Play­ing Dress Up

Women's Health (Malaysia) - - LETTER FROM THE EDITOR - sueann chong edi­tor

When I was a lit­tle girl, I was no dif­fer­ent from other lit­tle girls. I would twirl around in my pink tutu and tiara and dance around on my make-be­lieve stage. Then I grew into an awk­ward teenager and soon the girly garbs were re­placed with baggy jeans and t-shirts. When I landed my first job and I could af­ford to shop for clothes, I started pay­ing much more at­ten­tion to my wardrobe and soon de­vel­oped my own style. As a fash­ion edi­tor back then, my work en­vi­ron­ment played a huge role in my love-hate re­la­tion­ship with fash­ion. Through those years, I also no­ticed what un­healthy ob­ses­sions it can fes­ter. From un­nat­u­rally skinny mod­els, to starv­ing your­self so you can af­ford a de­signer hand­bag, from catty talk shows about what some­one should or shouldn’t wear to so­ci­ety’s way of clas­si­fy­ing some­one’s worth by what they have on the out­side rather than who they are on the in­side; I soon got dis­en­chanted by it all. Gone was that lit­tle girl who would cre­ate her fairy­tale-like dresses out of her mum’s scarves and in her place was a jaded, for­merly-ob­sessed fash­ion en­thu­si­ast. Now that my lit­tle girl is three (about the same age I was when I was pranc­ing around in my makeshift gowns), and I see her rum­mag­ing through her boxes of hats and hand­bags with glee, I can’t imag­ine any­thing that makes any­one so gen­uinely happy be tainted down the line. And ul­ti­mately, all these pretty clothes and makeup out there should make us feel good about our­selves, and not the op­po­site. How­ever, in these past few years, we have seen a pos­i­tive shift in the in­dus­try and the word “beau­ti­ful” has been re­de­fined. I strongly be­lieve that the well­ness move­ment has played an in­stru­men­tal part in that change. Com­mer­cials cam­paigns and run­ways are now fea­tur­ing more women of dif­fer­ent shapes, sizes and eth­nic­i­ties. They look stronger, health­ier and they are more re­lat­able. In Women’s Health world­wide, we have dropped phrases like “shrink two sizes” and “bikini body” be­cause they painted an un­re­al­is­tic im­age of what a woman’s body should look like and man­i­fested a de­sire to fit into that ar­chaic idea. And this is why I am so thank­ful for mag­a­zines like us who have al­ways fea­tured women who broke the mould and smashed stereo­types. Strong, independent women who have strug­gled, who have over­come those strug­gles, and their sto­ries serve as a re­minder that we can too. When my daugh­ter grows up, I hope all women’s mag­a­zines (or what­ever form they trans­form into) will not prop­a­gate such su­per­fi­cial ideals. Here’s to all those lit­tle girls who grew up with that sparkle still in­tact or re­dis­cov­ered! Never let any­one dull your shine!

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