Spring Carnival is in the air! Australia is getting into the fever of excitement for shoes, fashion and HATS. Even though I am not into horse racing whatsoever, I must say this time of the year also grabs me. The feeling of joy and excitement in the air is contagious.
But fashion, as beautiful it can be, has its traps which can be loaded with pain.
A few days ago I came across an article about some new research on the eating disorder bulimia. It found that women in middle age who are going through hormone changes are just as vulnerable to eating disorders as young people. (You can read the article here.)
The pressures around beauty, body and self image are often factors. Of course it impacts the body, the health and the people around us, but more than anything it affects the self.
I myself suffered from bulimia when I was 24 years old, and struggled with it for five years. I understand the illness intimately. Depression, mood swings and self hate were only some of the symptoms which I experienced as a price for creating an image which I would never see in the mirror anyway.
Looking back, it was bulimia which started me on the road to self love. Not only was I concerned about myself, I was concerned about the children I would raise and how they would see themselves and the opposite sex.
Working in the world of fashion, as I have all my life, I am exposed to many ideals which are not at all about accepting of who you are. Fashion demands theatre, illusion, drama, non-reality. We are bombarded by images of long thin legs, collagen-injected lips and airbrushed bodies. Media, men, and worst of all, other women look at us through the lenses of their own illusions, and we allow it by trying to live up to their expectations.
I made a pledge to myself when I opened my first business in 1990, not to lose sight of my aim to live a life of self love and self acceptance, which is a daily practice as I learn things about myself I did not know were there.
So what does this all mean for those of us working in fashion as we go into another Spring Carnival season?
For me, it means remembering the difference between what fashion can do to us, and what it can do FOR us. I do not believe in using fashion to hide and disguise. I wear hats to express what I think is beautiful, what I am feeling, what I want to express about myself. And always I remember that I am not the hat I wear. I shape my hats - they do not shape me.
Spring Carnival is a chance to dress up and be proud of our beauty.
Spring Carnival also means fun, joy and gratitude for all I have in life, including a body which serves me dearly every day from morning to night.
See you at the track!
WaltraudPS. Please watch this amazing spoken-word poem by a girl who seems far too young to be so very insightful about self acceptance.