Where did it all go so wrong?

>> Monday, 31 October 2011

Yesterday Husband and I decided to exercise our Culture muscles and expose ourselves and The Boys to a little more than Halloween candy and dvd's for a change, and headed off on a trip to The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in downtown Moscow. We ignored the round the block queues for the Salvador Dali exhibition, and instead joined a much shorter one that gave us access to two exhibitions; Kandinsky and Annie Leibovitz. The former was interesting, although not very extensive, but the latter was amazing.

However, this post is not about the genius of Annie Leibovitz; I'm not an art critic, I wouldn't be able to do her photography justice. This post is about one particular photograph of hers that got my attention among a host of other attention-getting images. I'm not going to reproduce it here - I don't know the copyright laws well enough to feel comfortable that I wouldn't be breaking any of them - but I will describe it to you, and provide a link in the paragraph below.

This photograph was taken in 1993, I believe for Vanity Fair, and shows Cindy Crawford wearing only a boa constrictor. It's an arresting image in it's own right - she was then, and is now, a beautiful woman - but the thing that really stopped me in my tracks was her shape. She looks like a real woman. An amazing, incredible woman, who could charge $10K simply to get out of bed in the morning (allegedly), but still, a real woman. Unlike many of the size 0 models held up as having the shape we should aspire today, she had a shape that I recognise, that women I actually knew, friends of mine, were not so distant from.

Fast-forward to today, when girls as young as 12 and 13 will refuse dessert on the grounds that they are watching their weight, stick-thin models sashay down the catwalks on legs that look as if they would snap if their heel turned the wrong way, and magazines berate celebrities for not losing their baby weight fast enough or for showing a couple of inches of extra flab around their waists on the beach.

In these supposedly emancipated times, when women have more control over their own bodies and destinies than they have had throughout history to date, how did we let this happen? How did we get from Cindy and her ilk - incredible bodies, yes, but not so far removed from our own as to be unrecogniseable - to the size 0 culture of today, in less than 20 years?

Where did it all go so wrong?

Please note; no Boys were corrupted in the making of this post. Neither of them paid much attention to the naked women on view, much preferring to fight each other for space on the seats than to pay close attention to the photos being exhibited. Although Boy #2 did comment on a series of shots of a crying baby, still covered in vernix, that had just been born, saying that it looked very unhappy and as if 'it wasn't having much fun.' See this previous post for my sons' views on childbirth...


Expat mum 31 October 2011 at 19:16  

Hmmm...Twiggy? I don't know, it seems that apart from Cindy and the first Super models of her ilk, women have always been trying to be dead skinny. And even Cindy, for all her "curves" is a lot slimmer than mot women.

Nora 31 October 2011 at 21:45  

I agree with you, PM. We need to learn to love realistically shaped women.I frankly don't think that men are interested in stick figures. It's something women do to themselves. We all need to dare not to be size zeros. Thank goodness there are lots of shops where you can buy sizes that are more realistic.

MsCaroline 31 October 2011 at 22:44  

This is such an interesting topic, on many levels. My brother-in-law posted this video about the misrepresentation of women in the media: It's called 'MISSRepresentation' http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myYiuk28NRw

I don't think he'd ever thought about any of this until he had a daughter. Some of the statistics are absolutely mind-numbing, especially for Americans (turns out that we have fewer female legislators than Iraq, Afghanistan, and Cuba...food for thought.) (I know you've posted similar videos before, apologies if I already ran across this on your site and just didn't realize it.)

Iota 1 November 2011 at 04:02  

I agree with Nora. I don't think men like the stick-thin look.

Yes, how on earth did size zero get to be attractive? Wise up, women of the world!

Muddling Along 1 November 2011 at 16:27  

My best friend and I reckon we can date men as to pre and post Kate Moss - pre KM they are happy with curves and a woman who looks like a woman, post KM they like something more androgenous...

It's a real shame that we are bringing up a generation of boys and girls to think that curvy = bad when it is actually the norm. Bring back voluptous women!

About Last Weekend 1 November 2011 at 21:17  

Have times changed. I'm not sure images from the media have changed that much. Models have always been gaunt, even in the Fourties and great to see shows like Madmen showing more normal figures. For sure though the young girls talk about how much they weigh and calories.

Jo Beaufoix 2 November 2011 at 17:22  

Wow, she looks amazing AND she has thighs. I'm with Nora too, most men do like women with curves so there's hope for a more plumptious lady like myself. :D

Weirdly though, I used to think she was VERY thin and now I look at that and think like you, hmmm normal, yet really that isn't normal. How many women actual have tummies and arms like that? We're so used to seeing tall willowy women that our judgement is all gone to buggery (technical term).

Where indeed has it all gone wrong? (Not that there's anything wrong with being tall and willowy either. Sighhhhhh.)

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