Body shape, Yin and Yang, Style… what are they?
You may have heard me talking about Yin&Yang, personal style and body shape; but what is all of this exactly?
In this article, I will give you an explanation that I hope will clarify your ideas and will gather some interest in the topic. I will use some personal stories as well, and I hope I’ll be able to catch your interest.
In the 80s David Kibbe, an image professional from New York developed a system aimed at identifying different body types based on one’s personal features.
Celebrities and stylists found it very interesting and started to use it to create more suitable outfits, makeup and matching accessories.
In 1987, Kibbe also published his book David Kibbe’s Metamorphosis: Discover Your Image Identity and Dazzle as Only YOU Can.
In his book, Kibbe identifies 13 different body types based on the philosophy of Yin and Yang, where Yin types tend to have softer features, smooth lines, flowing silhouettes, round shapes whereas Yang types tend to be characterised by geometric patterns, angular, harsh lines, elongated silhouettes and verticality.
However, these descriptions are quite reductive and do not look at an individual holistically.
Now, not only this book is out of print, but it’s also outdated. It has created a good fundamental to evolve our current ways of working with the personal image. It was clearly geared mostly towards women, it was very academic and while it tried to pick on someone’s essence it was still too strict to be applied universally.
Many image experts have used Kibbe’s body types to create their own system, including Giusy De Gori, my teacher and mentor. Her system takes some inspiration from Kibbe but it takes it to another level where body diversity, inclusivity and personality of the individual become a focal point, more than the actual style that a specific body shape should follow.
So, let’s see together the basic image archetypes. The name in brackets would be the Kibbe name, while the other one would be the terminology used by Giusy. I will use both of them interchangeably. We will be looking only at the first 7 basic ones for now.
An important note: Yin and Yang have nothing to do with gender. You can be a woman with only Yang elements and be incredibly feminine. You can be a man with a strong Yin element and still be masculine.
For instance, the beautiful Zendaya is completely Yang, the handsome Timothee Chalamet is totally Yin.
Based on the combination of Yin and Yang elements, there will be several body shapes and image archetypes. These 7 are the pure categories. However, it’s really hard to find an individual that is part of a pure category only. You can be pure Yin and be Charming+Mystic, for instance. You are pure Yin but you are not a pure category. A pure category would be somebody that is only Charming, for example.
The combinations of these categories will create very specific styles, that are at the base of one’s essence. Honestly, I don’t want to dig deeper into the theory behind it, I think it’s tedious and useless for our purpose.
What I want you to know, instead, is that by using these categories as a base, we can look at your own characteristics:
- Your body shape (hourglass, pear, triangle, inverted triangle, rectangle, apple, etc…)
- Your bone structure
- Your face shape and structure (face and body can be totally different, you can have a yin body and a yang face or vice versa)
- Your personality
- The message you want to send with your image
- What you like/dislike
- How certain outfits, accessories, hairstyles and makeup look on you
- Your perception of your own image
- Your seasonal colour analysis
We won’t bend to any beauty standard, because if there is something that I’ve learned by doing this job and learning from Giusy de Gori about style, body shape and image is that YOU are your own beauty standard.
Once we identify your Yin and Yang balance, we will be able to start creating your personal style. It’s a long work but it’s totally worth it!
You will be saving a lot of money when shopping and you will be incredibly happy with your own looks.
Another thing that is important to know is that no matter if you gain or lose weight, your body shape doesn’t change: you may find different ways to enhance your looks however differently than what some people might think, your style won’t change since your bone and physical structure remains the same. Some changes might happen if you do plastic surgery but that’s a different story.
A little personal anecdote, you can skip if you like:
It took a long time to love myself: I’ve never met any particular beauty standard based on the environment I was raised in. I come from Italy and I was born in 1990 when the standard of beauty was set by the likes of Kate Moss, Gisele Bundchen, Gwen Stefani, Jennifer Aniston, Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell (as somebody more “diverse” because she’s black, but this was the maximum of diversity representation).
There were no bigger bodies, nobody that really looked like me: I’ve never been super skinny, I have dark hair and dark eyes, I’m quite short… I remember when they were defining the likes of Marilyn Monroe or Sophia Loren as curvy when I was looking for beauty icons looking like me, but I still couldn’t identify myself with them. So I always thought there was something wrong with me – until after years of hating the way I look, trying to change my image in every possible way, wearing outfits that clearly didn’t suit me and wanting to look in a way that I physically couldn’t, I discovered that it was possible to enhance your beauty in different ways. It took more than 20 years to find out this, and sometimes I still have those moments when I don’t like myself, but it’s getting better.
I discovered the Yin and Yang, the image archetypes, the body shapes… I discovered how we can use fashion, makeup and accessories based on our features to enhance them and by travelling, discovering different countries and cultures and with the trends changing we are finally getting to a point where body inclusivity and diversity are finally starting to be more accepted and celebrated. Eventually, I booked a colour and style analysis with Giusy de Gori, and I fell in love with her approach – the reason why I also asked her to be my teacher and mentor in order to start a career in image consultation.
So why did I tell you this brief personal story?
Because I am one of those people that has been struggling with personal image for ages and this is why I chose to divulge what I have learned, my own experiences and help other individuals that feel or have felt like I did.
End of personal anecdote.
I’m sure Kibbe had great intentions when creating this system, however nowadays where gender and body diversity is a hot topic, where we put a stronger focus on mental health and body inclusivity the way he talks about the different body types can be triggering for some individuals. My goal is to go beyond that, avoid putting you in a box and actually give you tools to find by yourself the outfits, accessories and makeup that enhances your beauty according to you. We will be able to discover things that maybe you didn’t even know would look awesome on you.
So, if for example, we identify that you have in your image archetype both Charming and Power we will be looking together at elements of both, combine them, look at your season as well and create your own personal looks that will make you stand out.
We will be looking into the different combinations for Yin and Yang in another post, for now, I hope this was helpful in understanding more about this concept.
Any questions? Clarifications? Want to book a consultation? Leave me a comment or reach out!
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