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Old 19th August 2005   #1
HSG
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Default ''Reality'': A Distortion


Does the title of this post seem puzzling? Isn't calling reality a "distortion" a contradiction in terms?

Before we incur the wrath of Ayn Rand devotees for seeming to claim that A is not A, we should specify that we are not actually asserting that reality itself is a distortion, but rather, the way in which so-called "reality" is currently being used as a marketing ploy.

Current "reality-based" campaigns operate on the premise that beauty must be eliminated from images altogether, in order to make them seem "real."

But advertisements in which beauty is notably absent are just as artificial as are advertisements which pretend that only thinness is beautiful.

Removing all traces of beauty is just as much of a distortion as is removing all traces of the fuller female figure.

One practice is just as exclusionary as the other.

Both approaches achieve the same result, because both banish the timeless feminine ideal from the mass media.

Both approaches create artificial worlds in which plus-size goddesses, seemingly, do not exist.

And the suppression of beauty is as complete a misrepresentation of the world in which we live as is the suppression of curves.

As we noted in a recent post, our world today is teeming with plus-size beauty. In contemporary society, curvaceous girls are gorgeous--and they know it. From makeup, to hair, to clothing, today's curvy vixens are just as adept at the arts of attraction as are their underweight rivals.

But so-called "reality-based" campaigns have this much in common with anorex-chic fashion advertising:

Both imply that the most beautiful full-figured girls cannot be glamorous fashion models.

Both imply that plus-size goddesses do not exist.

And neither approach allows plus-size beauty to be seen.

They are both exclusionary of the very same aesthetic, but from opposite ends.

Thin-supremacist fashion advertising excludes plus-size beauty because it excludes plus sizes.

"Reality-based" fashion advertising excludes plus-size beauty because it excludes beauty.

If Lillian Russell were alive today, her look would be rejected by the "reality" trend for being too beautiful, and by the fashion elites for being too curvaceous.

So much for inclusion.

In their mutually, selectively exclusionary nature, and in their common suppression of plus-size beauty, the "reality" trend and the thin-supremacist fashion establishment have more in common than one might think.

In fact--whether wittingly or not--the one is the de facto ally of the other.

This "reality" trend allows the straight-size establishment to deflect criticism away from itself by saying, "See? We are allowing full-figured women in our magazines" (but only in plain settings, wearing plain attire, and looking as plain as possible). But models with gorgeous facial features, exquisite hairstyles, glamorous makeup, photographed in gorgeous ways, wearing stylish clothing, and shot in exotic settings--that, they will keep for the anorexic girls.

Not until the media overcomes this false duality (either full-figured, or gorgeous, but never both) will the timeless ideal return to cultural prominence.

Kate Dillon modelling for Pia Antonia (Austria):

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Old 20th August 2005   #2
Emily
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Default Re: ''Reality'': A Distortion

I have no use for these types of promotions at all. You can tell that it never even occurred to the people who put these campaigns together that plus-size women can be beautiful -- let alone goddesses -- by some of the terms they use to refer to the ladies in the ads.

One term you hear a lot of, in this category, is:

"Average women."

I'm sorry, but I really don't care to see women my size are being relegated to the status of "average," with the obvious implication that thinner women are better than average.

I also don't like the idea that when full-figured women are represented, any old person will do; who cares if she's photogenic? But when thin women are represented, then it's important to find the most gorgeous women in the world who are that size.

It's like putting a team of experts against amateurs. The deck is stacked against us, so we lose.

At the very least, I would want to see the same high aesthetic standards used to find representatives of women my size as are used to find representatives of underweight women.
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Old 20th August 2005   #3
Kaitlynn
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Default Re: ''Reality'': A Distortion

I know what you mean. Another term that I can't stand in this kind of advertising is

"Ordinary women"- as in, "Now, we're showing ordinary women."

So thin women are represented by supermodels, and we only deserve to be represented by "ordinary" women? That's pretty insulting.

I don't want the models who are representing my figure type to the world to be "ordinary." I want someone who is extraordinary to be representing me, someone who is as extraordinary as possible, the same way that if I ever need a lawyer to represent me, I don't want an "average" or "ordinary" lawyer, but an extraordinary lawyer, the best there is, the one who will win my case for me.

