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February 16, 2011 / catherinebwrites


Gok Wan is a walking saint.   Put him up there with Nelson Mandela.    I can hear the superior sneers coming from people who have either never watched him or do not understand what he’s doing.   They think that he’s just about fashion and sparkly handbags.Soooooooooo wrong.

He’s all about loving the skin that you’re in and if you think that’s irrelevant then you know nothing about how most women see themselves.   And even less about how the media and the fashion industry terrorize women.  Nor how women terrorize each other.

Take me for example.   I’m big.   I’m not gigantic,   I’m not overweight.    I eat healthily, I exercise regularly but I still need to buy extra-large clothes.   I find it difficult  find gloves, shoes, hats, bracelets or rings in my size.   When I need an outfit for that special occasion I have to start looking several months in advance to ensure that I get something that isn’t black or navy or grey and  shaped like something the circus puts up in a field outside the town.   But the problem of finding flattering clothes in my size is as nothing compared with the attitudes that big women have to deal with.

If, in the course of a conversation, I mention the fact that I’m big, other women rush to assure me that I’m not fat, that I’m attractive really and they implore me to stop putting myself down!    Hang on a moment.   I didn’t say I was ugly.   I didn’t say I was overweight.   I’m not putting myself down.  I’m merely stating a fact.  I am big.   But clearly for most women the word “big” is just too hideous an idea to contemplate.

And then there’s the shopping itself.   Many assistants are delightful but there is a lethal breed that waits till you’re in your underwear, trapped in a dressing room with three mirrors and a harsh light.
“Why don’t you go on a diet?” they coo.
“Have you  thought of “proper” foundation garments?”
“Would you not think of taking up jogging?”
“Someone your size can not wear a dress!”
“You should try black, it’s kinder to the fuller figure”
I’ve been listening to those kind of comments since I was fourteen.   It grinds you down.   Besides, standing in your underwear  is not conducive to being assertive.
“I’m not exactly an elephant,” I once snapped to one of these harridens.
She smiled pityingly.
“Not quite.” she replied.
But my favourite of all was the assistant who looked me up and down when I asked for my size and replied without batting an eyelid,
“People of your size can’t afford our clothes!”
Nowadays I smile sweetly and tell them that I’ve just lost four stone.   That shuts them up.

Which brings me back to Gok Wan.   He dismisses the diets and dictates of fashion and shows people how best to dress for the body they have.     He points out their good features, shows them how to flatter their shape, how to choose colours that enhance, necklines that suit , hemlines and trousers that make the most of their legs.   He dismisses the size on the label and attends to the fit.   And when he’s finished the people are transformed.   Their confidence rises and they feel good about themselves.    Surely that alone is enough to canonize Gok because, when people feel good they are nicer to others, they work more effectively and they make the world a better place.

One Comment

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  1. Gold in the Shadows / May 27 2011 11:51 am

    Let the canonisation begin! Enough of piling on the guilt and disapproval! Zelda


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