Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Let's keep it unreal

Karl Lagerfeld has a point.

Naturally, there was outrage when fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld recently said only “fat mummies” object to skinny models on the catwalk, but I think his point about the growing pressure to put “real” women in magazines and fashion shows wasn’t so off the mark.

It's not supposed to be real. And that applies to men too.

If you want to look at a “real” woman or man, stand in front of the bathroom mirror, then ask yourself, “Do I belong on the pages of a fashion magazine?” I’d hazard a guess the answer is a resounding, “Oh Good God, No!  At least, not with a little tweaking, anyway.”

That doesn’t mean you’re not gorgeous, beautiful, handsome, very sexy even. It just means that on the odd occasion we fork out $10 for a glossy, if we’re stuck looking at people just like us, it's a waste of money.

Body image is obviously a sensitive subject. There are those who will try to argue that the fashion industry is responsible for an epidemic of eating disorders.  Some say yummy mummies put too much pressure on women to lose weight after pregnancy, or teen stars are why ten-year-olds want a bra - the "sexualisation" of children.

Give me a break!

There are arguments to support all these perspectives, but if you're going to argue that it's as simple as skinny = bad/curvy = good, or fantasy = bad/real = good, then you are kidding yourselves.

Last month commentators, including Mia Freedman, sang the joys of emancipation when American Glamour magazine published a picture of a woman with her belly hanging out. It did not have the same effect on me. I do not feel a strong need to see my own flab, let along another woman’s.

I’m probably not the only one, which might explain why the picture was on page 194.

Lagerfeld’s fabulously bitchy comments were in response to the announcement by a German magazine that its January issue would feature only non-models.

He said: "These are fat mummies sitting with their bags of crisps in front of the television, saying that thin models are ugly." I grant he could be wrong on that point - there’s a world wide, intelligent debate underway about body image and how to deal with it.

Lagerfeld went on to say fashion was about, "dreams and illusions, and no one wants to see round women." It’s an inelegant argument but it shouldn’t be immediately shouted down.

Imagine if our entire internal lives were all about reality. No dreams, no aspirations and no fantasies. For all but a few of us it would get pretty old pretty quickly.

When I shop for lipstick, I do not want someone reminding me that it isn't going to make me look even a tiny bit more glamorous and sophisticated.  And don’t even bother trying on that dress because the best you can hope for is "real".

How you were treated you as a kid, what your friends look like, how they act, and how your partner treats you, has a much greater influence over how you feel about yourself than any amount of photographs of Heidi Klum you may be exposed to.

Fantasies are not a bad thing. Mothers who worry about the effect they might have on their daughters just need to teach them there’s a difference between real and unreal.

Removing the fantasy altogether won’t change a thing.

1 comment:

Oswald Bastable said...

Over here we have the classic Femme Fatale (sp?)

But she wouldn't get her picture in the Warehouse mailer now!

Looks like fantasies change too...