Robin Givhan ["Sorry, Dove: Bigger Isn't Necessarily Better," Style, Aug. 19] missed the point: The reason so many women respond positively to such rare media images of average size women is precisely because we are routinely excluded by the fashion world.

Givhan defends the common conceit that fashion is an elaborate system of fantasy that magically yields "cultural breakthroughs." Fashion is not art; it is merely marketing. The real reason that the industry uses images of women who are typically six feet tall with 25-inch waists and surgically enlarged breasts, and then uses computer enhancements to make them look even thinner and more bosomy, is to make ready-to-wear clothing look good so that consumers will buy the clothes. The flip side of this given, artificial aesthetic is that most of the apparel peddled by the fashion media does not look good on average women.

Unfortunately, most fashion designers have no idea how to make clothes that enhance the looks and self-esteem of average or plus size women. These days, most designers do not know how to sew, much less fit, clothing. Most designers never learn how to design for average women, the type that Givhan would not want to encounter in a locker room.

So if many of us delight in the Dove ad's images it is not because we are "delicate creatures," but because we reject the fashion industry that rejects us. If Givhan finds the term "real women" to be "infuriating," perhaps it is because she feels threatened by reality. "Real women" not only have curves, but they wear real clothes, not fantasies.

-- Barbara Deckert