An open letter to fashion magazines

Dear Fashion magazines,

It’s the beginning of the spring season, which means the heavy winter coats and bulky sweaters are going into storage. We’re pulling out our short skirts and lacy tops now. Spring is the peekaboo season where clothes tease by exposing the barest hints of skin here and there.

It’s not summer yet, but you’re nudging us into those sexier fashions, which would be all fine and dandy, apart from the fact that your models are so thin that I can count their ribs. How do you expect me to feel comfortable in my own skin, when the image you expect me to live up to is entirely unrealistic?

Standing at 5 feet and three-quarters of an inch, I’m not exactly one of those leggy anorexic models you’re portraying, and I will never be one. It took me years to build up my self-image and self-confidence. One of the reasons I suffered from low self-esteem was because you taught me that unless I looked like one of your photo shoots, I was a failure as a woman.

I understand that you want the clothing marketed to a certain audience (one that can afford the $2,000 blouse you’re advertising), but you don’t realize, or simply don’t care, about all the girls who look up to you to set the example. You are two-faced to the public. You declare how important healthy lifestyles are, but you don’t promote them by using realistic models that hold standards people can live up to.

Here’s the thing: I have curves. I look in the mirror and I don’t see collarbones that jut out or perfect Benedict Cumberbatch-like cheekbones that could cut you with their sharpness. I see a stretch mark here and there, a bit of baby fat that I could never quite work off, and I’m OK with it because no one is perfect.

Last time I looked in my bank account, I didn’t have the budget to blow $675 on a pair of adorable Christian Louboutin pumps, cute as they are. I get my fancy shoes off the clearance rack of DSW Warehouse or Macy’s for $30, maximum, from my tip money. Yes, I know college students are not your primary audience, but I’m pretty sure that 90 percent of consumers cannot afford these products either.

Promoting these figures and products creates impossible standards that distort reality. Girls who read these magazines, and the men who see the images of women on the covers develop unhealthy standards.

Instead, I believe magazines should take a page out of Dove’s book and use models of every shape and size. Beauty is not necessarily found in size zero.  I have a bottom-heavy hourglass figure, so I tend to lean towards 1950s fashions with full skirts and peplums that emphasize my small waist. If you have a taller, lither figure, try looking for 1920s fashions. Curvy all over? Try a corset top to give your shape definition.

You also don’t have to spend extravagant amounts of money to attain beauty. Going thrift-shopping with your friends is a great way to find fashions that are unique and flattering.

Beauty and fashion should not revolve around the strict dictations of designers who plant their images in the public eye for you to follow. While true beauty is found on the inside, outer fashion may be achieved by using what resources you have — no price tag required!