In the flurry of back to college errands, a schedule amok with waiting rooms and lengthy lines, I've been spending more and more time with fashion magazines- Vogue, Glamour, Cosmo, InStyle, US Weekly, Harper's Bazaar- and I've discovered a curious thing.
Fashion magazines, for the most part, continue the vicious cycle of flaccid femininity my foremothers have been fighting against since Artemisia Gentileschi took up a paintbrush and Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden realized there was no heir except Christina, his infant daughter, and declared to the nation that she was to be educated as a prince.
The sex roles of the woman and girl valued for their beauty and breeding, their bread and their bosoms, may seem a far call from the stick-thin women trotting down the most expensive catwalks New York designers can buy, but think about it this way: if half of your population is absorbed with a superficial fancy, be it keeping up with the Jones's cave, farm or even soccer mom minivan fantasy, what Rachel Bilson wore to Friday's shows, or even Gwyneth Paltrow's latest newsletter, then how can you claim gender equality?
Carla Bruni, December 23, 1967 and now known by her name of use Carla Bruni-Sarkozy is an Italian-French singer, songwriter and former model. She married the then President of the French Republic Nicolas Sarkozy in February 2008. | Photo: |
Even when slapped cruelly across the face with the text of the 19th amendment, (especially since that bruise is totally not going to go with your Manolo Blahnik's you had picked out) we must face the truth that is the sexist double standard the fashion industry imbues every fledgling feminist with at an early age.
Not that the magazines should be held entirely accountable- some blame must lie with the designers and their sponsors, buying into the myth that Fashion Week and its like are genuine expressions of ingenuity and celebrations of the beauty the human body is capable of, not a warped rejection of the excess our country gluttonously prides itself on and seems intent on exporting wherever McDonald's is now served to the opposite unhealthy extreme. Michael Stars, Isaac Mizrahi, could you explain how protruding hip bones and twelve inch heels inspire respect in the workplace or the real world, or even contribute positively to survival? Admittedly, taller people tend to gain positions of power better than shorter people, but in a day and age when women are still being paid 80 cents to every dollar a man makes, it still doesn't measure up.
As for the power struggle, one only need look at a clothing or perfume ad in any major magazine- simulated rape, dehumanizing ethnic minority women, objectifying women's bodies (a sexy torso as a beer bottle, anyone?). Feel free to argue that women can seize power by manipulating men's desire for our bodies, though the demotion to legal prostitution might not win anyone in the Fundamentalist camp over. On second thought, they'd probably love it, just another reason getting kicked out of the garden of Eden was Eve's fault.
Women of the world! Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana may have been the height of beauty in their eras, but they had no power! Yes, Carla Bruni and Michelle Obama get to make statements to the press and look fabulous, but through the grace and positions of their husbands! Strive to hold power for yourself, and not just because you're sexy as all get-out.
Power lies within the grasp of our meticulously manicured nails that compliment our Hudsons- the time for revolution is now!
Of course Michelle Obama never said such a thing...
In a related story / video
: France's first lady Carla Bruni denied Monday that her U.S. counterpart ever told her that life in the White House was 'hell.'
"Of course Michelle Obama never said such a thing," the former model told CNN at the French mission in Midtown. She arrived Monday at the United Nations on the arm of her husband, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who was attending a summit on global development.
The quote came from the unauthorized "Carla et les Ambitieux" ("Carla and the Ambitious"), written by Michael Darmon and Yves Derai and published last week.
In a passage about the French first couple's official visit to Washington last March, the book describes an official dinner at the White House in which Bruni reportedly asked Michelle Obama about life at the White House and her role as first lady.
Michelle Obama reportedly responded that the job is like 'hell' and that she can't stand it.
Bruni said Monday that she had not read the book and had no plans to take legal action against the authors. "France is a free country where anyone can, you know, fantasize and print it," she said, adding that taking legal action would simply give further publicity to the authors.
"Second of all, it's not in my principle," she said. "You know -- I'm a democrat. I believe that everyone is allowed to say and write what they want."
The White House has also denied that Michelle Obama made the comment.