Banter in the Garden
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Tea and Strumpets
Paula Joye is well known for her “fashion” “articles”, in which she likes to tell women everything that’s wrong with them, in the name of making them look better. This time, she’s excelled herself at pitching fashion as a “battle of the sexes“.
I don’t want to comment on the article, except to say that you can pry my leopard print from my cold, dead hands, bitch. But, as a service to you, I read the comments. Because they are brilliant.
First up, James, with my favourite internet comment ever:
Rule number 1: if she is tattooed up, she is not marriage material. Damaged/defaced goods.
+1 for tattoos. Also fake breasts, most especially when much exposed. Ditto fake tans and large fake eyelashes and too much makeup. You look like those Jersy Shore bimbos.
You forgot the cool word of the day “Misogyny” all the sheeple’s are using it
Saw a trainee checkout worker, size 24? With jeggings tight tee and a skimpy sheer short top just this week. The visual is still in my head.
Not good, and surely the employer should have a word.
I wish I say that to all the overweight women that like to wear them near where I live. Not a good thing to see. Shame they don’t want to dress to suit their figures. And no – black leggings aren’t slimming on those of us that are overweight (and yes I’m unfortunately one of them)
The worst enemies of women are (1) themselves, (2) other women and (3) women’s magazines. If you are genuine and confident, men don’t really care what you wear. Sure we don’t get animal print but hey, if you look great overall… we don’t care. Have a nice day ladies!
LOL – I was in hairdresser recently and commented to wife on how first 1/3 of these mags is all about losing weight & who is thin or lost weight, next 1/3 is about who is fat and gained pounds and last 1/3 is recipes with ads galore all way through for weight loss mixes, pills and other products like makeup & stuff to get rid of cellulite. WTF. How low does self esteem have to be to buy those trash mags ?
Fail – Add the thong hanging out above the jeans like a plumbers crack. Almost as bad as wearing a huge bra with a singlet. Its mens equal to wearing undies over pants.
The article isn’t all about you Phillip, or you personal tastes and preferences. Nor is it about your mates or most men you know either. It’s just the majority opinion from the author’s sample.The author isn’t telling women how to act, or even what to wear. She is just telling them which clothes don’t appeal to a lot of men.Women take decide for themselves if they want to take any notice or ignore the information.So take your quest for victimhood elsewhere.
(If I go on a quest for victimhood, what do I need to take? A sword, a dragon and a short skirt? No, leggings, right? They REALLY hate leggings.)
Clothes aren’t the issue, it’s who’s wearing them, guys or girls. Muffin tops, cauliflower thighs, camel toes and the trailer park or “heroin-chic” look are NEVER going to be in. Noting worse than seeing a size 16 crammed into a pair of leopard sheen-printed leggings. If you’re overweight, underweight, disproportionate, covered in scars or tatts, then wear clothes that won’t highlight the issue. Wear something that presents you well (as opposed to trying to look the bandwagon part by wearing the latest trend). That’s about it.
I would also add Tattoos. You know the little ones on the ankle, wrist, back of the neck – the ones women think make them so unique, oblivious to the fact that almost every girl/middle-aged woman in the office suddenly has one. And no, the little star you have tattooed behind your ear is not discreet or cool.
+1 on tattoo’s, no bigger turn off than a scrag tag.
Perhaps a cigarette hanging out of one side of the mouth goes close.
Men get labelled paternalistic misogynists if we voice an opinion on behalf of women.
No-one is suggesting we should return to the 1950s where you had your full pleated skirt, face and lipstick done before 7.30am as well as having cooked your husband a three course breakfast, but I do think getting dressed and ready for the breakfast shift would be a pleasant thing to do for the family, if not for yourself. Keeping your pyjamas not only out of public view, but firmly in the bedroom would probably be nicer for everyone.
Because, don’t forget ladies, everything you do, you should do for your family. Never mind that you don’t feel like getting dressed/have been vomited on a lot/have not slept at all. Looking nice for your family is your job and don’t you forget it.
Actually, don’t forget, as women, it’s our job to look nice/presentable/fuckable, everywhere we go. The comments on this issue, despite the Herald using a picture of Jeff Bridges, seem to be largely aimed at women. Because it’s women who are slobs, lazy, disgusting, if they haven’t dressed up to go to the supermarket.
When I was in the throes of depression, there were days when getting up and getting dressed seemed like the hardest thing in the world. Where showering was close to impossible. And I am lucky enough that those days were rare. For many people, they aren’t. And throwing your coat on over your pyjamas to walk to the dairy to get milk is completely acceptable.
