Saturday, May 8, 2010

Gertie, Girl Reporter {05.08.10}

Happy Saturday, folks! How about a little reading with your morning coffee? (Yes, I'm pretty much just rolling out of bed.) So many good articles this week!

  • Have you ladies and gents heard of Hollaback? It started as an NYC-based blog where women and LGBT folks can post pictures of their street harassers. Now they're launching a worldwide website and an iPhone app to report harassers. I will definitely be downloading this when it becomes available at the end of June and contributing financially to the new Hollaback. As the weather gets warmer here, harassers on the street get bolder - and every dude I pass seems to have something to say about my appearance. I'm sick of it! Of course, there's a line between verbal harassment and actual assault, which makes these jerks very hard to prosecute. Even actual physical assault usually goes unpunished - so hollaback, people! Check out the video above. (via Jezebel) (Also: I see a post on this issue and how it relates to vintage dressing in my very near future.)
  • Another article that will have a dedicated post here: Beyonce, Sade, retro, and race.
  • As you might have heard, the Met and Brooklyn Museum opened two high-profile fashion exhibits this week, heralded in by the posh Met Costume Institute Ball. This blogger's thoughtful review is definitely worth a read. Also: I will SO be high-tailing it down to Brooklyn in one of the coming weekends!
  • Huge difference between the way American Glamour and French Glamour look at plus size women.
  • I love Simon Doonan. That is all.
  • NYT's Style section looked at vintage shopping this week.
  • They also wrote about the "video haul" wherein shoppers display their purchases on YouTube - sounds like lots of Ugg boots and pricey mascara. I find this distasteful.
  • Shorts: as polarizing as jumpsuits?
  • Lovely article on the art of Rodarte.
  • A very trippy vintage Maidenform ad.
  • I want to like everything that Christina Hendricks wears. But what the heck was this?
  • A look back on Betty Friedan's effect on feminism that I admit I was too time-crunched to read. Let me know how it is!
  • Cook's Illustrated: the last sign of civilization? Great cooking mag, by the way.
  • Male mannequins get super skinny! Yikes.
  • I liked this post on the myth of fat acceptance in black communities.
  • Londoners: please go to the Grace Kelly exhibit and report back!
  • Did you guys see this massively Photoshopped Sex and the City poster? Also: I am so over these women. Make it go away.


  1. Re the Friedan piece: The author does a decent, if necessarily cursory, job at defending Friedan against claims that she was responsible for the fact that studies now rate women as less happy than they were pre-Friedan. In particular, she delineates the difference between feminism as a movement for social change, which has improved women's lives, and notions of personal empowerment as the be-all and end-all of "women's lib." The latter transmogrified into Sex In The City and the quest for personal fulfillment via "having it all," whereas the former seeks to transform society so that women have genuine choices about how to lead their lives without the shackles of patriarchy and as fully human beings.
    I'm a feminist studies PhD student, and I think that it is important for students in my field to read Friedan and Steinem, not just because they were galvanizing figures for certain sectors of feminism, but so that my students know what the media was responding to when feminism blipped onto its radar in the 1960s. Understanding feminist history is about studying reactions to/against feminism as well as studying feminist thought. In that regard, this article is a useful reminder that much social perception of feminism does not come from thoughtful consideration of feminism's impact but from hearing critiques and criticisms of feminists like Friedan.

  2. Oh Gertie, did you have to post the link to the skinny male models? So disturbing, I'm going to have very strange dreams tonight. How do they exist? On a raisin and a thimble of tea?! Boy, the human condition never ceases to amaze me but there's nothing sexy about anorexia. It'll be nice when the pendulum swings away from this hyper skinnyness.

  3. My husband looks like those mannequins, but with much broader shoulders. He's 5' 8" and 125 lbs. I find him very sexy. However, I have found all my significant others sexy, and they have been all shapes and sizes.

    And he's certainly not anorexic. We eat a ton of food. So although I do believe that having very skinny models and mannequins can be detrimental to people's body image so can people who call such skinny people "disturbing", "strange", and "anorexic".

