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Don’t Speak

March 30, 2011

1388. That’s how many readers (myself included) to date felt compelled or provoked enough to comment on this post by The Sartorialist Scott Schuman.


“I saw this young lady in Milan several times this past season. She is one of the crop of new bloggers. (Read her blog here.) I loved that she’s a bigger, curvier girl than most of the other bloggers who you see in the press and tend to represent the genre.

The subtle thing she achieves so successfully in these two looks is to complement the sturdy but beautiful shape of her legs with an equally strong shoe. A daintier shoe would be overpowered but these shoes create a beautiful harmony for the lower half of her body.

Tomorrow I’ll post an image of a different young lady I met in Paris with a similarly curvy body type but a different method of creating body harmony.”

It’s pretty unbelievable just how strong of a reaction the blogosphere is having to this post. As Fashionista points out, it’s not necessarily just his choice of wording that is so off-putting (though it certainly is part of the reason so many people are offended), but that he felt the need to write anything about this girl’s body at all.

I do believe that he had good intentions in doing this post. I think he was simply trying to point out how this girl (Angelika Ardasheva for anyone interested) knows her body well and knows how to dress it. I’ve always admired him for representing fashion and style in such a diverse way, and I think he should continue doing posts that represent diversity like this.

What gets me about this post is the fact that he had to comment on her “different” body type at all and then went on to choose words to describe her that just about any girl would hate to hear in reference to herself.

I won’t bore you with the details, but like almost every other girl out there, at some point or another in my life I’ve heard a comment made about my body that really stung. None of these comments were ever made maliciously, but still, when you’re fourteen and someone comments on your American Gladiator legs, it sticks with you. I’m very lucky to have come out of adolescence without suffering from any serious eating disorders and to now be relatively happy and content in my body. A lot of girls did not.

That’s why it particularly bothers me that in response to the backlash and its resulting flood of comments, Scott complains about the fact that “the post is hijacked over the political correctness of the words.” All of the offhanded comments I heard when I was younger simply spilled out of the speakers’ mouths. Scott has the very rare and special platform of his blog with which to communicate his thoughts and feelings. Thousands upon thousands of people read his site every day. Given his huge following, one would expect that he’d be very careful in editing his posts, and with the amount of influence he has, I think this is certainly something he should do if he genuinely cares about generating positive change. Every single word he writes counts and carries colossal impact.

For example, was it really necessary to include the word “sturdy” in describing her legs? Simply commenting on the beautiful shape of them would have been fine. And could “curvier” have sufficed (and yet it probably still would’ve received backlash) instead of adding in “bigger” as well? It’s the fact that he included these words that are generally regarded as offensive by many people that confuses me.

Several days later, he did put up the picture of the Parisienne girl that he mentioned in his intial post about Angelika. Without any caption beneath it, I feel that the picture does a much better job than his previous post of representing a step in a positive direction regarding body image in fashion. This girl’s beauty, style and amazing body do the talking without Scott’s help. Personally, I think that in the future this is how he should represent diversity: on its own, without the potential to lose its meaning and impact in poorly selected wordplay.


So what do you think? Is he rightfully being called out on poor/offensive wording or do you think it’s way too much backlash? Let me hear your opinions.

Images courtesy of The Sartorialist

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33 Comments

  • Reply Paul Melo March 30, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    Good post Alexandra. I think two things about Scott's post… 1st he's lost track of how influential his thoughts can be. He consistently gets hundreds of comments per post and although I don't think anyone should censor their thoughts, I do think people in the spotlight should be very careful of what they write.

    I don't think he realized he was sounding like a jerk. Fashion people often get caught up in their own world.

    Secondly, it's a very fine line of hypocrisy for people to applaud the fact that street style photographers feature people of all shapes, sizes and styles, then turn around and criticize them for noting the fact.

    In this case with Scott's photos.. I don't think either girl is at all 'bigger' or 'sturdy'. They are both quite beautiful.

    I think he made a mistake in sharing his personal view of proportion. Given he spends so much time shooting models, fashionites and fashion show attendees, maybe his perspective of real people is a bit off.

    Good piece.

    Best,

    Paul

  • Reply Gusssygirl March 30, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    Hi!

