Something I found pretty interesting today is the idea of the ‘modern woman.’ A sociologist, doing content analysis on women’s magazines found that women today are more sexually liberated, more confident, assertive and competitative – all traits more commonly associated with men. Yet we are still tied up with this idea that we need to embrace traditonal feminine qualities regarding our appearance. No matter how loose our tongues get when we discuss men and what we like to do to them, our mouths must still be coated in lipgloss. No matter how assertive we might be in the workplace, we should still be wearing fierce heels and tight, figure hugging outfits; look at any ‘workwear’ section in magazines or sold in online shops. Apparently we should be walking around in tight little pencil skirts, low cut jumpers or sheer blouses and high heels – and they are just the more conservative items.
I’m not sure where these kind of work dresses would be ok but my job would probably turn me straight round and send me home to change if I rocked up in a dress this low cut. Men can wear what they like to be respected – us on the other hand need to undo a few buttons and bend over for people to take notice.
Our hair should be long, our skin clear and smooth, our teeth white and straight. You know, so we look good smashing that glass ceiling and all. It pisses me off no end that we just can’t escape these ties – that no matter how hard we push and work, we are still confined to, and judged by, our appearance. We can be the smartest girl in the room but only the pretty girls matter, they are the ones people are hanging on to every word for. Look at Countdown – Both Carol and the new girl, Rachel, are ridiculously smart but do we think thats why they got the job? I’m thinking that the counting skills were second to the requirement that they look good in a skintight Herve Leger. Can you imagine a middle aged larger woman doing the job?
It happens everywhere. Our talents and skills are tacked on as afterthoughts. It’s what outside that counts. Forget this idea that inner beauty will shine through – bollocks. Does it matter that Aiden Chiles is getting on a bit and looks like a sausage stuffed into his suits? No. But Christine Bleakley has to spend hours in hair and make up and squeeze into the tightest dress they have just to be seen as equal to him. He is the charming, affable host with the knowledge and talent. And her? Well she is the talent – the phwoar factor. Big smiles to hide the fact that she earns less but has to do more.
The sociologist argued that magazines were like a new cult bible – women were taught how to please men, how to get a man, how to keep a man, how to dress for every situation, how to be a great host, how to please and impress every other bloody person but themselves. Diet tips, sex tips – all ways to be different, better. I really agree; I think that magazines subconciously feed us this ideal way to live our lives, show us the ideal way to look in certain clothes so that anything that deviates is considered bad and must be changed. Look at how we view our bodies; if we don’t look like Kate Moss in a dress then we must immediately rectify the situation by going on a diet and working out until we fit the mould. We even think that certain people don’t ‘suit’ outfits because we are so indocitrined into the idea that we must look a certain way and so anything else just wont do. I sometimes say to myself ‘oh I can’t wear that, i don’t look right.; To who exactly though? These invisible people in my head tell me what i can and can’t do and that has to come from somewhere. ‘Oh I can’t pull that off.’ ‘ It doesn’t suit me.’ ‘I’m the wrong shape.’ ‘I need to sort out my bingo wings, big tummy, thighs, bum.. before I can wear that sort of thing.’ Who the fuck decides and even more importantly why the fuck do we care and go along with it? It makes me so frustrated. This idea that only certain body types will do. It is so repressing, so damaging, so humilitating, so degrading, so worrying, so scary. It opens up a world of doubt, self loathing, fear of judgement. It makes my heart ache for what we’ve lost along the way.