Life in a Different Size

The struggles of not being a Victoria Secret Model, there’s a lot of us.

“Introducing my fabulous, fearless, beautiful mother. A woman of many talents, interests and full of knowledge. Known in the community as confident and dependable, my mom is the go to person for events, activism and in general kindness. She always looks good, dressed up and professional but does not consider herself, “that stylish” (N. Robertson, personal communication, March 18, 2015). As an over 50, plus size woman my mum is definitely a part of society that is not being looked after by the fashion industry. She finds it extremely hard to find things in her size, for this reason shopping is difficult and time consuming. Which is understandable. “I don’t want to look like a fat 58 year old woman,” (N. Robertson, personal communication, March 18, 2015). Having gone on shopping trips together I can comprehend. I try my best to be supportive and encouraging but often the products are of low quality and awkward fit.

When it comes to my mums style she has a particular uniform she likes to follow: a solid colour button up shirt, dark blue jeans and a mixture of bold jewelry. Most often her outfit includes her pearls earrings and a string of pearls around her neck. A classic for any woman, particularly for a women who has difficulty keeping up with trends through clothing and instead stays stylish with jewelry.

I consider pearls a symbol of unquestionable elegance. The strand of pearls will be the accessory that I will be conducting an analysis on according to Valerie Steele’s object analysis procedure (1998). They are a versatile accessory that go with everything, doubled up with the sterling silver clasp or just on its own. It has a good weight and prominent structure therefore makes enough of a statement in a simple outfit. Personally I love pearls, modern and understated, they are a necessity in a professional woman’s wardrobe.

Pearls will always be in style. Introduced by Chanel in the early 1900s, a rope of pearls traditionally represents a strong female presence and minimalist modern style (Discoll, 2010). Chanel’s pearls were often fake, but still had the ability to change the way jewelry was viewed at the time. No longer just decorative ornamentation, thanks to Chanel jewelry became exemplary of femininity while disrupting the inequality in gender and class (Discoll, 2010). In a world where gender inequality is still prominent, this representation lives on. This accessory has the ability to embody “the conflict between the industrious homemaker and the ambitious professional,” (Harris, 1997). Obviously this string of pearls embodies the “ambitious professional,” and successful real estate agent.

As an extremely body conscious person my mum finds safety in her distinct uniform style and everyday pearls. The string of pearls, much like a purse exemplifies a faulty feeling of safety according to Harris’ The Contents of Women’s Purses: An Accessory in Crisis (1997). As it is so difficult to find proper fitting clothes, the string of pearls is one of the only pieces in her wardrobe that makes her feel beautiful without having to settle for something that does not fit properly. Plus size women’s fashion has been overcome by box cut cotton shirts and jeans, because of the belief that the plus-size women are not entitled to the same trendy styles and garments as those who wear smaller sizes (Patterson, 2005).

A pearl necklace looks just the same on a straight size women compared to my plus size mum, and demonstrates the same luxurious style. I believe an accessory like this one manifests the equal value of the plus size woman versus the slimmer counterpart of the western beauty ideal. Currently the fashion industry is defining a larger waist as an impairment and disability as a consumer (Young, 2005). “

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