Stephanie Mark, Co-Founder, The Coveteur
"I’m one of the founders of Coveteur. Eight years ago, we started it in Toronto with the purpose of profiling behind-the-scenes people in the fashion world. At the time there was no Instagram and you’d see, say, Drew Barrymore on the cover of Vogue, but you didn’t really know who did her makeup, who styles her, who did her hair, who casted her. So it was our intention to showcase those people — in any creative field. I’d lived in New York a little bit and when I moved back [to New York again] I was like, ‘wow, everyone here is real skinny.’ That’s New York in general — it definitely was a shock when I first moved here. I think fashion is at a weird time where everything is not what it seems. The clothes people are posting in are not theirs. I personally love botox and filler but lots of people’s faces aren’t their own. And it warps your perception of what’s real. Only now have I been able to tell myself, ‘don’t pay attention to it.’ It used to really affect me. You think you look good and then you leave the house where someone is always better dressed than you, always skinnier than you, their filler is better than yours, their hair is better. It’s so much comparison. I do it, I’m sure everyone else does it too. It’s hard to escape when you work in fashion. It made me feel shitty for a long time. We would go to Paris for fashion week and everyone would be fabulous and I felt like no matter what I wore — or even if I borrowed something — I could never compete. I felt really out of place for a long time. Then I was like, fuck it.
Before I moved here I was super out of shape and I was eating like shit. And now, being healthy and taking care of myself has become such a huge part of who I am and how I feel joy. I honestly think the best thing to do is to whatever makes you you feel happiest and most comfortable. For some people that’s working out a lot — for some people it’s not. I think [looking sexy] has become less about what you’re wearing and more about how you’re carrying yourself. Culturally, that shift is huge. There is an acceptance of the fact that being skinny is not the only thing that makes someone pretty. The barometer used to be your size — not any other attribute. I also notice some of the younger women in the office are working out to be healthy, but they’re not as concerned about being skinny as I would say women who are 32 and up are.
Growing up, body image was never a topic of conversation in my house. At least never in the context of ‘a certain body should look like this.’ I have one sister, and I always had tiny boobs, and hers were bigger. I remember being younger and thinking, ‘your boobs are real, and mine are not.’ Still, I was never self conscious about my boobs being small. It only bothers me, to be honest, now. Recently I’ve been like, ‘I could go for some more tits.’ I think it’s maybe that you see so many more exposed bodies on the internet every day. The majority of what you see is still super skinny with big boobs, on a beach somehow all the time. I think it creates a false sense of reality. Like, what is achievable, what’s not, what’s natural, what’s not. But as I get older and my friends get older, we realize all our bodies are different. I’m very happy with my boobs, they serve me well. But I sometimes do feel bad for my fiancé. I wonder if he ever wishes there were more… to grab on to. [Laughs]
Recently I’ve been trying this thing where I say no to things so I don’t fucking collapse and die. Like, ‘OK, I said I was going to make dinner but I’m so exhausted, I can’t. I’m sorry.’ Or, ‘I know I said I would go out, but I don’t want to anymore.’ You don’t have to feel guilty. I think a lot of women do. In the workplace, women were always kind of screwed either way. You were either too nice and no one took you seriously, or you were tough and people would say, ‘she’s a bitch to work for.’ I was talking to my friend who was writing a “how to’ story about how to work with men. And it was like, you should dress up, but not too dressed up. Be sexy, but not too sexy. Even going out it was like, drink tequila — but not too much. But those norms are shifting extremely fast these days. Still, I’ll tell you what I think is mental: I think it’s mental when you can see men’s nipples and not women’s nipples. To me, that is the biggest mind boggler of all time. It’s the same thing. If you could see someone’s fingers you could see someone else’s fingers. I don’t know why women need to cover theirs up if men can show theirs. I’m a big fucking free the nipple person. Very few things are universal, but with nipples, everyone has them. [Laughs] A nipple is a nipple."
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.