Last Sunday I went to Charli Howard’s event at Waterstones Brighton. MISFIT, one size does not fit all [The Book Depository] [Waterstones] is her present for us. The evening event with her and Gizze Erskine (Gizzi’s Healthy Appetite [The Book Depository] [Waterstones]) was emotional and inspiring. Guided by Juno Dawson (The Gender Games [The Book Depository] [Waterstones]), the evening had funny moments, but also touching ones. Charli, Gizze, and Juno talked about their experiences and left us with a great deal of inspiration. In special, Charli who shared with us way more than I thought she would.
The evening was inspiring, but also tough to swallow. I wished I had read a book like MISFIT when I was a teen. As women, we get insecure pretty fast because society tell us that it’s never enough. But, the fashion industry has a huge say on how we perceive ourselves. One size does not fit all!
I went to the event along with a friend. Waterstones Brighton prepared a cozy evening. The ticket included a glass of wine. How fancy! Chairs were arrange neatly, and people waited for the stars to come in and start a great evening together. I guess none in the audience expected it to get so emotional.
Charli is a beautiful and amazingly strong human being. Seriously, what she went through is hell. Being thin, doesn’t mean that you’ll be happy. Although becoming a model was once perceived as the goal by many, it’s fair to say that with testimonies like hers we must think twice about it. In order to work for an agency as a teen, they asked to go down a size, and they gave her just a month. She basically starved herself during eight weeks. She accomplished the goal, but because she took longer, they rejected her. This is just one of the cruel anecdotes that she had to face while working in the fashion industry.
Although designers and makers are the ones to blame for creating such imposible fashion, it’s also people who put others down. Whoever uses your appearance to make you feel terrible, is a horrible person. There’s no right size nor shape. All shapes and sizes are valid. Humans have a different bone thickness, and different muscle structures. How can we pretend to make everyone fit in imposible molds?
Teens are more prone to get influenced by media. Believing that you have to have a certain size, or be super thin is just insane. To let models starve for the sake of impossible sizes, it’s even worse. Charli was a troubled teen, and she began to try to take control of her life by controling the food. By starving, she would get thinner, and therefore had a better image compared with other kids. However, this ended up in eating disorders. She described her issues pretty much as my cousin did years ago. Starving oneself just because you want to control your life somehow and feel better is just messed up. But it’s much more so when all around you seems to point out at you needing to do so in order to fit in!
Sinking into the abyss can spiral. So seems to have happened to her. Despite being thin and working in the fashion industry, she was plagued by doubts. Voices in her head would tell her that she wasn’t enough, that she was not fitting, that she chouldn’t perform. Whatever she did, negativity would come to make her second guess.
And then, one day, the agency she was working for fired her because she was too big. With a UK size 6-8? (That’s super small!!) Are you kidding me? They had the nerve to body-shame her and get rid of her all at once. After the meeting where they told her she was unfit, she was so nervous that she thought “that’s it.” And wrote the famous facebook post that went viral.
Women are in an impossible place: whatever you do it’s wrong. If you’re too thin or too fat it’s wrong. If you cover yourself too much or not at all, it’s also wrong. In short, anything you do seems to be the wrong choice, so we’re forever trying to fit in. Obviously, we end up with doubts, self-steem issues, and around people that don’t deserve us. When we’re in a position of low selfesteem, we end up around people who put us down. This is what happened to Charli. Not only her friends put her down, but an ex-boyfriend too. She was young, and he was a monster.
One of the things that I loved Charli, Gizze, and Juno said out loud is that you’re the only one that can save yourself. Even if you have support, the ultimate decision to at least try to go out from the dark place is you. And, if you do succeed, then you’re way better than before. The effort was all yours!
When the questions time finally arrived, we were set for an emotional surprise, and not exactly a pleasant one. Charli said that she had an abussive relationship when she was young. She told how bad it was and how she was able to go out from the dark place. One member of the audience asked her about it. She was a young sweet girl who had recently went of an abussive relationship herself, but who was still fighting with her feelings. Charli hugged her and gave her support. And I had to choke back the tears, because it was all beautiful but also very hard to listen.
Charli’s testimony is vital in understanding how deep the problem is. Not only with body-shaming, but also about abussive relationships and violence towards women. We need to know about this, and we need to let teens to have access to information and people like Charli. Her book is certainly going to make a difference.
The evening had a deep impact on me. I do believe that people of all ages and genders can learn a lot from these women. We need to start changing the game, and strong women like Charli are leadin the pace. Let’s hope that the change happens sooner than later.
After the event, we could have a word with Charli, Gizze, and Juno. I got my copy of MISFIT, and I queued a bit to get the signature. Charli is a super sweet person. And she’s very beautiful. I still need to wrap my head around all what she said during the evening. I’m very sure that the book is going to impact me as much as she did in person.
Please be aware that MISFIT, one size does not fit all [The Book Depository] [Waterstones] is about topics that are highly sensitive, including mental illness. But as she states at the beginning of the book, it’s healthy to talk about things and discuss them openly. But, if you’re in a place that might trigger bad memories, just return back to the book when you feel stronger.
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Copyright: Images on this post (C) depepi.com / Top banner made with (C) Charli Howard from @charlihoward (Instagram) and the cover of the book.