Much of the fashion media is slowly accepting and promoting the idea that beauty comes in different shapes and sizes (a broader, if not yet totally inclusive view), and is seen in women of all ages. In its August 2008 issue, for instance, Vogue magazine focuses on beauty at every age, stating that “today, decade-denial just isn’t chic. Owning your look is. A strong self of self: That’s the hard-earned hallmark of a deeply stylish woman in 2008.”
With the American population overall getting older and broader, such a positive and inclusive view of beauty inspires millions of women to feel good about themselves. It’s also a message that mirrors back what the public is telling the fashion world. Enough with the idea that there is one standard for beauty. It’s time to embrace beauty in all its diversity.
How sad, then, that a contributing editor for Allure magazine, in interviewing Victoria Beckham for that magazine’s August 2008 issue, would ask her how much she weighs (a question she had the good sense to deflect although she did admit that she wears “the smallest size that you can get”), and then have this interchange:
Allure: “How do you feel about fat people? Is there an ick factor?”
VB: “That’s an awful question. People have to be healthy. Some people can’t help being thin; some people can’t help being fat. People can’t help the way they look. I don’t like it when people are mean about me, so I’m not going to be mean about anybody else.”
Contrast the Allure editor’s approach with that of Carson Kressley on his superb show “How to Look Good Naked” on Lifetime Television. In the show, Kressley is devoted to making women of all sizes, particularly full-figured women, really look at themselves and see and appreciate their beauty as they are. There’s no talk of plastic surgery; no urging of diets, just unadulterated appreciation for the amazing and beautiful human body in all its variations, a message Kressley delivers with sincerity and kindness.
Appreciating and marketing to American women with a broad view of what constitutes beauty and who is in your target market is a smart move by retailers, including fine jewelers. Carrying product appropriate to a diversity of sizes and ages is common sense. Seeing the beauty in these customers and understanding the role of jewelry in adorning them to make them feel beautiful is what can set you apart.