    I'm really glad you're talking about the comment made on the Sartorialist about Angelika being "curvy" – what really upsets me and also scares me is that his perspective is obviously incredibly skewed – I'm guessing this is probably caused by all the extremely thin model like women on the streets of NYC, Paris, and runways that he's taking pictures of – and therefore the first healthy girl he sees is labeled as "curvy" when to most of the people I know would probably be labeled as thin. I think the worst part is how he responded to the backlash by saying "help me describe this young lady without using the word "normal," but in a way that addresses her body size and still references my point about the size of her legs relative to her shoes" – how about "beautiful" or "why is that important?"

    Thanks for starting a discussion on this issue – it's an important one!

    I've recently started a blog and have really been enjoying making connections with other bloggers! You might like the post I made today where I shared some pictures of the Selfridges windows that I saw in the UK this summer – here's the link:

    http://www.gusssygirl.blogspot.com

  • Reply Cee March 30, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    I just wrote you the longest comment ever and google deleted it 🙁 Suffice it say that although I didn't read The Sartorialist to begin with- I find his view of fashion far too narrow- this is enough to deter me completely.
    xox,
    Cee

  • Reply Cara March 30, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    Thank you for bringing attention to this…it is easy for us all to get wrapped up in the fashion world and start to really get down on ourselves for not looking like another blogger or model or starlet, and this type of post by The Satorialist does NOT help! I think this is a case of him not truly thinking about the influence his posts and what he says about them has on his readers…but to have this much reaction to the post is a great thing, and hopefully he (and the rest of us bloggers!) have learned from this situation.
    xo Cara
    http://www.afashionloveaffair.com/

  • Reply Natalija Rushidi March 30, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    Well written Alexandra. I think people are overreacting about this guys comments. He is just being honest here,i think. And probably didn't think much about what his writing.
    And why is everyone getting upset when someone comments about big people being big, and it's considered cool to comment about skinny people being skinny? I don't get it. I was skinny most of my life and hated when people went on and on about the way i look. being big or being small, who cares?! I'm sure this girl Angelina doesn't care much if people call her big.

    xxx

  • Reply ♥ StylisHedForeVer March 30, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    These shots are amazing!

  • Reply Catherine March 31, 2011 at 12:14 am

    Yeah.. its kinda bad : At least, she didn't felt hurt. But thats a great post. xxx

  • Reply Ellie March 31, 2011 at 3:04 am

    I personally am a huge fan of Scott Schuman's work, and don't think he meant any offense when writing this post. However, he could have chose better words, or not commented on her shape at all. These girls are gorgeous, and curvy I don't see at all! Curves are fantastic, but using the words he did to describe them probably wasn't best. Otherwise they are fantastic photos…

    Love your blog, now following 🙂
    -Ellie

  • Reply Chloe March 31, 2011 at 4:23 am

    This is a fabulous post. You're right – even the most simple of comments about one's body can have life-long effects; horrid, painful, effects. I don't think Scott of The Sartorialist was trying to hurt anyone, but what he said is pretty ridiculous.

    SHE'S GORGEOUS.

    chloe ** http://flowerponychloe.blogspot.com

  • Reply Dilan Dilir March 31, 2011 at 8:40 am

    amazing pics 😀

  • Reply ChiccaStyle March 31, 2011 at 9:48 am

    Smart and intelligent post Alexandra.Great job! I don't think Scott was trying to hurt anyone,BUT I tam sure he made a mistake in sharing his point of view about proportion.
    http://chiccastyle.blogspot.com/

  • Reply Kashaya March 31, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Interesting post! I hadn't read that blog post of his but I think it's horrible to write like that when you're that influential. I guess (and certainly hope) that he means well but I don't think that it is ok to write like that.. first of all she is normal! And.. to write like that about a girl can really effect her. You shouldn't care about what other people say but that's not that easy.

  • Reply Mirela March 31, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Thanx for the lovely comment!, but i got so mad at them 🙁 but anyway im back to normal again 🙂

    Interesting post! Like it a lot! your a smart and beautiful girl 🙂
    HUGS!

