a few weeks ago i read naomi wolf's feminist manifesto,
the beauty myth and ever since then i have been racking my brain trying
to think of the best way to approach this subject with my fellow
fashion writers, beauty bloggers and lovely readers.
as a modern woman living in today's society (sounds cheesy, but true)
i have been completely engrossed in this culture of female beautification
ever since i was a little girl and i have loved it all along- without ever
questioning why i loved it. i have filled makeup bags to the brim,
searched endlessly for the mascara that will change my life, longed
for a brand new look or to make over a complete stranger,
to share with you a simple "glimpse of glamour..."
and yet hardly stop to ever think about why
(like most girls i know) i have this utter
preoccupation with beauty.
one of the culprits that naomi wolf addresses in her masterwork
is something so subtle, so part of a woman's every day life that we
would hardly ever believe that it can be so helpful yet so poisonous
all at the same time-- and that is women's magazines.
" the voice of the magazine gives women an invisible female authority
figure to admire and obey, parallel to the mentor-protege relationship
that many men are encouraged to forge in their educations and on the job,
but which women are rarely offered anywhere else
but in glossy magazines." (74)
according to wolf, women's magazines play a contradictory role in the
way that we see ourselves. they want us to feel empowered on one hand,
while simultaneously putting us down with the other. we are pitted against
each other for a piece of this invisible pie- so much so that we don't
know a thing about female camaraderie because our magazines tell us
to hate the girl who has it all.
we have no idea what a regular-sized woman looks like;
we have accepted surgically-altered faces into our realm of beauty's reality;
we completely shun the idea of aging and fight it tooth and nail with all
kinds of creams and gadgets; we feel guilt-ridden with every bite of food
that we ingest and everything we are not doing to be perfect, but we never
stop to ask-- in whose eyes are we trying to be perfect for?
as a blogger who loves and lives for fashion- i have to say that i am
having a tough time finding solid ground when it comes to where i stand on
this subject matter. i want to write a blog that is thoughtful and not just riddled
with pictures of skinny models and actresses no one will ever look like-
i want to discuss trends in beauty and fashion that are relevant- yet without
the added pressure of having to go out and spend money in order to
attain that perfection. i want to enjoy beautiful things for their own
sake, and to seek out beauty in things that are not
necessarily thought to be beautiful.
in her book, naomi wolf lays out the groundwork for what
she imagines would be an ideal magazine. i think from now
on it will be something i will model this blog by.
"imagine a woman's magazine that positively featured round models,
short models, old models- or no models at all, but real, individual women.
let's say that it has a policy of avoiding cruelty to women, as some now have a
policy of endorsing products made free of cruelty to animals. and that it left
out crash diets, mantras to achieve self-hatred, and promotional articles for
the profession that cuts open healthy women's bodies. and let's say that it ran
articles in praise of the magnificence of visible age, displayed loving photo essays
on the bodies of women of all shapes and proportions, examined with gentle
curiosity the body's changes after birth and breast-feeding, offered
recipes without punishment or guilt, and ran seductive
portraits of men."(83)