    In the same thread, being a thin gal myself, coming from a "fluffy" family, unless your comment about my body is uplifting it doesn't make me feel better about myself. Things like, "Your sisters are going to hate you," (My mother told me this after I lost all my pregnancy weight plus some) to, "OMG, I hate you, you're so skinny," to, "Just wait until after your first (second, third, etc.) kid," all hurt.

    I know everyone is entitled to their opinion, but if people were to talk about "fluffy" people this way on this blog they would be enlightened on the matter. Which I guess I'm doing now.

    Let's love all body types, okay?

  4. Sorry, one more thought.

    When people ask to see more "normal" body types, it makes those on the fringes (very skinny, very plump) feel as though people view them as not normal. How about the word average? I think that has less emotional charge.

  5. Man the hollaback thing scared me!
    I'm coming to live in NY in August...

  6. The Sade video keeps haunting me. Thank you for posting it.

  7. I am a Londoner and will be going to visit the Grace Kelly exhibit very soon.

    I bought this book at the Southbank today, but it's available on Amazon ( Sew and Save by Joanna Chase, which has a great deal of UK Wartime information about making both your own clothes and patterns - it was written in 1941 but I would imagine is still relevant for slightly later vintage clothes.

  8. First of all the models in the photo aren't real so disturbing, you bet - downrite creepy even. A little tongue in cheek about the food here ok? The article mentions the rate of male anorexia is rising, what's good about that? I don't care if you're teeny tiny or a lot to love. The human body is by nature beautiful and putting oneself in ill health or even death for some ideal is just awful.

  9. Firstly, I have lots of feelings about the Beyonce video, which I think I will keep to myself. The Sade video is sort of similar to another video the group has, so I mostly focused on that aspect of it when watching it.

    Secondly, I would be so down for a Brooklyn met up to see this exhibit. I do not know anyone (except maybe my oldest daughter) who would really enjoy seeing it with me.

    Lastly, when I saw CH in that dress I immediately thought of you and how disappointed you would be, lol

  10. RE: the male mannequins - I think that there are actually some benefits to having a variety of shapes like that in order to display clothes. Reading the comments about how body pressure has "suddenly spread to men too" made me sad - are we so fixated on our own body culture that we forget the intense pressure on men to be tall enough, broad shouldered enough, buff enough? Those skinny mannequins are of a type normally reviled by society - the "weedy" guy - and actually present a body shape more achievable for many teenage boys than the physique of a body builder or footballer (and if I read it correctly, the article did mention that the mannequins were intended for the 'youth' departments). Either extreme, of course, is not ideal - men should not have to become anorexic or spend hours in the gym (or even take steroids). However, I do think that women need to stop and think for a moment about whether comments like "I prefer a manly guy" are actually as beneficial to the self esteem of men as they think they are.

  11. Lots of great articles Gertie!

    I'm partial to skinny fellas myself, so I wouldn't call these new mannequins 'yikes'- they look like half the guys I've dated, not to mention my now-and-forever squeeze! It bears pointing out that being lean is generally more a male trait than a female one. These skinny male mannequins seem to me to be far less unrealistic than the skinny female mannequins we've had for ages. And young men-especially teenagers- frequently get taller first, and are all knees and elbows for even a few years before then filling out more as they get older- these mannequins are being used at stores that have a younger clientel who come by their slenderness naturally. I'm not terrifically concerned that they're going to inspire the mass of men to eating disorders. Hopefully it might even give young guys who aren't footballer-beefcake types a bit of confidence in their own look.

  12. Hi Gertie
    I'm a Londoner and posted a mini report on the Grace Kelly exhibition (and the V&A's quilt exhibition) here:

  13. My fiance regularly reads this blog and pointed out this particular entry to me with respect to the whole "skinny male" bashing thread. After reading it, I feel compelled to respond and provide what appears to be a perspective that is somewhat lacking: that of one of the persecuted skinny males.

