Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Body image and the media

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  • Gareth Ward,

    So I guess that means models are normal too.

    I sometimes think the issue isn't really that the models are tall and thin (so long as they're healthy etc), more that "we" have decided the fashion model is meant to be some kind of sex object/desirable form.
    If tall and thin works to make the clothes look good (and yes, I'm resisting the "walking coathanger" gibe as it seems very unfair to the girls) then so be it - use what works. But why "making a particular dress hang right on a runway" is so heavily equated to the desirable body I'm not so sure...

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler,

    ..."we" have decided the fashion model is meant to be some kind of sex object/desirable form.

    But when we see models selected purely on grounds of sexual "desirability" (eg. "glamour" models and porn stars), they tend to look very unlike a walking coathanger. Not that I'm endorsing the way they do look...

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 856 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I sometimes think the issue isn't really that the models are tall and thin (so long as they're healthy etc), more that "we" have decided the fashion model is meant to be some kind of sex object/desirable form.

    I'm pretty sure the market decided that one. Sex sells, and fashion is about selling. I don't think the meme 'sex sells' was something that needed to be pushed, it's more one of those truisms, a discovery, rather than a choice.

    But what confuses me is that the traditional model is not sexy on a purely heterosexual male view of the matter - if they were, they'd probably look more like porn stars. Perhaps the reason for this is that the target audience is not heterosexual men, and porn stars are even more confronting to women than fashion models.

    My own view is that fashion models look like they are pubescent. Thinness and disproportionately long legs characterize this age. That these have become symbols of general sexiness says something about human drives, even if it's hard to speak of them openly. Basically most of us experienced our first sexual feelings around this age, and that fact is burned into our memories at a level deeper than conscious choice can control.

    I do not find 13 year old girls particularly sexy now, but a fully grown woman who reminds me of one in her look reminds me a great deal of my sexual youth. I don't know if they have the same effect on women (who are the targets of the advertising), but it's a possibility.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10504 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2703 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Beowulf as he appears in the film...

    Aaaand the actor who plays him as he actually looks...

    It cracked me up the moment he opened his mouth when I saw it...I instantly recognized the voice.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10504 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    I do not find 13 year old girls particularly sexy now, but a fully grown woman who reminds me of one in her look reminds me a great deal of my sexual youth.

    I do think it is really refreshing to read your take on that Ben.

    I don't know if they have the same effect on women (who are the targets of the advertising), but it's a possibility.

    I think youth is the eternal elixir for many (because it was easier??)and fashion and all most other advertising targeting women, does bear this in mind. I think clothes (fashion) reflects this also. I admit a little less sag, a little less bag and perfect tits is all I need :)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    There's only a puzzle if you think that women see fashion models as icons of sexiness. But what does sexual desirability of models have to do with women feeling they should emulate them as, you should pardon the term, models? That assumes that women only care about looking sexy, which I suggest is not necessarily the case.

    Models don't have to be demonstrably sexy to heterosexual men, they just have to be invested with prestige and glamour, and then they will still be sending messages to viewers about what they should look like.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3119 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    if aliens are tapping into our tv networks, they will assume the whole place is populated by clean-cut young 'uns with oddly smooth skin.

    Whhhaaaat ......ya mean those interstellar space ship with aliens thingies dont have a communications device (Im dizzy now) that can get "The Biggest Loser".

    Big Bang Theory is about the only current show I can think of where the geeks look like geeks.
    Beauty and the Geek.

    You obviously do not watch television at the correct time.
    Have you not heard of the "geekqualiser"

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1658 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Models don't have to be demonstrably sexy to heterosexual men, they just have to be invested with prestige and glamour, and then they will still be sending messages to viewers about what they should look like.

    Their original function was also to make the garments themselves look more attractive, and for that unusual proportions (legs far longer than the norm, for one thing) and narrow waist do help. Supposedly.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Supposedly.

    The traditional sewing pattern really only exists of 3 pieces. Top (dress upper and sleeve or shirt) and bottom (skirt or trouser). The excitement can occur when the adjustment or combination of these blocks are arranged in a way that the eye admires. Some of our best designers are men( jmo) on this planet and they are designing clothes for women. Sexy is in the eye of the beholder, so either wanting to emulate or not is just personal, and thus one can pick clothing according to personal choice, then choice could even help with depression or not, but saying it cant can be most confusing if one wants to feel sexy and thinks they have achieved it. Now confused? I like clothes, I like to look good in my clothes of choice purely for me. At the same time I think nudity can be true beauty. Eye of the beholder. Jus' sayin'

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    I know that being called fat really isn't such a bad thing at all, no matter how it's intentioned.

    Justement, Joanna. In going to the gym as much as I do, in the last 6 months, I have had to make sure that my core beliefs around body image, and my espousal of those beliefs, is something that I still adhere to. I still love my fat, but I am learning to love my muscle just as much.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    I still love my fat, but I am learning to love my muscle just as much.

    And noticeable. Definition of muscle feels strong too, which gives strength of mind I reckon. Cheers to your beautiful self Jackie :) ktink ch.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Peterlp,

    So I guess that means models are normal too.

    They can be surprisingly normal. Second from the left is a popular NZ model.

    It was odd to see a school girl in the local rag and instantly have "royally screwed by Kate Sylvester" pop into my mind.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2009 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    Really enjoying this thread. Any thread featuring the word 'pubes', on topic, without malice, is a win for liberation.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2126 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Even Kevin McCloud on Grand Designs just called wood sensuous. That is about as sexy an image one can imagine and he is talking about a building.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    Pecs like dinner plates, and gods forbid men should have body hair.

