of cosmosexuals and the feminine ideal

25Jun09

I ran across a very interesting opinion piece today. Penned with a fearless, frank, and kinda snarky voice by Irish journalist Kevin Myers, be aware that sexuality and its relation to fashion is the focus of the article.

We all know the givens when speaking of feminism and fashion:
-Yes, the fashion world perpetuates images of the female body that range through unrealistic, unhealthy, and unattainable.
-Yes, your average woman in a developed country sees plenty of these images to measure herself against.
-Yes, there have been small revolutions from within the industry to change.
-But, yes, we are continuing to see the same unrealistic/unhealthy/unattainable ideal perpetuated.

An incredibly kind guy (heterosexual, great appreciator of the brains and beauty of women) friend once said to me, “Men don’t need women who are so skinny! [referencing the emaciated model look] I wish you girls didn’t think it was so important, because we guys just don’t.”

Okay, so obviously most women disagree with their representation in the fashion ideal…and (according to my friend) many guys don’t hold with it either. So why are things this way, and why are they not changing? Myers attempts to answer that question, and his diagnosis is this: “Men who love women have been excluded from the process of dressing them.”*

He points to the lack of important female fashion designers and the large number of gay designers as the reasons the female ideal has slowly turned into, well, what looks remarkably like a teenage boy.

Myers is careful to add that, “these gay designers do not represent the attitudes of most gay men, who are usually very sympathetic to women” and he allows that this process could be a long-perpetuated but largely-unconscious movement. Yet while he doesn’t want to demonize the gay community, he’s fine with applying the treatment to the entity of Fashion with a capital F. Throughout the article, he renders the heads of this world akin to both Fascists and Marxists (ouch, the evil poster-children of both extremes), camp parodies, and denizens of the Fourth Reich. I won’t comment much on these claims, as I am not involved enough in the fashion world for my opinion to matter–other than it seems typical of opinion-column-verbage to err on the side of outrageous. But take away some of Myers’ opinion-esque wording, and there is certainly some truth in his words: particularly in his analysis of this plaguing issue of our culture’s female self-image, ideal, and its disconnect with the women of reality.

Definitely go give the article a read (if you missed clicking the link above, here’s another one). I’d love to hear your opinion on these claims. If you’re a woman, what is your response to these ideas? And if you’re a guy, what’s your take?

……………………………………………………….
* Whoa whoa what? In reading this statement outside of the article, my inner-feminist snaps her head up and demands that she does not need a man to dress her thankyouverymuch. If you had this reaction, definitely go read the statement in context of the actual piece. It’s not as shocking or ridiculous when you know where it’s coming from and where it’s going. Thank you, and back to your regularly scheduled programming.

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2 Responses to “of cosmosexuals and the feminine ideal”

  1. 1 Sarahs

    Hahaha, I thought the same thing about being dressed, even when reading the comment in context.

  2. I had never thought about the idea of gay designers trying to reinvent the female body to look like a teenage boy. That’s kinda creepy, not gonna lie. In my very unscientific observation of just living in the world, watching a lot of television and movies, reading a lot of women’s magazines, I’ve noticed a trend in editorial content moving towards promoting realistic views of beauty. This idea that you are beautiful no matter what they say, embrace your size, your curves, or lack thereof. Healthy is beautiful. But while articles and news programs, and even reality shows like “What Not to Wear” and “How to Look Good Naked” are promoting a healthy self-image, the advertising that accompanies them cancels it out with more pictures of unhealthy women, especially in fashion magazines. When will they converge? Who will make them? Why is it so profitable for the fashion industry to promote such an unhealthy image?


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