Notes from the Frontline

My friend DINA sent this to me a while back: AIRBRUSHING

Once you get to the page, click on the link at the top that says portfolio, then on the photos that come up. If you run the mouse over them once you’ve clicked on a photo, you’ll get the “before airbrushing” photo. The differences are pretty interesting.

It’s no secret that I’m fascinated by the business of beauty and what constitutes beautiful. What fascinates me most is how arbitrary it is: that society’s opinion about what is attractive and what isn’t changes all the time. Not only does it change from century to century, but it changes every decade as well.

Someone in my office mentioned the classic Robert Palmer girl in a conversation and another girl had no idea what we were talking about. So I pulled up the videos on youtube and showed her. It’s funny to me when I realize how different my cultural vocabulary has become from what the average 25 year old uses for reference. I realized it one day when someone was playing a mash-up (a heinous trend) that included “Dust in the Wind”. The girl sitting next to me said, “Isn’t this new song the saddest, most beautiful thing you’ve ever heard?” I was like, “Girl, it’s Dust in the Wind, corn-pone once only slightly less overplayed at high school dances than Stairway to Heaven.” And she replied, “What’s Stairway to Heaven?”.

So as we watched the video we marveled at how gorgeous the girls looked, and since the 80’s are continually being mined for every trend the dresses didn’t seem so bad either. But the women look remarkably different than models look in 2007. There’s a breadth and power in their bodies that’s missing right now on the runways. It seems like I’m constantly around models lately, and I can tell you that they’re far skinnier than even 10 years ago. It’s stunning how frail they are. Cindy Crawford could break one of these girls over her knee.

At first it made me feel gigantic and shitty, now I’m sort of enjoying being a totally different creature. I’ll never be as young and pretty again as they are, but once I got over that insecurity I realized I’ve always been more interested in being sexy rather than fashionable anyway. I like my own physical power.

I’m also a little disturbed that everyone is saying how incredibly fat Britney Spears appeared in her disastrous MTV Awards appearance. Comatose, messy, poorly dressed with bad extensions, yes, but I didn’t think she looked that fat. She just didn’t look incredibly skinny, which I suppose is the same thing as fat at this point in time. I do love the reports that she showed up hours late for that day’s rehearsal with a plastic cup in her hand containing a margarita. Ha! Then she refused to wear the corseted costume picked out for her, fired her hairdresser, and took a percocet before hitting the stage. Go Britney in your cheap bra and panties!

The face that is fashionable right now on the runways is a sort of round, wide-eyed doll-face, reminiscent of the kewpie doll face of beauty that was so prevalent in the 20’s and 30’s, much different than the 80’s or 90’s stronger, heavier browed, wider-mouthed visage. I’m too lazy to search out images for you but if you go to style.com and check out some of the shows you’ll see what I’m talking about. Everything becomes more and more pre-pubescent (except for the fake boobs) as our culture caves in on itself. Is it any wonder that every woman you see in Playboy right now is completely devoid of pubic hair? When you stop comparing yourself to images and look at them from a more objective point of view, things start looking pretty silly, more like a sociological experiment than anything we should take that seriously.

The interesting thing to me about the airbrushed photos is that I actually like some of the befores better. Like Cate Blanchett looks cool and sort of tough in hers, then after the work she just looks ordinarily pretty. I think about a perfect album cover like Patti Smith’s Easter and wonder what would happen if someone tried to put that out today. Maybe it would fly, since she is pretty damn skinny…


Oh wait… there’s no such thing as album covers anymore. Sigh…

Anyway, you get what I’m saying, which is nothing new or groundbreaking. I just like to file a report once in a while since I’ve got a front row seat much of the time. I suggest everyone get a plate of pasta and watch this still fabulous video one more time.


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