Pop Theory 19: Was Fashion Ever Really About Real Women?
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[Editor's Note: Pop Theory 19 was first published at AfterEllen 4 Sept 2012.]
The final week of August carries with it anticipatory feelings of what September inaugurates: a new school year and a new fashion season. While as a Leo I’ve an inherent love of August, September is the month that makes me giddy: desk copies of books I’m teaching this fall and September issues of the elite garden variety of fashion magazines (including “the” 916 page September Issue) have amassed on my coffee table like holiday presents that magically appear under the X-Mas tree overnight.
As many of you know, I study and teach ethics (through literature), and my love of learning is philosophically complimented by my love of fashion. Indeed, if ethics is a set of stylized ways of living, then aesthetics — created through our clothes, shoes and various other accoutrements—is a significant part of those ethics. Fashion is the aesthetic manifestation and performance of one’s ethics; it is both symbolic of and formative to the way one lives.
Which is not to say I turn my nose at how fashion is consumed by the hoi polloi—by which I mean in my own round-about way that, of course, I watch Project Runway and, oh yes, my jaw hit the ground after watching Ven’s seething misogyny find its way out of his fat head and onto my TV screen this past week. (We were all waiting for it, no? I mean, he’s definitely carried an air of “sanctimonious asshat” about him this entire time, ammi right? See my friend and AE-comrade Jill’s recap of the episode.)
One might naively claim that Ven’s cruel comments about his client Terri Herlihy (a size 10 even though Ven repeatedly asserted that she was a “size 14” and (incorrectly) “plus-sized”) was some kind of projection of his own fat-phobic (or fat-induced) self-loathing — but, like most men (yes, I said it), I don’t think Ven has that kind of cognitive register or level of self-awareness. I don’t think he’s capable of seeing the extent to which his hypocritically stupidity has taken hold of his being. For instance, was the comment "[m]y client really doesn't have a shape—she doesn't have any sense