Sartorialist Scott Schuman posted two photos of fellow fashion blogger Angelica Ardasheva on his site yesterday. Schuman usually says a few words about why he posts what he posts, and in the case of Ardasheva, he writes that he "loved that she's a bigger, curvier girl than most of the other bloggers who you see in the press and tend to represent the genre."
But what really struck him was more specific:
The subtle thing she achieves so successfully in these two looks is to complement the sturdy but beautiful shape of her legs with an equally strong shoe. A daintier shoe would be overpowered but these shoes create a beautiful harmony for the lower half of her body.
This upset a number of commenters. "I would weep if I heard your assessment of 90% of normal women's bodies (or mine for that matter)," wrote one. "Why even mention her figure — surely it doesn't make a jot of difference to her ability to put together an eyecatching look?" said another. After enough accumulated for Schuman to realize he had a problem — because who dares to dislike in the lovey-dovey fan world of street style blogs? — he posted an update explaining his word choice. "I love a post like this. It creates a real and important conversation," he wrote.
Remember, curvy is a body shape, not a weight. To be honest, you can't really see in these photographs most of the curves — chest, stomach, hip — this woman has.
I get emails all the time from self-professed curvy girls who want to see representations of their size on the site. What sucks is that when I try to put a photograph up to talk about these issues, the post is hijacked over the political correctness of the words.
So help me understand; what is the modern way to speak about size? I'm not married to the word curvy. I'm just trying to describe her in the best way I know how. Let's not hide from this issue; I don't want to be afraid to talk about it on my blog. Help me describe this young lady without using the word "normal," but in a way that addresses her body size and still references my point about the size of her legs relative to her shoes.
Last week I did a post of older women every day, and I was proud of that. I am proud to be a blog that is showing women of different sizes. I want to not be losing the potential power of the post by being caught up in wordplay.
So he wanted to discuss "the size of her legs relative to her shoes." What? Do we ever discuss the size (meaning thickness, presumably) of a runway model's legs in relation to her shoes? Is this leg volume versus shoe volume a thing about which points need to be made? "If you're a thick-o try a chunky heel! Sartorialist gives this look a thumbs up!" Good for Schuman for photographing somewhat diverse-looking people for his blog — he should. Part of the problem with discussions surrounding body type in the fashion industry is that a variety of shapes are never considered in the same pool. There are plus-size or curvy models, and there are straight-size or skinny models. Same goes with age and races other than white. Magazines print age issues, size issues, all-black editorials, all-Asian editorials, all-curvy editorials — and so a leg that doesn't also look like an arm becomes a thing.
While Schuman might be perpetuating that, he didn't start it. Have you read your Vogue shape issue yet? Daria Werbowy tells the magazine she had to get her kneecaps in shape with special exercises, and Joan Smalls talks about how she had to reshape her butt. What's on the Sartorialist is actually probably a lot more "real" than the majority of mainstream fashion images. And that he doesn't know how to talk about it isn't entirely his fault.
For the record, Ardasheva didn't mind that the Sartorialist called her curvy. She was just happy to be on the site.
On the Street....Angelika, Milan [Sartorialist]