And that's what plus-size models are really doing for us, aren't they? They're making the case for us- for all of us- to the world. And I don't want models representing me who make it seem as if thin women are prettier, just because the waif models are chosen for their beauty, and full-figured women in ads are not.
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Old 20th August 2005   #4
M. Lopez
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Default Re: ''Reality'': A Distortion

Let me chime in with just one more term from these promotions that I don't think does any good. When they claim to be representing "Everywoman".

Everywoman? It sounds so generic, like we're a dime a dozen! I'll take the idea of "goddess" over "everywoman", any day.

And hereís another analogy for this subject, along the lines of Kaitlynn's.

Letís say that there are two neighbouring cities. Let's call one "ThinTown" and the other "CurveTown". And let's say that, for the first time, they are both establishing symphony orchestras.

The people in ThinTown select the very best musicians in their city to be a part of their orchestra.

The people in CurveTown turn away their best musicians, and instead, choose "ordinary" or "average" players.

Which one do you think will perform a symphony better than the other?

And afterwards, no matter how much publicity the CurveTown orchestra gets, anybody who hears the two orchestras perform will conclude: "ThinTown is more musically talented than CurveTown."

But that's not the case. Itís just that ThinTown selected its best musicians, and CurveTown selected only "average" ones. If CurveTown had selected its best, it would have demonstrated that its orchestra could perform just as well - or better.
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Old 26th August 2005   #5
HSG
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Default Re: ''Reality'': A Distortion


These points are all extremely significant.

Let's keep in mind that the anorex-chic standard did not become entrenched because the fashion industry started filling ads and magazines with images of anyone off the street who was a size 0. Rather, the fashion elites cleverly selected girls with high cheekbones, long hair, and the inherent prettiness of youth--deliberately choosing models whose youthful facial features belied their shrivelled frames. And then, they embellished these waifs with all of the hairstyling and cosmetics arts at their disposal.

That's how the fashion industry brainwashed the public into finding emaciation attractive. And the result is the media world that we see all around us, every day.

Just as aesthetic selectiveness enshrined this false ideal, only aesthetic selectiveness in favour of plus-size beauty will overturn this ideal. Only timeless beauty can supersede the modern look.

Anything else will simply confirm public preconceptions and existing stereotypes. People who already find the fuller female figure attractive will continue to do so, and those who do not, will not be dissuaded from their opinion by these "reality" ads--not in the slightest.

In the end, the "reality" advertisers will simply make money from the people who were already in support of size acceptance . . . but nothing will have changed.

This is one of those difficult truths that many are unwilling or unable to accept. But, as hard as it may be to acknowledge, the fact of the matter is that "reality" advertising does nothing to convince the public that plus-size beauty is the true ideal of feminine beauty--and if anything, it may even impede such a realization, because the public will still associate "thin" with "ideal," and "plus" with "not ideal."

Only plus-size beauty can foster such an aesthetic restoration. Only goddesses can actually supplant the waifs.

Barbara Brickner at Lands' End, Fall 2005.


Last edited by HSG : 26th August 2005 at 19:07.
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Old 27th August 2005   #6
Chad
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Default Re: ''Reality'': A Distortion

If anyone needs evidence to show that the "average woman" approach canNOT overturn the anorexic standard, they need only look to Hollywood.

There have always been a host of full-figured female "character actresses" (who are the equivalent of the "reality" approach in advertising): Roseanne Barr, Camryn Manheim, Rosie O'Donnell, etc. etc. They have all attracted tons of publicity.

But how much impact has their presence made on Hollywood's casting of skinny romantic leading ladies?

None whatsover.

What Hollywood has never allowed is gorgeous, ingenue-age actresses who are full-figured. That's because while "character actresses" are no threat to the thin-centric standard, plus-size ingenues would be. Marilyn was borderline curvy, but not truly plus-size. Same for the even lovelier Kim Novak. And Anita Ekberg, who came closest of all, could only work in Italy once she became full-figured.

The "reality" trend will do no more to change the body type of models in high fashion than character actresses have done to change the image of beauty in Hollywood.

Only when there are more full-figured actresses and models who are as beautiful as Barbara Brickner (who can even look seductive in a casual shirt) or Anita Ekberg - that is, curvy and ideal - will either medium change.
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Old 27th August 2005   #7
BigTC
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Default Re: ''Reality'': A Distortion

You've brought up a good point about full figured actresses not being in romantic lead roles. The shallowness of Hollywood is one of the reasons why we have eating disorders in the first place.
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