Diversity is a word that has always defined me. Why? Because I didn´t have any of it around me, only in myself, the reflection of the mirror. Latina but not Latina enough, too tall, too fat, my eyebrows too thick, my look too “exotic," too much of many things. Being called ugly and a monster from a toddler stage is something that has been extremely hard. Since I didn’t want anyone else to go through this, I´ve set myself the goal to work hard, to make feel others better, to show what we are as the human race: diversity, and that is what I´ve been doing for the past 25 years of my life.
"This is not a favor someone is doing to us; this should be the norm, as the world we live in: diverse. "
Going through my daily readings of fashion magazines, trying to have my work as a magazine editor on point, I cross paths with this interview of designer Tom Ford in WWD.
In the interview, WWD asks Ford about body diversity on the runway, his less than eager response shows his flippancy towards the subject, shrugging it off as an issue of the models needing to fit into sample collection rather than seeing it as an issue he can help with.
The more I read the interview the more I roll my eyes. How can a designer give such a lame excuse to not include plus-sized models? I had higher expectations for such a talented designer as Ford.
“This is an industry thing. Whether we all decide to start making all of our clothes in the next size up, that’s a different thing. But there is practicality, there’s a reason models are a standard size.” If we settle on everything because 'that's what everyone else does', many of us wouldn’t be here, standing up for our rights, the way it should be. At that very moment while I read I swear I could see a big, gigantic dinosaur waving at me. I felt like I was in the cave era. How is it 2018 and we are still having this conversation?
I had to read the entire interview, and in all honesty, so many things were wrong there.
So I´ve tried to figure it out, how could I send a strong message of discomfort with all that Tom Ford said and I did it the best and most respectful way I've found: recreating on my amazing size 24 an outfit from the 2017 Tom Ford collection with things in my closet. What was the idea? 1. Giving certified information on how terribly negative and dangerous the “one size” message is, from body dissatisfaction to eating disorders and beyond. 2. Proving that he was wrong, as I knew he was. I could easily recreate that look without any hesitation or effort. So if someone like me could accomplish something so powerful and diverse, how come he couldn't?
I´m the first Latina plus-size model worldwide and editor in chief of Belleza XL the first and only plus-size Latino oriented magazine in the world, which gives me a huge responsibility for every single thing I say and do. That´s why pretty much I couldn´t just ignore this, it is way too serious, as the pioneer of this industry I had to say or do something. This nonsense needs to stop and I'm doing my part.
The conversation of diversity (on beauty and sizes) in fashion must be discussed at every opportunity. This is not an issue that belongs singularly to the plus size industry anymore. There are many conversations to be had about negative messages attached to people who are not white, or tall and skinny (consider this to be the perfect, average and ideal in the fashion industry).
The fashion industry is growing and evolving, the fact that we have plus-size models, models from all races, models with Down's Syndrome and other characteristics is a clear manifestation of how things are going on.
Fashion should be for all, pretty simple. This is not a favor someone is doing to do us; this should be the norm, as the world we live in: diverse. We are not all the same size, height, race, etc. so why should we accept being treated like soldiers of the same army?
We are not a one size world, and everybody needs to understand this. We need visibility and representation. Diversity matters.
More companies, brands, designers are expanding their concept of beauty and that is something amazing that I can´t thank enough as a costumer and plus size model. The body positive movement, (which has nothing to do with fashion, but has helped tremendously) is a most on every single aspect of our lives. Discrimination is not normal, is not ok and we shouldn’t remain in silence every time it happens.
Having nothing to wear is a big form of discrimination, the message we are getting is: “you don’t exist, your existence is not worth, the market is not interested in your size or shape” and that is absolutely wrong, cruel and despicable.
So I´m sorry Mr. Ford, but no, I can´t take your excuses. Do not underestimate us, please. If you don´t like us, go and say it, or don´t, it's your right, as it is my right to not remain in silence and claim my space.
' This is not an issue that belongs singularly to the plus size industry anymore.'
As I´m writing this I´ve read about four new different clothing lines size inclusive all over the world. On every story, there are two sides: the one that causes the problem and the one that fixes it. And I refuse to cause any problem. Which side are you?
For decades, women have been unknowingly suffering from PSD and intergenerational trauma, but now Dr. Valerie Rein wants women to reclaim their power through mind, body and healing tools.
As women, no matter how many accomplishments we have or how successful we look on the outside, we all occasionally hear that nagging internal voice telling us to do more. We criticize ourselves more than anyone else and then throw ourselves into the never-ending cycle of self-care, all in effort to save ourselves from crashing into this invisible internal wall. According to psychologist, entrepreneur and author, Dr. Valerie Rein, these feelings are not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you— but chances are you definitely suffering from Patriarchy Stress Disorder.
Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD) is defined as the collective inherited trauma of oppression that forms an invisible inner barrier to women's happiness and fulfillment. The term was coined by Rein who discovered a missing link between trauma and the effects that patriarchal power structures have had on certain groups of people all throughout history up until the present day. Her life experience, in addition to research, have led Rein to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which men and women are experiencing symptoms of trauma and stress that have been genetically passed down from previously oppressed generations.
What makes the discovery of this disorder significant is that it provides women with an answer to the stresses and trauma we feel but cannot explain or overcome. After being admitted to the ER with stroke-like symptoms one afternoon, when Rein noticed the left side of her body and face going numb, she was baffled to learn from her doctors that the results of her tests revealed that her stroke-like symptoms were caused by stress. Rein was then left to figure out what exactly she did for her clients in order for them to be able to step into the fullness of themselves that she was unable to do for herself. "What started seeping through the tears was the realization that I checked all the boxes that society told me I needed to feel happy and fulfilled, but I didn't feel happy or fulfilled and I didn't feel unhappy either. I didn't feel much of anything at all, not even stress," she stated.
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Valerie Rein
This raised the question for Rein as to what sort of hidden traumas women are suppressing without having any awareness of its presence. In her evaluation of her healing methodology, Rein realized that she was using mind, body and trauma healing tools with her clients because, while they had never experienced a traumatic event, they were showing the tell-tale symptoms of trauma which are described as a disconnect from parts of ourselves, body and emotions. In addition to her personal evaluation, research at the time had revealed that traumatic experiences are, in fact, passed down genetically throughout generations. This was Rein's lightbulb moment. The answer to a very real problem that she, and all women, have been experiencing is intergenerational trauma as a result of oppression formed under the patriarchy.
Although Rein's discovery would undoubtably change the way women experience and understand stress, it was crucial that she first broaden the definition of trauma not with the intention of catering to PSD, but to better identify the ways in which trauma presents itself in the current generation. When studying psychology from the books and diagnostic manuals written exclusively by white men, trauma was narrowly defined as a life-threatening experience. By that definition, not many people fit the bill despite showing trauma-like symptoms such as disconnections from parts of their body, emotions and self-expression. However, as the field of psychology has expanded, more voices have been joining the conversations and expanding the definition of trauma based on their lived experience. "I have broadened the definition to say that any experience that makes us feel unsafe psychically or emotionally can be traumatic," stated Rein. By redefining trauma, people across the gender spectrum are able to find validation in their experiences and begin their journey to healing these traumas not just for ourselves, but for future generations.
While PSD is not experienced by one particular gender, as women who have been one of the most historically disadvantaged and oppressed groups, we have inherited survival instructions that express themselves differently for different women. For some women, this means their nervous systems freeze when faced with something that has been historically dangerous for women such as stepping into their power, speaking out, being visible or making a lot of money. Then there are women who go into fight or flight mode. Although they are able to stand in the spotlight, they pay a high price for it when their nervous system begins to work in a constant state of hyper vigilance in order to keep them safe. These women often find themselves having trouble with anxiety, intimacy, sleeping or relaxing without a glass of wine or a pill. Because of this, adrenaline fatigue has become an epidemic among high achieving women that is resulting in heightened levels of stress and anxiety.
"For the first time, it makes sense that we are not broken or making this up, and we have gained this understanding by looking through the lens of a shared trauma. All of these things have been either forbidden or impossible for women. A woman's power has always been a punishable offense throughout history," stated Rein.
Although the idea of having a disorder may be scary to some and even potentially contribute to a victim mentality, Rein wants people to be empowered by PSD and to see it as a diagnosis meant to validate your experience by giving it a name, making it real and giving you a means to heal yourself. "There are still experiences in our lives that are triggering PSD and the more layers we heal, the more power we claim, the more resilience we have and more ability we have in staying plugged into our power and happiness. These triggers affect us less and less the more we heal," emphasized Rein. While the task of breaking intergenerational transmission of trauma seems intimidating, the author has flipped the negative approach to the healing journey from a game of survival to the game of how good can it get.
In her new book, Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Barrier to Women's Happiness and Fulfillment, Rein details an easy system for healing that includes the necessary tools she has sourced over 20 years on her healing exploration with the pioneers of mind, body and trauma resolution. Her 5-step system serves to help "Jailbreakers" escape the inner prison of PSD and other hidden trauma through the process of Waking Up in Prison, Meeting the Prison Guards, Turning the Prison Guards into Body Guards, Digging the Tunnel to Freedom and Savoring Freedom. Readers can also find free tools on Rein's website to help aid in their healing journey and exploration.
"I think of the book coming out as the birth of a movement. Healing is not women against men– it's women, men and people across the gender spectrum, coming together in a shared understanding that we all have trauma and we can all heal."