It’s been a few years since I cancelled my subscription to Marie Claire. Of all the fashion mags, this was the only one which, at least starting out, had regular, thoughtful articles that deal with women’s issues world wide. They also had features on how to translate the runway to cheaper alternatives. As a one-time fashion writer, this was of interest. I also loved that the editors put some work into finding fashionable goodies at prices Real People (read, those of us who don’t live in New York, LA, etc) can afford.
A few years back, they had a piece on shoes. Manolo Blanik had been an icon for years, and there was heated competition for Shoe King. With the advent of online discount outlets (TheOutnet.com and many like it), I began noticing a steep hike in the cost fashion. You could suddenly pay thousands for a genuinely hum-drum shoe, which fashion editors (because they have to) wrote about with that breathless stupidity of paid shills. About that time I saw a piece in the magazine which noted that a bargain basement shoe was $550. I have a two word response to that, Marie Claire editors, and it’s very rude. In no world does a good part of a mortgage payment for a plastic-heeled shoe make it cheap. I cancelled my subscription in protest. Useless, but it mattered to me.
I’ll pay several hundred for a shoe all right, but that goddamned shoe better save my life on the side of a mountain. That has happened, by the way, and it was one bloody good investment.
Sitting next to me on my table here in Bali is MC’s latest issue from February. Stuck at an airport and without a wifi connection, I succumbed. Always interesting to see what’s the latest. There are some intriguing differences.
For example, one thing I found heartening is a Target ad featuring a very strong woman — please, this woman has an ASS, powerful thighs and a real body- rather than the painfully thin versions which are airbrushed to perfection and handed to all of us females as How We Should Look.
There are of course plenty of the painfully thin, along with some of the most breathtakingly ugly clothing I have ever seen. Hey, that’s just me. I am no fan of a huge ballooning clown suit covered with feathery fringe that some fool thinks is worth many thousands, that you and I couldn’t possibly wear, and which belongs in a museum next to Stupid Fashion Mistakes. The editorial pages devoted to fashion are also thin indeed, but at least we still have excellent stories about potent women. For this latter, bravo. Fashion, 0. Editorial content, what little there is of it, 5.
Far be it for me to opine. A dear gay friend of mine commented to me that good fashion, truly good fashion, celebrated the body, rather than hid it. He’s right. That would be your REAL body, my REAL body, not some matchstick who exists on booze and cigarettes to keep her weight down.
However, for my part, having been one to battle my body for most of my adult life, what a shame, I thought, that MC can’t get it that the Target ad in their own mag is much more of what you and I can aspire to. Health. Power. Life-affirming energy. The happiness inherent in being happy in our own skin, which means, for example, eating well.
Having been 112 lbs and nearly dead from eating disorders, I am wickedly familiar with the attempt to look like those women on the pages of MC. Now I look a lot more like the woman in the Target ad. You and I can, of course, eschew the MCs and Vogues and Harper’s Bazaars of the world and buy mags that speak to workouts and body work. What a pity we can’t combine them. Strong, powerful women (think the Williams sisters) in gorgeous clothing. Designer clothing- and I still love mine- that compliments and celebrates the powerful curves of our muscles.
Not long ago I wrote about how annoyed I was to see a piece on Facebook by an elite climber who was berating herself for not fitting into a size 2 gown in a boutique dressing room. Of course she can’t. She is built for her sport, not the starving bodies of models. Her powerful upper body is a twelve, her lower body a two. Gowns aren’t made for athletes like that. For me either. I’ve got powerful arms and legs, and while I can fit smaller sizes, most designer clothing simply isn’t made for this body. Tits and hips and biceps and the long sweet sweep of quads.
I doubt I’ll live long enough to see the fashion industry mature to this point. Maybe. I can sure hope. Because as long as the industry celebrates half-dead women as a way to showcase their designs, young women- and me included for four decades- will starve ourselves to reach that ideal.
When the ideal really is that Target ad. The body we have, the body we were born with, strengthened and sculpted to be the best body we can have. Strong. Fit. Not defined by some fantasy ideal that has nothing whatsoever to do with reality.
Bravo Target. It’s progress.