    As a young adult at school, I was typically one of the tall/weedy/skinny kids, with "tall" being relative - 5'10" at age 13-15 makes you one of the taller kids at school. Sadly, I'm still 5'10" some 25 years later. I also weigh the same that I did back when I was 17 - about 147lb. That, however, has not always been the case.

    I moved to the USA when I was 25 and skinny. Several years later after following the American diet of huge meals and lack of exercise, I'd managed to let myself slide to what to me was a large-ish 180+ lb before some form of self-preservation instinct kicked in. I should note that while I was a teenager I participated in sports ranging from martial arts through tennis, squash, cycling, and swimming to water skiing. In other words, I was extremely active.

    During my so-called "fat" years nobody, and I mean *nobody* (including family members), said that I looked fat, unhealthy, out-of-shape or anything like that even when compared to my prior skinny physique.

    Over the next year I managed to lose all of the weight I had gained and got myself down to about 150lb by a combination of regulating what I ate (not dieting per se, but rather just restricting myself to portion sizes that the rest of the world would deem normal) and exercising in the form of cardio and weight training.

    At that point I got bitten by the need to appear like those "buff" male model stereotypical images with six-pack abs, large chests and bulging biceps in response to constant criticism of being "too skinny". And thus began my gym addiction - 5-6 times/week lifting weights, taking supplements and being in a constant state of pain.

    The last point is important - over the next 5-7 years I injured myself almost weekly, in particular my rotator cuffs, trapezius and rhomboids, and suffered from nerve impingements as a result of attempting to maintain a body image that many women deemed to be attractive, and required me to maintain in excess of 10lb of muscle mass that my body just didn't want.

    Once again nobody criticized my appearance - in fact many people suggested that I had a fantastic physique and would like to appear that way themselves.

    At some point the constant discomfort I was in took priority over the desire to appease the sensibilities of others, and I stopped going to the gym but continued exercising - running, swimming and riding my bicycle. Strangely enough, my shoulder pain and nerve impingements subsided and completely disappeared. However, I also lost about 12-15lb of pure muscle mass (my body fat percentage remained constant), and I am now at about 147lb once more.

    But a very "strange" thing has happened: I now get comments all the time about how skinny I am, that I should "eat something to put some meat on your bones, dammit", that I am borderline anorexic (not even close), and that I look like I am "wasting away".

    I eat approximately 3000 - 3500 calories per day. More after hard exercise, less if I've been inactive. I essentially let my hunger dictate what I eat.

    In other words, my body likes to be naturally skinny. It is my healthy, natural weight and yet people feel compelled to point out that they think I look unhealthy now.

    However, when presented with my previous physiques of "fat and out-of-shape" and "overly muscular and stereotyped", nobody thought that was bad.

    So all of this is a long-winded way of saying "lay off the skinny person bashing". We're just as sensitive to being ridiculed, taunted, and being made fun of as fat people are.

  14. Hm. It's interesting to me that of all the links I posted the skinny male mannequins one is getting the attention. I have to admit, I didn't find it to be the most compelling article of the week and I even thought about not linking to it. To me, it was simply an indicator of the increasingly surreal silhouette that fashion promotes . . . as Tim Gunn recently said, "What happens next, it's going to be an eight-year-old you put on stilts?" To me, that does indeed mean yikes. And anyway, the article I linked to talks about eating disorders in men as a real problem. So I don't think anyone is discounting the issue of body image in men. If anything, I think it's getting quite a bit of attention, especially on two womens focus blogs. If you see yourself as a "persecuted" regular skinny guy, then indeed the leaner mannequins could be a good thing. But if you're a male model in the fashion industry who is now held accountable to the same unhealthful weight standards that women are, I think you'd have a problem with this. And I don't think it's going to end anywhere good for the fashion industry, which is what the focus of the article was.

    sownbrooklyn: yes please to a Brooklyn meet-up! I'll post something about this soon.

  15. And thanks to thatgrrl and Tilly for reports from the field. You ladies rock!


Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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