  • Reply Ashley March 31, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    I think it's more disturbing because she is most obviously NOT bigger and curvier than most girls. I think a lot of people who read that blog would see that comment and think, "OMG, I'm even bigger than her, so what does that make me? Huge?!?" I did struggle with my weight and slight eating disorders when I was younger, and things like this definitely don't help it. Now, I'm much more confident with myself so this doesn't offend me, but the author of that blog has to remember that not everyone has a terribly awesome and resilient self esteem.

    Like Cee said, I don't read the Sartorialist anyway, but this completely puts me off of it. Doing a quick scan of the post recent posts, though, I notice most of the blog entries are only a picture with no text. Why couldn't he left Angelika's the same?

  • Reply Petra March 31, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    The Sartorialist has great success because he's authentic. Authentic means sharing your own opinion, disregarding whether it will be liked or appreciated by others. It takes courage to be authentic. If the Sartorialist would try to please or be too careful about what to post, he would not be successful.
    Do I think he wanted to hurt anybody? Hell, no! On the contrary, he wanted to point out that in order to be successful in fashion you don't have to be needle thin, but need to look the part. Any body shape can be successful in fashion, as long as you can pull it off.

    • Reply Anonymous April 3, 2012 at 11:50 pm

      I agree and disagree. While I do think that it *is* his blog and he is totally entitled to say what he will, but I do also think that as someone who "has" succeeded, it's quite sad that he doesn't even consider the ramifications of his words. Sure, he can say whatever the hell he wants, but he still sets an example for others whether he likes or not.

      I guess I just interpreted his statements differently than you did. You thought he was saying, "Any body shape can be successful in fashion, as long as you can pull it off." I felt he was saying, "Look what I found, guys! *EVEN* fat girls can be fashionable!!" You know what I mean? It's like he was saying, "Guys, she overcame her fatness and dressed up fashionably."
      I suppose Scott Schuman will be the only one to know what he really meant.

  • Reply Dragana Honey Daša March 31, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    Nice blog, I follow you!:)

    follow me
    http://fashiondreamsandthings.blogspot.com/

  • Reply cryskay April 1, 2011 at 2:55 am

    i agree. i think his intentions were good but his choice of words, using "bigger" and "sturdy" were poor. he needs thesaurus. xx

  • Reply Fashion Cappuccino April 1, 2011 at 4:16 am

    Hi Alexandra! I also commented on his post as well because I was so stunned by some of the comments on his blog! Some women were saying the girl looks normal and they would rather see someone like her instead of a girl with chicken legs. I was so put off by the fact that some women like to put other women down and they're such hypocrites. I think America in particular is very, very sensitive about body issues and women are constantly being told what to do with their bodies and I just feel like you have to look a certain way to fit in.

    I have to say I don't have a problem with Scott calling the girl bigger, curvy or sturdy. He has every right to say what he wants to say regardless of his influence. I don't think those words are offensive either. If he is calling the girl 'fat', then yes, I can see the anger but right now, I just feel really annoyed at how much people are overreacting to his honest opinion. I also hate it when people use fashion or models to purge their own insecurities about their own bodies. To me, it's just putting blame on someone else instead of taking responsibility. I don't think it's fair to blame Scott for whatever issues you have about your self-esteem or your body. I feel like people should just relax and enjoy the beautiful photography without taking it very personally. That's my two cents. xoxoxooo

    • Reply Anonymous April 3, 2012 at 11:53 pm

      Personally, I think it's easier to call a person "big, curvy, sturdy" when you are skinny and judging from your profile pics, looks like you are skinny. Don't worry — I'm not flaming skinny girls..I'm skinny too. But I also work in an eating disorder clinic…and it wasn't until I started working her that I realized, those words, they really do sound a whole lot different to other people. Sadly, I was just too absorbed in my own opinion to realize it.

  • Reply Anjela April 1, 2011 at 5:08 am

    Hi! I just discovered your lovely blog! I'm so glad I did; I'm now following 😉

    As far as the Sart. post and his poor choice of words, I do think he had the best intentions at heart. We live in a society where having 'sturdy' legs isn't taken as a compliment and looking nearly anorexic is becoming a norm of some sorts. I feel he could have expressed his opinion by using words like 'healthy looking' (since that's how she looks) or simply commented on her charm and cool style, leaving the weight issue aside, because in the end of the day, his site is all about personal style.
    In any case, I think he understood the many people like yourself who commented as his next post was kept without words; just a great photo.

