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bruce lee, supermodels and the new september vogue cover
it's not problematic, it's just not that contemporary.
the current media landscape yearns for inclusivity and reality although it is not ready for it. the zeitgeist is all about the aesthetics of natural, effortless, perfectly imperfect.
in this sense, the last september vogue cover does not seem contemporary. a group of adored and iconic supermodels in their fifties crystallised into all-too-perfect barbie dolls, all emotions and nuances erased.
we really need to ask ourselves how come we do not allow our icons to change. how come we are keeping them hostage of 90s editorials? are these images still celebrating something? or are we using these images to collectively exorcise the terror of existing as humans in the face of passing time?
now more than ever we want to see women ageing –the problem is that ageing is yet another thing that women need to be good at.
you are supposed to do something about ageing –but not too much. do too little and you let yourself go. do too much and you are being silly. you need to do the bare minimum, a compound of effortless efforts, invisible to the untrained eye, persistent and recurring beauty labour that allows you to be seen in the public eye as a beautiful woman. it’s exhausting, and it’s labour required from women of all ages by our society.
there is this great scene in ‘enter the dragon’ where bruce lee is trying to hit his enemy in a room full of mirrors. his image is reflected dozens of times all across the room and it mesmerises bruce lee–who keeps hitting the mirrored images instead of his enemy. he finally manages to hit the enemy by destroying all the mirrors and making all the misleading images disappear all at once.
i am wondering if this could not be the right time for the people in the fashion industry to start a conversation about this big mirror room we have created for ourselves and our supermodels. is there a way to allow our fashion icons to exist outside of these glossy mirrors as themselves? is there room to embrace not only our changing bodies but also our changing desires and personas as women in public as time naturally passes? is life really unbearable outside of this plastic world? it just seems like life in there is apparently not so fantastic after all1.
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Barbie Girl, Aqua (1997)