like she’d go well with some peanut butter…maybe a little chocolate!” I’ve never thought I resembled any one of those fruit categories. I will say that I do like the magazines that refer to body shapes as “curvy, big busted, short waisted, etc” because I am short waisted and I have the toughest time knowing what kind of clothes work best with my frame. BUT I do not agree with the ones that are basically telling women that their bodies aren’t good enough to be seen in public UNLESS they are covering up certain parts of their bodies. I’m with you, FUCK IT! Wear what makes you FEEL good and screw everyone else! *fist pump*
    Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli recently posted..Greek Quiche for OneMy Profile

    • I never understood the fruit thing either! And I can see how they can be useful if they’re written carefully..unfortunately most of them don’t seem to be!

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  31. I love how you said that no one really fits into any one of the body types because it’s true–we all have unique bodies that we should embrace and dress in a way that makes US happy, not someone else! Like for instance, I’m pretty petite and flat-chested, but I love the high-low dress trend and I like to wear looser-fitting tops sometimes, even though they do nothing for my upper body. I think everyone should just wear what they like and what makes them feel good, and forget all the arbitrary ‘rules’!
    Ashley recently posted..WIAW: Fall FavoritesMy Profile

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  33. GREAT post…I am becoming increasingly frustrated with feeling like I hate my body no matter what. WHY?? Why do we constantly have to be pressured to look a certain way for somebody else?!? AMEN!!
    Andrea @Pencils and Pancakes recently posted..Majestic Elegance Punta CanaMy Profile

    • I’m glad you liked it Andrea! We just need to work at owning what we have to work with – if we feel confident in our bodies, that’s really all we need!

  34. You’re right. It’s all about confidence. If you think you look good wearing, you probably do. Rock that body. Go on and rock that body. Sorry, I can never seem to shut off the music in my mind.

  35. Pingback: Fashion Wednesdays: Bikinis for your Body Shapes | Last August Day

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