Thursday, March 15, 2012

Marie Claire

At first I didn't know what to think.  I saw the November issue of Marie Claire magazine on a friend’s coffee table.  She happens to be from Capetown, South African, and likes to get the version from her home country.  I mostly hate magazines aimed at women, because I think most media does our body image (among other things) a disservice.

Across the cover in screaming letters were the words  "What would it take to love your body?"  Okay good start.  A great question and one that needs addressing by most women.

But the woman on the cover was a Victoria's Secret model  (wearing a ridiculously-exposing black swimsuit, on a body that was surely photoshopped). Juxtaposition? I'd say so.

I picked up the issue ready to scoff and make fun, but found some really great ads admiring all shapes and sizes of the female body. There is a yummy curvy voluptuous woman of color with copy that reads "You wish you had Stephanie's skin, and Stephanie wishes she had Tasj's boobs, and Tasj wishes she had Kassie's legs" And then it ends with “Love what you are.”
There is a Barbie that had all sorts of dotted lines and arrows to editing comments like "add crows feet" "add freckles" "inject cellulite" "scar from climbing in back yard" implying that this was how to make Barbie into a real woman.  As if!

Barbie is the least likely to be a real woman of all the plastic icons that are out there, but I appreciated the effort to create the Doll into a real woman. The irony of the norm of being asked to create myself as Barbie, with Barbie being created as me to promote self love was not lost.

Another ad has rectangular black strips over various parts of a woman's body with a caption that reads, "What if you took away all the parts of yourself you don't like.  What would be left?"  There is only about a fifth of the body is uncovered.

Finally, the profile of a woman in a morgue with a sheet coming to her collarbones is striking in its simplicity.  And the copy reads "When will you stop worrying about your looks?"

My immediate response to this is to reply when others stop placing importance on them.  But I know that what is being promoted is the idea that women's greatest fear is mortality, because it implies we are no longer young and beautiful.  And therefore still of social worth.   Is this just an American phenomenon?  Why can't American women claim the sense of individuality that we are known for?

 The caption is meant to teach us that we should stop placing energy and value on our looks, and go live our lives.

Good advice.  See ya.