Sun, 26 Mar 2000

The right look to hide those figure flaws

By Agni Amorita

JAKARTA (JP): If Cinderella didn't meet the Fairy Godmother, would her Prince Charming have even noticed her existence? Think of the appeal of a girl with a torn, smelly old dress, surrounded by a pumpkin, a lizard and several mice.

Well, after the magic power has left, there is the problem of one's basic appearance. It is a universal concern, even for supermodels who have earned millions of dollars from their gorgeous bodies.

Michael Gross in his shocking book, Model, The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women (William Morrow and Company Inc., New York, 1995) wrote about the insecurities that need to be remade in the search for a near-perfect appearance. It is no longer necessary to have a belly like a washboard, writes Gross, who describes how a supermodel like Cindy Crawford does have a mole near her lip, Naomi Campbell has a scar on her nose, Linda Evangelista is too scrawny while Claudia Schiffer is strapping.

Clothing as one aspect of appearance can be maximized to end the insecurities. People use clothing to hide undesirable physical attributes, or to draw attention to their good points, according to Elizabeth Rouse in her book Understanding Fashion (BSP Professional Books, London, 1989). Women wear clothes which conceal fat waistlines or thunder thighs; they wear padded bras to increase their breasts and corsets to hold in their stomachs. Men wear jackets with padded shoulders to make them look stronger and built-up shoes to make them look taller.

Smart dressing, the "term" used in the past, does not always mean expensive advice from famous fashion designers; it also comes from the trial-and-error process in our daily lives. Living proof is the metamorphosis of some public figures who transformed themselves from being merely pretty into stunningly beautiful beings.

Years ago, Yuni Shara, now 27, was only a promising singer with long hair which looked like wrongly treated banyan tree, hiding her petite 150 cm/43 kg body. Yuni, who was the most popular female singer in last year's Panasonic Awards, is confident today with her bobbed hairdo which refreshed her babyface, and she always wears sleeveless, sexy long dresses as her stage costume for a stunning impression. Yuni cleverly avoids fashion details and accessories around her neck, leaving that area to be as "clean" as possible, including by choosing only bustiers and spaghetti-strapped slipdresses.

The same is true for other "petite" singers, Ruth Sahanaya, 33, and Mayang Sari, 28. Ruth, who has won several international singing awards, almost always wears miniskirts and high heels to give her more height. Mayang Sari has said goodbye to her once waist-long hair in order to look younger and prettier. A local tabloid, Bintang Indonesia, show those transformations as a weekly centerfold under the title Photomorphosis.

On the other side of the world, people showed concerns with the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson. Once she was the main target of the media for her corpulence, and earned the title "the Duchess of Pork" from the tabloids. Unlike her late sister-in- law, Diana, Princess of Wales, who was famous for her fashion sense, Fergie was notorious for her shabby, sometimes outrageous dress and a body which quickly ran to fat.

Fergie had enough, and a fat contract from Weight Watchers helped her shape up. In her closet there are no more horizontal stripes, big floral textile ornaments or oversized pullovers which only drew more attention to her curvy figure. Svelte Fergie is now enamored with carefully chosen two-piece, well-tailored working attire as her daily attire. She has trimmed her red locks in creating the polished, more professional appearance.

Smart dressing is the ultimate answer to replace the Fairy Godmother's hocus-pocus in this millennium, isn't it?