I started wondering about this recently, when I learned from the Guardian that Louboutin shoes are now being made in a wide variety of nude tones – nude no longer being exclusively “white” but a range going from pale beige to rich chocolate brown. The reality is this: not everyone is white and pale and it would appear that finally the fashion industry is starting to pick up on this.
As every woman likes a bit of makeup, regardless of the colour of her skin, so more and more brands are adding dark skin products to their ranges. According to McCann Global Research, mixed race is the fastest growing minority in the UK, so it makes a lot of financial sense to make products for ethnic people. Obviously they’re not doing it for the kindness of their hearts. Nonetheless, it is good to see that some things are changing. (See an article at Madame Noire about the major cosmetic brands catering to dark skinned ladies here). This reminds me when I was doing my teaching course and working with children of African origin, the girls never drew princesses and other characters in their own skin colour, only white. I think this says a lot about what is transmitted to children about beauty patterns by the media.
Along with racism, ageism is also another form of discrimination in the fashion industry. Fortunately, there are more and more voices being raised against it in the world – and mostly thanks to bloggers, as they can’t be censored by fashion magazines and produce their own content to be read by like minded people, shunning magazines and their trends altogether. Slowly, the rest of the world seems to be waking up to this reality, as more and more women are rebelling against what they are told they should be dressing like after a certain age. Signs of this are the popularity of the Advanced Style blog, which has spawned not only a photography but also a colouring book, the Fabulous Fashionistas documentary recently produced by Channel 4 as well as a wave of opinion articles being posted all over the world in mainstream publications such as the New York Times.
And of course, last but not least, the discrimination against larger people. Again, there are a lot of blogs made by and for plus sized women. Laura Puddy, whom I’ve met at the Duo Boots event in London, writes a column for Cosmopolitan Magazine for plus sized ladies and that shows that finally mainstream magazines are starting to feel like they have to cater to people of all sizes and shapes.
There is still a lot to be done in all these fronts: quite often we hear about models being turned down because “they already hired one black model” (I read about this recently but I can’t locate the source, unfortunately). Older ladies who dress freely are also frequently called names such as harridan, bag lady, attention seeking or even crazy: check out this particular article in the Telegraph on eccentric ladies featuring some real gems of idiocy in the comments section. It was also recently proven by Karl Lagerfeld that just because you have impeccable taste, doesn’t mean you can’t be an idiot – he was sued for affirming “No one wants to see curvy women on the catwalk”. There is a long way to go, no doubt, but I am sure that the baby steps that have been taken so far are the foundations of a better future. We have to thank in great part the internet and the amazing people that produce great content every day on it, which means we no longer have to be subjected to the tyranny of clothes brands or fashion magazines.
I personally feel happier about my style at 36 than I ever did before and really don’t like anyone telling me what I can or cannot wear or that I’m too old for this or that. I’ll probably be part of the harridans or bag ladies when I’m old but who cares? I know I won’t, as long as clothes still make me happy!
Have you got a cat? Or has a cat got you?
It’s the eternal question when it comes to these slinky, enigmatic heartbreakers, and opinion is divided. Some people love them to distraction, choosing extra special toys and comfy cushions for them and driving for miles to pick up their favourite food, while other people hate them so irrationally that they’ll resort to torture… A friend of mine actually bought a tiny toothbrush for his cat so he could personally brush its snaggly teeth, and constantly carries one of its whiskers around in his wallet as a sign of his affection. He is a slave to that animal, and cheerfully admits it.
Few people are indifferent. But why? What is the secret pull of these furry little tyrants, and why do we feel the insurmountable need to do their despotic feline bidding? Is it all the time they spend around cauldrons and perching on broomsticks that gives them the ability to twist us round their furry paws, or are we all just a sucker for a cute face and a sob story?
Unlike dogs, there is certainly no loyalty there – I regularly used to feed a ginger and white cat that would come and sit on my fire escape, pretending to be homeless, but over time I spotted the same feckless wretch lying around on a variety of comfy cushions on a number of sunny windowsills in my neighbourhood. So are we just being taken in? For those of you who would say an unequivocal “Yes!”, here are the given traits of a sociopath, which could to some minds also be spelled C A T…
- Glib and superficial ( YOU are my very best friend….)
- Egocentric and grandiose (Right now, you are beneath my contempt..)
- Lack of remorse or guilt (Who, ME?)
- Lack of empathy (You are a mouse, and therefore I will torture you..)
- Deceitful and manipulative (I haven’t been fed for a WEEK..)
- Shallow emotions (You know I didn’t MEAN it…)
- Impulsive (STRING! STRING! )
- Poor behavior controls (STRING!)
- Need for excitement (BORED with string…)
- Lack of responsibility (It’s YOUR fault that I’m bored with string…)
- Early behavior problems (Climbing up my curtains, climbing up my stockings)
- Adult antisocial behavior (Staying out all night, getting battered on catnip, having sex with strangers in public places …)
Sociopaths are often witty and articulate. They can be amusing and entertaining conversationalists, ready with a quick and clever comeback, and can tell unlikely but convincing stories that cast themselves in a good light. They can be very effective in presenting themselves well and are often very likeable and charming.
Sound like a cat you know?
Joking apart, and in the interests of fairness, let’s go a little deeper… This compulsive love/hate relationship with cats obviously started SOMEWHERE, so excuse me while I move the cat off my knee, and look into my crystal ball to see what History can tell us…
Across the world, in the really ancient cultures, felines and the feminine force were inextricably linked. To the ancient Egyptians, cats were sacred, and worshipped through Bastet, the female cat goddess. Shasti, the Hindu goddess of fertility and birth, is depicted riding a tiger or a cat, and in Pre-Christian Norse mythology the Goddess Freya rides a chariot drawn by two white cats. Rural people would leave out saucers of milk for Freya’s cats to ensure fertile soil and plentiful crops.
Throughout the Middle Ages in Europe, cats and women have been synonymous with paganism and witchcraft, and credited with special powers. Both have been tortured, burnt, beaten and drowned down the years by those who felt threatened by forces they did not understand. And following the widespread adoption of Christianity (a male dominated religion) by the Roman Empire, the worship of female figures became demoted to cults, their goddesses dismissed as devils…
Independant, enigmatic, beautiful, self-reliant, compelling, mysterious, unpredictable, otherworldly, playful, adorable, seductive, powerful ..oh, what crimes are these?
Authoress Olivia Manning describes cats as “tough, unbiddable little animals that, once worshipped as gods, later harassed as agents of the devil, tortured as a symbol of wickedness and burnt as consorts of witches, have had to suffer more than their share of human stupidity”.
As, some might say, have women.