The top 20 girls in Curvy Kate’s first Australian Star in a Bra competition have been revealed, and voting is now open on their Facebook page. As always, the girls are gorgeous, curvy, healthy and (importantly) smiling; and whoever wins will go on to champion a different shape of beauty to the usual skinniness portrayed by mainstream professional models.
But what should be a celebration of diverse, confident and differently gorgeous girls has sparked a furious row about the finalists chosen, some nasty comments about the girls themselves, and accusations that Curvy Kate had misled entrants over the criteria of the competition.
I’m pretty familiar with Curvy Kate, and don’t believe for a second that the latter accusation is remotely true. Curvy Kate celebrate curvy women of all varieties and place value on personality and substance as much as they do appearance (check out Curvy Kate UK winner and runner-up Lizzie Haines and Georgina Horne for examples of CK ambassadors and what happens when boobs, brains and a wicked sense of humour collide). The last thing Curvy Kate (or any curvy lingerie brand I know) would set out to do is make any woman feel inadequate or self-conscious.
That said, it would appear that the editorial message conveyed by their competition partners at Take 5 magazine may have lead to some women believing it to be a ‘plus-size’ competition. This is unfortunate though perhaps not unexpected – curvy is often used synonymously with ‘plus size’ and perhaps Curvy Kate could have taken more care to control that communication. It’s not too hard to understand how a ‘plus size’ woman entering what she thought was a ‘plus-size’ competition might feel defensive losing out to a woman she saw as ‘skinny with big boobs’.
But rejection stings however it’s delivered, and I do feel for the women who don’t make it through to the second stage. For every Lizzie Haines, who battled through her body confidence issues whilst storming her way to Star in a Bra victory, there must be dozens of unknown women who don’t make it left feeling inadequate. This especially is why we need a better phrase than ‘real women’ to describe beauty alternative to the thin/tall/polished ideal of mainstream models. Curvy Kate were asking entrants to ‘show us how real you really are’: does that make the women who don’t make it through ‘not real enough’?
None of this excuses the comments of course – spiteful attacks on girls who may already be feeling vulnerable. The internet is fairly horrible at the best of times – any woman who has ever found herself in the public eye will attest to how vile strangers can be when they’re (uninvitedly) scrutinising every facet of your appearance and passing judgement. In an environment like this – where judgement is being invited – it can be brutal, and much harder to ignore.
It’s a shame that the news has been clouded in this way, but huge congratulations to the top 20 and the best of luck for the final. And to those who didn’t make it, congratulations for doing one of the most fiendishly scary things I could possibly imagine doing without exploding. Go and celebrate yourselves immediately.
And to those making personal jibes – please pause and ask yourself why you need to be so spiteful about someone you know nothing about. Those girls might just be jpegs on your computer screen to you, but how would you feel if she were your best friend, or your sister? Lashing out is not going to change how disappointed you feel, or make you feel better about yourself. If anything, allowing yourself to behave so horribly will only make you feel worse. Shake it off, stand up tall and go and do something you love instead.
That’s enough of my big sistering for today. Now get out of my room before I swat you with Smash Hits…
Vote for your Star in a Bra by visiting the Curvy Kate Australia page on Facebook. Winners announced August 4th. Good luck ladies!