Clothing and Body Image

Clothing and Body Image

We live in a culture that is becoming increasingly concerned with looking youthful, beautiful and slim, and we therefore perceive ourselves differently from how we actually look to how we want to look. Clothing is an extension to the body and what we wear expresses our final image and how we want to be perceived. Individuals use clothing and fashion to express their physical image and to make them feel better about themselves. Many people can relate to wearing a bad outfit and feeling uncomfortable all day, as it can lower confidence and  . ‘Fashion trends’ are normally for the style rather than the fit, but it can also help with an individuals confidence as clothing can represent ones self. Different companies use models to illustrate clothing through different media channels, and many of these models are an unrealistic interpretation of your ‘average’ man or woman. Everybody has a different perception of an ‘ideal’ body, and seeing these models in magazines and on TV adverts encourages people to buy the clothing advertised to achieve this ideal image. We’ve all been there when we try on a piece of clothing thats too tight, but just refuse to go a size up as we don’t want to believe we are that size. Justin Alexander Bartels created a photo series called ‘Impression’, which focuses on clothes women think they should wear or what other people want them to wear.

“Impression”, Bartels, 2012

Below are a few images from the series:

“Underwire Cups Give Lauren’s Boobs A Boost”, Bartels, 2012
“Hot Jeans For A Hot Body”, Bartels, 2012
“Head Turning Heels”, Bartels, 2012

The rest of the images can be found at

This series is particularly interesting, it shows something that is extremely common, but has yet to be addressed – especially in the form of images. It speaks to a lot of women and confirms this ‘ideal look’ that most of us want. The photos show the truth behind what women really do to achieve a better body image and enhance how they look.  Not only for sexual appeal, but many women go to these drastic measures for their own self esteem (WYSK, 2015). Women can be influenced to wear uncomfortable clothing through society – seeing what friends are wearing or those of celebrities and models online.

Different people will interpret these photos in different ways. But what possesses women to do what is shown above to their bodies? Possibly to make themselves more attractive to the other sex, some may do it for their self esteem, others may feel like it is a way of ‘fitting in’. An increase in social media, technology and the internet allows us to be exposed to images of perfectly proportioned women and As said earlier, society can play a key role in this. Women may feel obligated to wear heels to an interview, or tight, skinny jeans on a night out. Whereas some people could argue that they wear certain clothes for self image and to promote who they are. Overall, the series has had a mixed reaction. Although many women can relate, others find the images slightly far fetched and feel that it is just everyday life.

“I hoped this series would reach women, and inspire them to question what they wear, and why they wear it”(Bartels,2012).

References Bartels, J. (2012) IMPRESSION. IMPRESSION. Available at: (Accessed: 14 April 2015). WYSK (2015) ‘Powerful Images Show Actual Imprints Left On Skin From What Women Wear.’ Women You Should Know®. Available at: (Accessed: 16 April 2015).


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