Friday, 25 February 2011

Boys will be girls

Ok, I have to admit that this worries me.
Not because I have any problem with transvesticism or androgyny; I'm a supporter of both, and I think on many levels it's a great thing that Pejic is able to express that side of himself in his chosen career. I have no problems with what his success means for men - quite the opposite - but I am concerned about what this means for women.

Statements like " Pejic has captivated designers, with his build regarded as nearly perfect for modelling high fashion looks. Couture wear is made for the tall, twiggy and flat bodies that most women, even models, don't have. Essentially, the clothing is quite suitable for a lean man or even a boy" are a stark admission from the fashion world that female beauty is not good enough. That women aren't "the right shape" to model clothes, because they are women. Because they have hips and breasts and it's a rare woman who can manage 5'11''. (I'm the tallest woman of my aquaintance and I'm still only 5'10''. Plus I have hips like a cello and thighs a baby elephant could be proud of.) Those things that make women women, and not men or children, are the things that the women's fashion industry can't stomach.

And that is a very damaging trend to be encouraging, not least because it encourages the dangerous dietary habits that have seen models actually starve themselves to death, and promotes a fashionable ideal of beauty that is damaging to the self-confidence and self-image of over 90% of women exposed to it, but also because of the latent mysogyny it exposes. I don't even think mysogyny is the right word, because this kind of admission seems to betray such a hatred and loathing of women's bodies that in order to make them palatable they have to be shorn of everything that makes them distinguishable from a pretty boy, and I think that goes a step or two beyond what I feel the word "mysogyny" encompasses.

People wonder why there aren't so many women designers in the fashion industry - I want to say that's because the industry isn't about women any more. It's about men, designing clothes - really - for other men.