And of course, there’s a class/race issue here – lazy people, who can swan around in their pyjamas during the day must be poor. Therefore, they’re undesirable. To anonymous Herald commenters, at least: “Tacky, lazy – very much like the personalities of those layabouts that can’t be bothered getting dressed like the rest of society.” Oh, and of course, they smell.
But mostly, here’s the thing, Gisborne. IT’S NOT ANY OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS WHAT SOMEONE ELSE IS WEARING. It’s not a matter of it being “nicer for everyone.” It’s not your business. Are these people clothed? Yes. Are they wearing offensive slogans, bedazzled, or God forbid, a really short skirt. It doesn’t seem so. Are they behaving in some way badly other than wearing something “society” has deemed is only “for the bedroom*”? Not as far as any of the reporting I have seen. As has been discussed on this website before, you can’t tell anything about a person by what they are wearing. Not whether they’re a slob, are depressed, can’t buy clothes, need to do washing, or just really like their comfortable flannel jammies. And by judging them, you say more about yourself than you do about them.
* And I bet you can guess my views on where society can go with what else it thinks belongs in the bedroom.
Ok, Let’s do this thing. But first, a couple of disclaimers.
Since I signed up to Tumblr (NSFW, but you knew that) a couple of months ago, one of the things I have found myself constantly re-blogging is images of beautiful, sexy, fat women. Wandering round town the other day, I asked myself why I do that. Is it the equivalent of the poster of Johnny Depp I had hanging on my adolescent bedroom wall? Am I attracted to these women? Well, yes, but that’s not it.
But mostly? It’s because I like seeing women like myself, Women of Size, portrayed as beautiful, as sexy, as desirable. It’s something I am not used to seeing. I don’t buy glossy magazines anymore, but back when I did, the women in them looked so different to me as to be from a different species.
Don’t get me wrong. On a good day, I rock my tits and my red lipstick and my Tool of The Patriarchy heels, and my cute dresses. I’m buying into the Beauty Myth as much as anyone. And much as it causes me pause to hold up Gala Darling as a feminist icon, I choose my choice. My life is easier when I get my tits out, if only because it makes me feel better, and deflects some of this stuff.
So, those images on Tumblr, the sexy plus-sized lingerie, the burlesque, the corsets and leopard print and stacked heels, remind me that yes, I am a human being like everyone else, and seeing my reflection in other people is possible.
But see, wouldn’t it be nice if I didn’t have to go hunting for it. If FuckYeahfatGirls (I dunno, I am guessing there is one) wasn’t a dark corner of the internet, but just..how we lived. If our representations of women weren’t dominated by the fashion industry juggernaut, and instead were just representations of women. If Vogue didn’t have to be congratulated for it’s Plus Size issue, but just featured clothing for women of all sizes as a matter of course? If there wasn’t this false dichotomy between “models” and “real women”. If we weren’t taught that being The Prettiest Of Them All is the most important thing.
Seeing representations of ourselves in the world is important. It’s how we know we’re valued, and at the same time, just the same as everyone else. This obviously doesn’t just apply to fat women, but men, and people of colour and LGBT people, and redheads.
Am I naive? Of course? Would we all be much better of if this was the world we lived in? If everyone who isn’t tall and thin and blonde and white wasn’t erased from the public discourse? I think so. So, darlings, what can we do about it?
Oh noes! You guys! In the US there are reporters getting all sexy up in their Twitter profile pictures, and it’s causing a stir.
News organizations will have to decide whether having star reporters making silly faces on camera, posing artistically, or wearing skin-bearing [sic] dresses is congruent with their brand image.
More often, women have to fight to be taken seriously,” he said. “I think it’s unfair that women are judged on this. But my concern is, are they doing anything to undermine their credibility?
Not only are those two paragraphs in the same story, they are said by the SAME PERSON. A dude, of course. You have to wonder how these women don’t get the Exact Right Image when a so-called expert is body-snarking one second and then decrying the culture around that the next.
Here is one of the profiles in question. Does she look a little bit goofy? Yes. Does she look like she has maybe been on a campaign media bus for several hours, filing from her seat, drinking bad coffee and eating snacks that bear no resemblance to actual food? Yes. Does it matter at all what she looks like, providing she’s not actually naked or drunk or posing with Rick Santorum?
