“The purpose of clothing is not to make you look thinner” Fashion brand seeks to reclaim the word ‘flattering’

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Sejal Kapadia Pocha

"Dressing for your body type" is a frustrating, old-fashioned phrase we associate with a bygone era. But chances are we've all been told we shouldn't wear something because it's not "flattering" for our figure.

Now a New York fashion brand is looking to reclaim the word 'flattering' from the negative connotations it's associated with.

Mallorie Dunn, founder of clothing brand Smart Glamour, which sells fashions in sizes XXS to 6X, says "The word flattering, as a stand alone, is not a bad one. The definition is 'pleasing or gratifying'. But that’s not what flatter means contextually nowadays."

"Having 'flattering clothing' basically means 'that makes you look thin.' Or - slightly better but still not good - 'that makes your shape look great'. 

"The purpose of clothing is not - and does not have to be - to make you look thinner."

flattering body image

Dunn asked women of all sizes, ages and ethnicities to share anecdotes of when someone - a stranger or loved one - gave them unsolicited advice on what they shouldn’t wear. 

After being inundated with responses, she invited nine of the women to tell their stories and model the very items of clothing they've been told to not avoid, "not just to prove these “experts” wrong – but to show that their bodies are up to them, and them alone," says Dunn.

flattering body image

The photo series, which is accompanied by the hashtag #imflattered, features a woman who was told her shoulders were "too broad to wear halter tops" while another was told "big girls shouldn't wear prints". 

One women who has been told to hide her larger breasts told Buzzfeed, “This campaign … has given me an opportunity to revisit judgments others have expressed about my body and say, ‘That’s not about me.’”

flattering body image

"When somebody says, 'Oh that's really flattering' what they mean is that article of clothing makes you look thin," says a model for the label.

"And that kind of feeds into this conception that we have that women need to be smaller and take up less space."

Watch the women of the #ImFlattered series model the fashions they were once put off wearing below.


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Sejal Kapadia Pocha

Sejal Kapadia Pocha covers stories about everything from women’s issues to cult foods. She describes herself as a balance between Hermione and Luna Lovegood.

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