Never mind ‘real jobs’. How about ‘real fashion’?

2014-02-16 06:00

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Nothing makes women feel quite as ugly as fashion.

Fashion is a cruel, unforgiving game set on a playing field that is ridiculously skewed toward those with narrow waists and broad budgets. It is governed by ideals about as realistic as unicorns and a Bafana Bafana victory.

Mostly, fashion is nothing but beautiful escapist fantasy – JRR Tolkien, but cut from cloth with beads and tassels.

Many of us partake in the fashion game with trepidation, relying on “personal style” and a measure of studied detachment to see us through.

On Thursday night at the state of the nation address, fashion came under the spotlight again as politicians walked the red carpet outside Parliament.

Commenting on their garb is a time-honoured annual media tradition, employed with gentle vitriol. For we all know that our country’s political top brass have bigger fish to fry than frocks and fros (supposedly).

MP Thandile Sunduza and her canary-yellow dress stole the limelight at the country’s premier political fashion event. The 37-year-old arts and culture portfolio committee chairperson twirled on the red carpet before flashing the cameras and joking with journalists.

She said she was seven months pregnant. She laughed and looked happy.

Sunduza on the red carpet.

Soon after, an online storm erupted around her attire. She was likened to a caterpillar, an Oros man and a banana gone awry. On Friday – Valentine’s Day – she was greeted by a torrent of criticism over her body and dress.

During a telephonic interview on Friday afternoon, Sunduza sounded like she was in high spirits. She explained that the dress had been a last-minute decision after a wardrobe emergency.

She said she had been uncertain about wearing it, but had no choice in the end. She knows she is overweight, but lives a healthy life; she exercises and doesn’t even use alcohol or eat chocolate, she says.

Would you like to impart a message to South African women? I ask.

“What I want to say is that women must start loving themselves,” she replies.

Hours after the interview, following a flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg, Sunduza collapsed while exiting OR Tambo after 8pm on Friday. Pictures show her sitting flat on the ground looking up, dazed; her handbag and luggage scattered around her.

A medic is at hand with a wheelchair, ready to take her to the Netcare Park Lane Clinic for treatment overnight. Gone was the fun and the pride we saw exuding from her twirling on the red carpet. She looks humiliated and defeated. It’s a very sad picture indeed.

We can see here that Twitter adds to the fashion game a very interesting, cruel twist. It’s so easy to disperse insults on the faceless internet. Let this serve as a swift reminder that the web is inhabited by very real people with real feelings after all.

Also, I think we need to nationalise local fashion. F*ck size zero.

SA fashion designers: Let’s make clothes that fit South African women, that celebrate our curves and bumps and make us feel beautiful. Never mind “real jobs”, how about “real fashion?”

Now, which lovely local designer will offer his or her services to give this pretty girl a makeover?

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