Rosemary Mac Cabe

Hemlines, heels and haute couture – your daily dose

What a difference a light hand makes – Gwen Stefani covers Marie-Claire’s November issue

Remember this? While Elle chose having No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani as their October cover star as an excuse to go all Gwen Stefani Barbie on us, Marie-Claire have stuck to Stefani’s slightly grungy roots with an edgier, more utilitarian feel …

Thu, Sep 13, 2012, 10:30

   

Remember this? While Elle chose having No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani as their October cover star as an excuse to go all Gwen Stefani Barbie on us, Marie-Claire have stuck to Stefani’s slightly grungy roots with an edgier, more utilitarian feel and, let’s face it, a whole lot less Photoshop.

The pursuit of perfection in terms of fashion advertising and magazines is something that I’ve spent more of my life thinking about than I’d like to admit; my MA thesis was based on the oppression of women at the hands of women’s magazines, and these past few weeks I’ve had some great chats with Mike O’Brien from Real Beauty Modelling about what women want to see in the role models they’re presented with.

The thing that comes out of these discussions – with Mike but, more importantly, with women – is that we don’t want to see women who have been retouched to oblivion. We don’t need super-clear skin; we don’t mind a stray hair or two. We understand that some people have freckles, and some people have hairier arms than others, and some people have more flesh on their bellies than others. We don’t care about this relentless pursuit of perfection – it is not for us.

But who, then, is it for? Who drives this desire for clear, smooth skin; shiny, reflective hair shafts; clean lines and brows that don’t furrow? Is it advertising execs? Is it the people who advertise? Is it the editors, sitting behind the desks and checking through photo reels?

Because the thing is: I’m not going to stop buying magazines because I hate this version of plastic perfection. Yes, magazines sometimes make me feel a bit shit. But mostly they make me feel excited: about fashion, first and foremost, but also about new beginnings, fresh starts and new hope. They make me proud, happy and optimistic about being a woman. I love knowing that I can get a regular fix of fashion, trends, make-up, haircare, books, DVDs, cultural happenings, interviews, in a format that is compiled specifically for me – a woman in the 20-40 age bracket who loves fashion.

I don’t feel ashamed of these allegedly ”shallow” pursuits, but I do feel ashamed of this vision of femininity that magazine editors consistently present us with – a vision that is as far from reality as it could possibly get. What’s the solution?

(That question is rhetorical, by the way, because I sure as hell don’t know.)

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