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Old 29th December 2009   #10
Join Date: July 2005
Posts: 1,784
Default Re: More on the Ralph Lauren controversy

Originally Posted by MelanieW
Designers are treating women like inanimate objects that they can starve and torture at will - literally distort, regardless of the physical and psychological damage that this does to women.

Feminism likes to charge that heterosexual males "objectify" women, but I consider that nonsense. Even when they only appreciate women physically, at least they are appreciating something human. But these fashion designers are TRULY objectifying women, in the sense of treating them as inhuman objects to be distorted at their whim, without any thought of the consequences of their actions.

A very interesting and persuasive point.

This thread is filled with links to important articles and significant excerpts from those articles, as well as insightful analyses of the issues at hand. How surprising that such a mundane incident as the poor airbrushing of a single image should have generated such a thorough rebuke of the fashion industry. Undoubtedly it was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back, and released years of pent-up anger against the fashion world and its abuses.

However, the opinion piece that Melanie linked above is the most significant item in this thread, as its author deals squarely with the controversial but unavoidable issue of the orientation of the individuals who control the fashion industry. Such matters of orientation wouldn't be anyone's business, except for the fact that they directly impact the standard of appearance that the industry imposes on women.

Moreover, the quotes that the article includes indicate the colossal arrogance of the individuals who dominate fashion, and their unmitigated contempt for the very women whose appearance they deform with their androgynous vision, and whose money supports their profession and their lifestyles. Reading those quotations from fashion insiders makes it comprehensible how the people who run this industry could be as heedless as they are of the eating disorders that their standards cause. They simply don't care. Not only do they consider themselves "better" than the rest of society (their own words!), but what's worse, they don't have any regard for others at all.

It would even be false to accuse them of prioritizing their selfish "fantasies" over people's actual lives and well-being, because it would dignify their twisted vision too much label it a "fantasy," since that word implies beauty. Rather it is a nightmare, a warped, ugly distortion, a grotesque house of horrors. The Ralph Lauren ad is merely one isolated example of a perverted aesthetic that is the norm, not the exception in this industry. And the most appalling fact of all is that the people who generate it are proud of their obscenities. They revel in the public's discomfort. They relish society's umbrage--because they feel such contempt for everyone outside of their circle.

The article is also helpful because it explicitly relates the world of "high" fashion to the world of modern art. On this forum, we have stressed this link for years, arguing that the two worlds are blighted by the same problems, and dominated by the same types of personalities. Both fields suffer fro the same imposition of a warped aesthetic that is alien to most of society, and favoured by a tiny cabal of like-minded, fringe individuals. The fact that they have such freakish tastes would be irrelevant, except, just as they do in fashion, they have established a complete monopoly on the cultural world. The article reveals how impossible it is for someone to exist in the world of modern art unless they conform to its tastes, and even adopts the personal mannerisms of its chiefs.

If their worlds were just their own little corners of the universe, without any impact on the society at large, none of this would matter. But instead, it matters a great deal, because their decisions in the arts affect the entire culture of the West. And in fashion, their influence is even more pervasive, and even more harmful, because it shapes (and ruins) the self-image of the majority of women worldwide.

The power that these individuals wield is too great, and the standards that they impose too corrosive, for them to be allowed to operate with no public accountability whatsoever. The industry needs regulation, at the very least of the kind that is being proposed in Europe, where bans on airbrushing are being tabled, and misleading ads are being rejected.

But the root cause still needs to be addressed. Either the individuals who control fashion need to finally confront the fact that their cherished aesthetic is toxic to society, and that they can no more continue to propagate it than if their fetish were to promote hard drugs; or, they simply need to be replaced, their monopoly must be broken, and different individuals with healthier aesthetic visions need to be put in their place.

Another view of the fair, plump, pink-cheeked Hilda Clark, from a Coca-Cola ad circa 1900. Notice the round, full arms, and the absence of a visible clavicle (wholly submerged in soft flesh). Gorgeous, feminine dress, and a lovely floral motif. It is possible to have a healthy commercial culture--one that celebrates femininity, exudes natural beauty, and meliorates rather than destroys women's body image.

The beauty aestheic existed for thousands of years. It can exist again.

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