Rosemary Mac Cabe

Hemlines, heels and haute couture – your daily dose

The return of the Marilyn Monroe figure, says Debenhams

I love getting press releases from Debenhams. It’s not like getting press releases from, say, New Look, which are quite regular and contain “in this week” items, which I love because it gives me an easy-to-digest snippet, or press releases …

Thu, Feb 24, 2011, 17:54

   

I love getting press releases from Debenhams. It’s not like getting press releases from, say, New Look, which are quite regular and contain “in this week” items, which I love because it gives me an easy-to-digest snippet, or press releases from Topshop, which say “we’re doing a collaboration with some random obscure designer for London Fashion Week“, which I also love because, well, it makes me feel that little bit closer to London Fashion Week, innit.

Debenhams, on the other hand, produces press releases with studies in them. Bless their press department, but they must feel like they’re writing a thesis every couple of days. Sometimes they’ll say things such as, “women like thoughtful gifts above all else” (Valentine’s Day) or “women in their forties are more likely to wear Clarins than any other brand*” (Mother’s Day) or “99.99% of women wear the wrong bra size” (not date-specific).

This week’s ditty is entitled “The return of the Marilyn Monroe figure – definition of female beauty is changing!” I particularly like the exclamation mark, as I feel it lends a jaunty feel to proceedings and actually, loathe as I am to admit it, makes me more likely to read it than were it simply full-stopped. Something fun is going to happen in this email! That’s what I read in that.

Then: “Ireland’s perception of what an ideal women should look like is changing yet again, says high street store Debenhams.” I love – and no I am not really being sarcastic because I do in fact think this is hilarious – the fact that Debenhams sets itself up as an authority. If Debenhams says it, then by golly it must be true!

Anyway, this is all well and good but my main issue with this is: why, oh why, do women have to be given an ideal body type? When was it decreed that there is an official line – that women must subscribe to an ideal of beauty, of aesthetics, that our bodies are not our own? Honestly I could go on about it forever, but I strongly object to being given an ideal body, modelled on a celebrity, or a model, or an actor . . . I’m agin it. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and handing us an ideal that is “curvier” doesn’t automatically make it more accessible – getting someone else’s body shape is going to be difficult for the 99% of the population that isn’t naturally blessed with it, regardless of what that shape is.

If you’re agin it too, and you haven’t already, might I suggest you read: The Beauty Myth, by Naomi Wolf; Bodies, by Susie Orbach; Fat is a Feminist Issue, also by Susie Orbach; The Equality Illusion, by Kat Banyard; and The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer. But don’t get mad at Debenhams; he ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.

* This one is entirely made up by me.

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