Before you compliment a woman on her clothing, make sure she isn’t a feminist.
In an article for Metro UK, feminist lifestyle writer Rebecca Reid claims that calling clothing “flattering” is actually “really offensive.”
According to Reid, calling clothing “flattering” means that you are actually complimenting a piece of clothing on its ability to hide flaws:
Flattering clothes are, broadly speaking a myth. If you have fat on your body, that fat will remain on your body whether you wear something ‘flattering’ or not. What flattering really describes is hiding. Keeping your shameful, disappointing fatness under wraps so that no-one is obliged to see how disgusting you are, or be horrified by the reality that you have dared to have thighs.
Throughout her piece, Reid reflects on her own problems coming to terms with her weight. Reid refers to herself as “Gandalf” when standing next to her smaller “Hobbit” friend. She also asserts that, as a teenager, she looked like a “43 year old woman named Sue who’s debating buying a new Volvo” when picking out clothing made for her size.
Despite Reid reflecting on her own lack of acceptance of her weight, she claims that when people innocuously remark that something looks “flattering,” they’re actually pointing out obvious insecurities:
When you tell someone that an item they’re trying on is ‘flattering’ what you’re saying is ‘I realise that there are many crap things about your body, but this dress does actually mask some of those crap things, so other people who are meeting you for the first time might find themselves unaware of the crap things about your body and those who already know you and have registered the crap things might be confused by this garment or even believe that you have lost weight.’
Because of Reid’s own insecurity throughout the piece, she proudly proclaims at the end that women should stop looking for flattering clothing because “f**k flattering.”
Reid’s war on the word “flattering” appears to be a new concept, however. Older tweets by Reid include her wishing for more “flattering” clothing:
What I really need is for someone to start making evening wear that's as flattering as Lulu Lemon yoga pants.— Rebecca Manning Reid (@RebeccaCNReid) January 15, 2017
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