A long time ago, Beauty used to be a pretty big lady. Voluptuous, as they say. She didn’t just have curves. No, it was perfectly acceptable for her to have a few rolls and maybe even an extra chin. Nowadays beauty is a death camp inmate with subtle signs of malnutrition photoshoped and make-upped out of the picture. The bloodshot eyes, the pallid skin color, the retreating gumline…nothing a little Gaussian blur and base can’t fix.
It seems that this culture’s ideal of feminine beauty is no longer a woman.
Today I picked up my wife’s copy of Harper’s Bazaar and blinked a few times. Every single one of those girls is under 100 pounds (and under 18). Now, I know that there is a good reason the fashion industry covets the human coat hanger. Women, especially the young trendsetters, buy into this distortion. It works. It sells clothes. It’s not that men want women that thin – oh god no. It’s actually kind of repulsive. My opinion is that the fashion-conscious female consumers are themselves foisting this hollow tubercular image onto the world by buying the damn clothes.
Marilyn Monroe never would have made it in show biz today. Too fat.
That’s not to say that men these days want the fat lady again. No no no, we still prefer svelt chicks with 36 D’s hanging off their chest than real womyn with blemishes, bulges, and other anatomical irregularities - our fantasy lives still require an expert wrist on photoshop. So we’re not exactly helping the situation. But this current sicko trend, well, that’s not our perversions at work.
As I flip through Harper’s I notice that the girls are mostly expressionless. When did beauty get so morose? I mean, there’s absolutely no sign of emotion or thought. No smiles. No sexy stare. No passion. They’re probably too hungry for emotion. Jil Sander said, “Beauty depends on the richness of your character.” Diana Vreeland said, “Without emotion, there is no beauty.” I can’t help but agree with them both.
As always, the REAL victims here are the young girls who are having this unhealthy farce forced onto their consciousness day in and day out. It’s no wonder that they develop a low self-esteem when hundreds of times they’re told that the more womanly they get the less they will measure up. I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I’d believe just about anything about myself after that degree of repetition. The subsequent hang-ups that they develop are express shipped right into their adult lives and their marriages.
And that’s where this meandering diatribe brings me to Dove’s much talked about real women, real beauty campaign. I like where their head was at when they first got the idea: Let’s celebrate the way woman’s bodies really are, not the way they’re being portrayed in the media. But then they fell asleep at the wheel. Dove’s agency (Ogilvy?) simply slaps images of somewhat buxom women onto their ads and calls it a day. There is no story there. There is no idea. There is nothing to capture the imagination. The message, that they are using real women with real bodies, is too blunt and self-congratulatory to make any real impact. It’s a flash in the pan, as they say.
For advertising to change the culture, it really needs to capture the imagination.
Cut to a woman’s basketball game. Let’s call it college ball. The stadium is rocking. You can hear a woman heckling the ref and players on the other team. She hounds the point guard, cackles, then picks another target. The opposing team is frazzled. Someone else yells at her. It’s a game for chrissakes. And then the logo comes up, swoosh, just do it.
This isn't about beauty - but it helps to illustrate my point. To me, it says that women’s sports are mainstream. It’s inspiring. It captures my imagination and transforms my perceptions. Before I thought woman’s sports were just a polite gesture by men. Oh, sure, you can play too. Here’s some cash. Now I think, well, they even have hecklers, this shit has caught on. People are into it.
Nike never ran that spot, by the way. It was merely described to me by the Goodby writer (Jim Haven – now of Creature) who had presented it. The client had said it was ahead of its time.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
"Little by little fills the cup."
- Kiswahili Saying