In fact, does women’s credibility rely on how they dress/pluck their eyebrows/”bear” their skin? Posing artistically? OH THE HUMANITY! We know, that, yes actually, of course it does. Never mind dressing professionally or appropriately, women need to be – especially if they are on TV – the perfect blend of attractive/sexy/bangable/fashionable and also buttoned-up/chaste/demure. But attractive is paramount, because we know no one wants to listen to a woman talk, unless she’s fuckable. I mean, it’s not like she could possibly know what she’s talking about.
Seriously, there are, like, really important issues to be discussed in this campaign. Who the hell cares what a reporter’s Twitter picture is?
(Huh. I guess it wasn’t that quick. Never is with me, really.)
Thank you, Stuff, for another piece of enlightening journalism. This time it’s not parents trying to force patient-client confidentiality out the window in their children’s reproductive health, instead it’s a look at What Men Love About Fashion.
Except it’s not, actually. It’s not asking male commenters for their favourite places to purchase jeans, or how men can keep stylish and warm in the winter months. It’s actually a piece of thinly-veiled body policing aimed at making yet another ‘kiwi women need to dress better’ jab.
Fashion PR consultant Paul Bloomfield says “Perhaps women believe black is slimming or they’re influenced by the All Black’s jersey but whatever the reason, black is a default mechanism. It’s time women got out of black. It’s all about colour for me.”
The piece, clearly looking forward to the usual sparkling comments on Stuff articles, then asks commenters: “So what do men think of the way Kiwi women dress? Tell us about the outfit in your partner’s wardrobe that you love – or the piece of clothing you would throw out if you could.”
The comments, as always, are both progressive and heartening:
• Clothes don’t maketh the woman.. its her measurements underneath that count..
• i think most women get it wrong in nz, especially the ones in their 20’s. their idea of fashion is wearing low cut tops, short cocktail dresses and stiletto’s.. it looks so tacky and desperate, but equally ‘thick’ men lap it up. i respect a girl who can put an outfit together with modesty in mind, and look a million dollars without having to look like some quasi-street-worker. subtlety is key.
• omg guys it’s fashion! Either don’t give a toss or hand in your Man Card. There can be no middle ground.
As far as I’m concerned this is just another reflection of what I like to call ‘gift culture’. Women and girls are told that we need to present ourselves in certain ways in order to be desirable to men who receive us. Our sexualities and sexual experiences (or ideally lack thereof) are presented as gifts, waiting to be taken.
Our bodies, clothes, personalities and demeanours must be as inoffensive to men as possible while accentuating our ‘desirable’ features and hiding those ‘imperfections’. We must be both alluring and meek, liberated and modest. One commenter hit the nail on the head with: “… the only thing I like about fashion is taking it off, It’s like unwrapping a present, I figure it adds to the enjoyment.”
When I talk about gift culture I often get a ‘Oh but it’s not as bad as it used to be’ response. Which is frankly bullshit. It might not be as obvious as it used to be, but it’s actually gotten worse. Now women have to contend with the mixed messaging of being liberated but not ‘too liberated’, confident but not ‘too confident’.
A recent study by a PHD student from the University of Queensland employed a 6 month subscription of Cleo and Cosmopolitan magazines to analyse the messaging given to readers as young as 13*. The overwhelming conclusion was that all aspects of the magazine were covertly framed as ways to ignite (or keep) male interest. Even the fashion sections are ‘How to look like girlfriend material’ / ‘What men think women look the best in’ etc.
I realise for some readers this will be a “Yeah duh, I haven’t read Cosmo in xx years and Stuff is almost always problematic”, but I still don’t think this sort of analysis has gained enough awareness. So basically I am never going to stop talking about it, sorry. And although we would all like to think that the worst Stuff commenters are a vocal minority of uninformed trolls, the points being made in this article are sentiments most women have been hearing ever since our parents first dressed us.
When Stuff frame this article as ‘men love you in these kinds of clothes’, they are actually permeating gift culture in the cuddliest way possible. When they include an analysis of what women shouldn’t be wearing, they are body policing. And when they allow the comments to devolve into slut-shaming vs creeps maintaining their boners, they are exposing ever-present and all-permeating harmful attitudes toward women and their freedom of expression. Not to mention how overtly misogynistic, heteronormative and homophobic half of the comments are.
Thank God for commenter ‘Cynical’ who sums up my response entirely:
“Oh thank goodness – if I didn’t know how men would want me to dress, I’m not sure I’d make it out the door. Thank you, Stuff, for your enlightening, forward thinking journalism.”
*Family Planning Conference 2010