I have recently started working with fashion again. I haven't in a long long time. I have been discussing Sony vs. Samsung and to be honest Samsung vs. everyone for too long. I have been teaching people how to use their computer as if I were teaching them how to use a nuclear bomb that could also help them make perfect toast. It has been an odd couple of years. But now I am back in Fashion, as the least important manager you have ever met. I fold clothes, decide the days that me and the one 19 year old girl who owes me nothing work and stare at stuff that I don't know how it works yet. I did that last one in my last job too.
I also, several times a day, get told what Gok Wan thinks.
I have very little interest in what anyone thinks about the way I dress. This is a lie of course but I wouldn't change what I wear because someone said they didn't like what I wore. I have had many opinions about my appearance offered to me over the years; there was a myth at my Junior school that I put my head in the microwave to get my trademark frizz. If I wasn't going to listen to those 11 year old bitches (and 11 year old girls are bitches, I was one) I don't quite understand what a man who advertises yoghurt that makes you poo has to say about the shape of my body. But there are women who I tai to every day who live their lives wearing what Gok Wan wants them to. Would you like to know a secret?
Gok Wan hates you.
This is the only explanation for the way he treats women. He has pushed the liberation of women's fashion back to where we matched handbags and dresses. He gives us a uniform, he tells us that unless we wear what he tells us to we will not look good and even worse that we won't feel good about ourselves. He works on the understanding that a women's self esteem is based on not wearing the correct clothes, that if a girl who has been throwing her guts up for some dumb hopeless pursuit of happiness just hasn't been wearing the right cut of jeans.
In an interview with Women & Home* he states that he 'divides women into eight categories of body shape' and goes on to give them crude names designed to make women feel sexy because of course thats all self esteem is. To a man, gay or otherwise, a women's sense of self is based in how fuckable she is. He has rules for how these 8 women should dress. Having watched How To Look Good Naked (spoiler alert: it's strategically hide behind a velvet curtain in a stately home) he tells hourglass figured girls (me) to wear wrap dresses and skinny jeans. Wrap dresses are fine, I have no qualms with this. It is the notion that a person that claims to know anything about women's bodies thinks that a woman with an hour glass figure can find a pair of skinny jeans that fit her. I bought a pair of size 18 jeans to fit my hips and I have to wear the tightest belt possible to get anywhere near look like I'm wearing a normal pair of jeans. Mine is the least stressful story I know about a girl of my shape buying jeans and I almost cried the first time I wore them. That is the minimum stress Gok Wan, you sadistic fuck, how dare you tell me to wear skinny jeans.
He also, and this is what really gets me, seems to make it ok to objectify women on television. He grabs boobs and bums like he's drowning and somehow nobody notices that he's touching up a woman on primetime telly. It is a disservice to the fragile and overall pleasant women who take part in his shows that we think that just because he's not getting a sexual thrill from touching a woman's breasts that its alright. A woman's body should be respected for the awesome, ridiculous and cruel miracle that it is not felt up by a camp guy on channel 4.
AND WE FUCKING TAKE IT.
I talk to women who tell me what Gok says because they think whatever he says must be true. I met a woman who said that she bought a bra because his face was on the packaging, this isn't healthy or natural behaviour. We shouldn't be putting our self esteem and our opinion of ourselves in the hands of anyone else but ourselves let alone a man who thinks calling your tits 'knockers' and your ass 'fierce' is going to solve your body dysmorphia.
NB. Original publication, here.