If you have been a long-time reader of GTHQ, you would already know we are huge fans of a body positive brand based out of New York called SmartGlamour. Started by designer and model Mallorie Dunn (formerly Carrington) this label has built a solid reputation of being a brand that is wholeheartedly dedicated to diversity and inclusiveness, and every campaign shows that. They don’t cast models from the big agencies, they use social media to search for a variety of body shapes, races and ages. Each item of clothing is made for every body type you can possibly imagine.SmartGlamour is not a name that pays lip service to women, and the attention they are getting is proof that women are looking for brands that authentically speak to and empower them for who they are NOW, not what they could be if they lost 10, 20 or 30 pounds.Their latest campaign is called #ImFlattered, and delves into our society’s obsession with how our bodies become our identity as we move through society.
“In our ever increasingly visible world of social media – people’s opinions of us can come from across the globe, and with no responsibility, cloaked behind a username. It can often also be the people close to us – our loved ones – thinking they are ‘doing us a favor’ by giving unsolicited ‘advice’ on our appearance,” says a description on the website about the campaign.
Mallorie cast a wide net and asked women about their experiences receiving such feedback on their bodies, and the responses came in thick and fast. The campaign has only been released recently, but already the major media attention it is getting shows just how prominent this is. People magazine, Self Magazine, Huffpost Women, Refinery29, Plus Model Magazine, Buzzfeed, Upworthy, and Bustle all agree that #ImFlattered has some important discussion points the majority of us odentify with.
So we decided to discuss this with the woman responsible for creating a mini body revolution online and in the fashion capital to find out why the cause of body positivity is important to her.
I had written once before about the issue with the new context around the word flattering and it resonated with a lot of people. I’ve been wanting to do another campaign – I think they’re one of the most effective ways to help drive home the messages behind the clothes – and thought if I could illustrate how silly clothing “rules” are it might be powerful. Turns out I was right!
Was it hard to get women to admit the harsh/mean comments that others have said about their bodies?
No actually. I posted a quick question to my personal Facebook and in one body positive specific group – “have you ever experienced another person deciding they know better about your body than you yourself does – and vocalized it” – and I got tons of responses! I wish I could say I was surprised by them – but sadly I was not.
Why do you think we live in a culture where we feel it is OK to say demeaning things about another person’s appearance or body?
I think we are set up to fail in a lot of ways – because our society creates these un-reachable standards and then plants them literally everywhere. It’s the media, celerity, TV and movies, diet industry etc etc – our brains are subconsciously taught what is the ideal and what’s not – and especially now in the time of social media and commenting and hiding behind usernames – people are even more brazen because there is no responsibility.
I also agree strongly with Jes Bakers opinion from her article on why everyone gets so mad at Tess Holliday. We are told day in and day out – you have to be X, Y, Z in order to be happy, loved, and successful. When someone sees a person who is not following the “rules” and yet is happy, loved, and successful – they’re mad. It comes from insecurity – which is ingrained in us. Happy people don’t seek to bring down other happy people.
What makes SmartGlamour different from other brands?
Everything! Firstly – I’m one person. I have amazing donated help from two assistants who work on twitter, our weekly SG woman features, and help at shoots + shows – but I’m a one woman army. Secondly – all of our pieces are hand made to order – and that will never change. SmartGlamour will never be made in a factory. Next – we aren’t using body positivity as a way to be trending – it’s why the company started. It’s our lifeblood. We wouldn’t exist without the message. And lastly – we make incredible and lasting changes in women’s lives. That, not necessarily sales, is the end goal. I need sales to stick around and do the work – but the work is the goal.
What do you say to those who are critical of the body positive movement, accusing it of encouraging obesity, for instance?
So many things! They’re wrong – scientifically. There are countless studies proving that loving yourself is the best road to taking care of yourself. It’s hating yourself and your body that keep you spiraling down. Secondly – other people’s health is not only not your business – but has literally no correlation to a person’s worth. Also health looks different on everyone. You do not know any ones health issues – physical, mental, or emotional – by looking at them.
During the summer in 2015, on the same day I was told by a misguided person that I was “allowing women to stay unhealthy”, I received an email from a mother telling me her daughter is fighting an eating disorder, and showing her my website and imagery was helping her heal. They went on to have a great talk about body image, the daughter helped her mother measure herself, and she ordered clothing from me. Those are the customers I want.
Why was it important for you to showcase a diverse range of women in this campaign, as well as all your collections?
Because that is reality. Because there’s nothing wrong with it. Because plus size women, women of color, disabled women, people of varying gender identity deserve representation too. And I’m in a place to provide that. How could I not? It’s not my place as a thin white women to speak on behalf of the marginalized – but it is my place to give them the mic when it’s always automatically in my hand first.
How can we change our perspective on the word “flattering”?
In regard to viewing others – remember that every person is that, a person – with a life, a family, a history, a story – and you don’t know it. Treat others how you’d like to be treated. With yourself – realize you are in control of your body and your presentation – no one else. You do not owe your appearance to anyone – but you do owe yourself happiness. You deserve it. Remember that flattering actually means pleasing and gratifying – so make that your end goal!