    I remember when Sean Connery was Bond and hairy chests were dead sexy. I also remember a quote from one of Connery's ex-wives who, while commenting on his infidelity, said something about the only thing he kept her around for was to shave his back before the shirt-off scenes.

    These days anyone on film who is classified as 'sexy' basically has no visible hair below nose-level - male or female.

    It can make the fuzzier amongst us a tad self-conscious at the pools.
    And I can point out that you'll never hear the phrase "I love a man with a hairy back, its soooo masculine" on the telly (except possibly in jest).

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 894 posts Report Reply

  • Tony Parker,

    Even Kevin McCloud on Grand Designs just called wood sensuous. That is about as sexy an image one can imagine and he is talking about a building.

    We have an addiction to Grand Designs in our house. McCleod is the ultimate presenter-knowledgeable, humourous, slightly cynical and according to some, thinking woman's crumpet.

    On the topic of men's chests. The sight of the Yellow Fever with their shirts off for the 3-0 win to the Phoenix on a 10 degree Wgtn night was not a pretty sight. And I'm not sure you'd call these men normal either.

    It is good to hear from other men with more than their share of body hair though. At my stage in life I now find the amount of hair on my head is inversely proportional to the amount on my head. How does that happen?

    Napier • Since Nov 2008 • 232 posts Report Reply

  • Joanna,

    Even Kevin McCloud on Grand Designs just called wood sensuous. That is about as sexy an image one can imagine and he is talking about a building.

    I would very much like to plough Kevin McCloud, although the spelling of his last name will have to change if we marry (it's H U B R I S after all...) I want to do him so he'll say something like "Traditionally a ripple here and those curves there would not be considered the classical look, but now I find that they are rather beautiful..."

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 746 posts Report Reply

  • Andre,

    In business magazine publishing it became accepted that readers prefer covers that feature real people that they can then read more about. But business people. No matter how pretty they are (officially). This was a change in perception that happened in the 90's along with the thought that you could sell more copies if that person was good looking.
    Business publishers started to use consumer publishing ideas. How many times have Sharon Hunter and Mark Ellis appeared on business magazine covers?

    New Zealand • Since May 2009 • 342 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Ashby,

    Those who complain TV geeks don't look like geeks suggest to me that you guys don't have The IT Crowd in NZ. For which you have my sympathy, it's very good.

    I too am a bit concerned about the UK thing of wanting women completely hairless. I want a woman, not a child and as far as I'm concerned pubic hair is sexy as. Provided its clean of course.

    Dundee, Scotland • Since May 2007 • 425 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Ashby,

    @Tony Parker

    Kevin McCloud has just finished a series over here in the UK on the Enlightenment Grand Tourists and the influences their 'discoveries' had on architecture and culture back home. It is fascinating telly as he shows you the bits that got essentially stolen in IP terms from bits of Rome, including a bijou cupola that got blown up into the dome of St Pauls in London.

    Our Kev is also engaging, revealing he speaks conversational Italian, falling off camp stools and happily revealing his vertigo when climbing inside the dome of the Duomo in Florence (a city everyone should see before they die). He is genuinely little boy enthusiastic about it all, nothing forced or stagy at all.

    If it turns up in NZ wack it on the TiVo for posterity.

    Dundee, Scotland • Since May 2007 • 425 posts Report Reply

  • Andre,

    A friend gave me the IT Crowd for my birthday and I still haven't watched it. My bad. thanks for the head-up I'll chuck it on...

    New Zealand • Since May 2009 • 342 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I'm still struggling with the medical profession's insistence on the amazing value of 'skin to skin' with my newborn. He never seems to appreciate being drowned in a forest of hair, although I suspect he would find stubble burn even worse. He does, however seem well content with his face firmly planted between a pair of breasts, grinning smugly at me. Enjoy it while you can, kid. They're only on loan.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10504 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    Our Kev is also engaging, revealing he speaks conversational Italian, falling off camp stools and happily revealing his vertigo when climbing inside the dome of the Duomo in Florence (a city everyone should see before they die). He is genuinely little boy enthusiastic about it all, nothing forced or stagy at all.

    If it turns up in NZ wack it on the TiVo for posterity.

    One of the best bits about Grand Designs is when they go to Foreign Places and Kevin can always hold a conversation (or at least make a game go) of the local language. His unbridled enthusiasm for the German and Scandinavian modes of building (efficient. Really efficient) is also a joy to behold.

    Grand Designs is actually the only TV programme I refuse to miss. My partner pretends not to like it, but somehow always manages to be in the room when it's on. I think he watches it to complain about how much money people are spending on taps, though.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Joanna,

    One of the best bits about Grand Designs is when they go to Foreign Places and Kevin can always hold a conversation (or at least make a game go) of the local language

    OH MI GOD that is the thing that makes him insanely hot despite all the reasons for him not to really be all that hot after all (like his obsession with taps). I think that's one reason why (typical) Brits will always be (stereotypically) so much hotter than Americans - their acknowledgement that other countries actually exist and their efforts to understand that company. Honestly, Kevin McLeod could sit there and recite the names of bylaws to me in a foreign language and I'd still be keen for him to ram my earth and bale my straw up high.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 746 posts Report Reply

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