New York Fashion Week (NYFW) is wrapping up, and now it's crucial to take a step back and consider the fashion industry with a critical eye. Many of us, myself included, anticipate the new seasonal trends — even if we wouldn’t wear them on a daily basis. Fashion is art and the designers are artists. It’s fascinating to watch how their creations influence the average American.

Something I have noticed recently, especially in the wake of events like NYFW, is the sudden influx of sponsored articles on my social media urging me to “find out my true body type” or “learn how to flatter your body type” or even “look slimmer with these three tips!”

Everyone has seen these adverts at some point. They seem to be everywhere, although they exponentially increase during fashion weeks, whether it be in New York or Tokyo. We see them so much that they become a part of our daily social media intake. We think they're mostly harmless, but these types of articles can impact both men and women negatively, and for a long time, I wasn't aware of just how dangerous they can be.

We celebrate fashion for its innovation and artistry, and we celebrate the models who wear the designs so well. Yet, by doing so, we also raise up the model body type, consciously or not.

That needs to change.

Today I saw an article about NYFW, perused it for a while and kept scrolling through my social media. The very next article was about what foods to eat to get a "model" body.

Outrage does not even begin to describe my reaction. I want to enjoy fashion for what it is: art, self expression and an outlet for creativity to blossom. To be continually bombarded with internet articles telling me what I have to do to look like a model distracts me from enjoying the artistry of fashion.

This piece could have focused solely on the mental damage that these articles cause, but I would be merely repeating what others have already said. Rather, I believe one way we can combat this issue is to reinvent our perception about what fashion is:

Fashion is a type of self-expression.

Fashion is an art form.

Fashion is an exhibition of pure creativity of thought.

But:

Fashion is not a means to uphold one certain body type.

Fashion is not a means to judge someone.

Fashion is not the standard you should hold yourself to.

We need to learn to appreciate fashion for its inherent value to the art world and our closets. When we go to art museums we regard paintings and sculptures as beautiful, but not realistic. High fashion and couture need to be viewed the same way.

Learning to recognize fashion shows as displays of art has gone a long way to help me with setting realistic standards for myself. I don't always succeed, but I’m a work in progress, and that’s okay.

Fashion is intricate and exhilarating, but don't be consumed by its standards.

Contact opinion writer Eliza Sturgeon at eliza.sturgeon@richmond.edu.

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