  • Reply LoveE ♥ April 1, 2011 at 8:13 am

    Oh how I love the Satorialist, I've been following her from the first day I made my blog. She's so inspirational!

    My lovely, I must say, I LOVE your blog! SOOO following! Follow me? 🙂
    http://itsthedollhousebaby.blogspot.com/
    x

  • Reply Elekon April 1, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    Interesting post, I`ve never read that blog (must have a look at it after this post for sure) my thoughts about it- may be it`s just a promotion for Angelika Ardasheva or for the blog to attract more comments and discussions… who knows..

    http://www.elekonchicboutique.com

  • Reply Paul Melo April 1, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    Elekon…. The Sartorialist gets 2million+ views a month, so no, I don't think he made those comments 'for promotion ..or to attract more comments'.

    LoveE… The Sartorialist is a 'HE'.

  • Reply polliani April 2, 2011 at 11:37 am

    love this post thanks for sharing:)

  • Reply sunny April 2, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    It's not his wording that's offensive (so he's wrong in thinking the backlash is against his "political incorrect" choice of words), it's the underlying message that there is something out of the ordinary about that woman's body shape. Whether he means to or not, by presenting that post and picture the way he did, he's perpetuating unhealthy ideals of how a woman's body *should* look.

    • Reply Anonymous April 3, 2012 at 11:54 pm

      Wonderfully put! My sentiments exactly.

  • Reply Lynn {hearted girl} April 4, 2011 at 2:39 am

    i didn't read the full article but from what you've shared i kinda think it sounds alright. i would put myself in that very description, so to read it about someone as lovely as she is made me feel good actually. not offended at all, even though that's a minority opinion. i've had many offensive descriptions thrown my way but this wouldn't be one of them.

    i just feel that most anything can be picked apart and faulted but really it comes down to the intention behind the words. i honestly don't get the feeling that this was written with anything other than the intentions you spoke so eloquently about.

    AND i need to employ her strategy…never thought about that before. to help balance out my legs with more weight in my step. nice one! thanks Alex, you are such a go-to resource for rad info like this. very engrossing topic. ♥

  • Reply JennaStevie April 4, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    Great post!! I don't think he was really thinking too much into it when he wrote it. And honestly I think curvy is an amazing compliment to any woman! As a girl that has a very small bust and hip area, I would kill to be described as curvy. Although I do have some "sturdy" soccer legs, that is an odd description.
    I can see how people would get upset, but I don't think he meant it negatively. The photograph is very beautiful, and that girl has a gorgeous figure, so I just focus on that.
    xJennaD

  • Reply Rebecca Jane April 5, 2011 at 1:05 am

    Being currently "bigger" than I'd like to be myself, when I saw this post by the Sartorialist it was an illustration of exactly the reason that I have yet to post outfit photos for fear that people will say the same kind of thing.

  • Reply Inez April 5, 2011 at 11:22 am

    I really don't know what the stress is about. like Scott said 'curvy' is a body shape not a weight. I do wish I was curvier, it's just every time i try to put on some weight i get belly fat. what I dislike is the use of sturdy to describe her legs, I think the word would be better suited for a tree.

    we all have our different shapes and sizes which are normal in the generic sense but if someone were to describe me that person would have to be specific to me. I don't think his mistake was in describing her but in his choice of word (sturdy).

    Besides I wish bloggers would stop giving nice brain-programmed comments to each other and start saying what u first felt when u saw an outfit….if u felt the top would b better worn another way why not appreciate the outfit first and then say your mind….what is personal blogging about anyway? Unless I'm wrong (and please do correct me) it's an avenue to improve on ones style.

    New Blogger.

  • Reply Huda April 7, 2011 at 2:25 am

    I think in his view, being surrounded by the fashion industry where looking like a person on hunger strike is the epitome of female beauty, this young woman seems to be large and curvy. I find it hilarious how he described her, because I must be curvy as hell and big then bc her body is pretty much what I have. Having said that, I also agree he did not intended to be offensive or malicious, its just tragic that this is what he considers big.

  • Reply Triveni Jyothula September 2, 2015 at 7:12 am

    i like this article … but i seen many articles like this on http://www.iamaddictedtoyou.com/

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