Guest Post From Bridgette Raes
Every morning I do a quick scan of the news in fashion via Google. It’s often how I pick up a good story worth mentioning on this blog. I find this helpful if I’m either rushed for time or out of ideas of something to post. Today, I actually found two articles so diametrically opposed that I needed to mention both of them.
First, according to a poll by People Helen Mirren has been voted ‘Body of the Year’ beating out celebs like Jennifer Lopez and Pippa Middleton. How freakin’ cool is that? I always say that when I am a lady of age and wisdom I want to be Helen Mirren.
I think this is also awesome because it shows that the public is looking at sexy and beautiful in different ways and that it exceeds it being solely about how slim, trim, toned and young you are. Being sexy or hot or attractive is the total package of inner and outer qualities and, I agree with the poll, Helen Mirren’s got it!
Now…on to other news.
After reading that article that gave me a feeling of promise and hope, that society is finally starting to look past youth, perfection and dewy skin as the standard of beauty, I also read a in the NYPost about Teen Queens and how more designers are using 13-year old stars for their ad campaigns. (Snore…again?)
Designers and labels like Marc Jacobs, Miu Miu are utilizing the youth and star power of actresses like Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) along with sisters Dakota and Elle Fanning for their provocative and suggestive ads. I know, this is hardly a new approach (Hello Brooke Shields for Calvin Klein in the 80′s) but it always irks me and makes me uncomfortable all at the same time, but not for a reason you might think.
Dakota Fanning, 17, in Marc Jacobs’ perfume ad
This has undoubtedly caused a bit of a controversy and some are saying that the ads for fall look more like back-to-school catalogs regardless of the fact that there have been quite a few models who started their career at the same age.
Hailee Steinfeld, 14 in Miu Miu looks like she is wearing her mother’s clothing
While some have argued over the poor judgment in the use of young girls in these ads, I got a kick out of Hailee Steinfeld’s (currently the model for Miu Miu) comment in the article:
“The best part about [the Miu Miu] collection . . . is the fact that it’s so sophisticated — it’s timeless,” she said. “For younger girls like me, it works. It feels appropriate.”
Really Hailee? Timeless? What the heck do you know about timeless?
And, how many of you were shopping for Miu Miu, or Miu Miu level clothing, at 14 years old?
I didn’t think so.
In the NYPost article it, of course, elaborates on the sexualization of young girls and the fact that use of teenagers “hold up adolescent bodies as ideals of womanhood.” Both valid and important points, that we’ve heard oodles of time, but here is my gripe:
Most women really don’t come into their own until they hit their mid-thirties. Some of you younger readers may argue with me and I understand, I would have argued the same point when I was younger, but trust me (not to sound patronizing) one day you will get it. And, admittedly, one day, when I’m rounding the corner to my 50′s and beyond, after I develop even greater wisdom and comfort with myself, I will probably laugh at bit by how much I think I claim to know about myself at the age I am now. Bottom line, with age comes greater wisdom, greater comfort with ourselves and these ads using children are completely dismissive towards that fact. Who in their prime years yearn to be 13, 15 or 17 again? I sure don’t…not even if you handed me a suitcase of money as a trade. I wouldn’t trade a better bottom, perkier boobs or un-crinkled skin around my eyes for all the wisdom and comfort that the years since have offered me. Regardless of the fact that I’m not as comfortable in a bikini or a short skirt as I was at 17, I still feel a lot sexier and comfortable as a woman now than I did back back then. There is just something so sexy about a woman who is comfortable in her body and knows who she is. These juvenile ads miss that point and are missing out on the ability to capitalize on that. Imagine more advertisements celebrated the gorgeousness that comes with just coming into your own as a woman? God, they would be hot, inspirational and well as aspirational.
Yet, advertising dumbs it down and latches on to the most base form of sexuality, an ideal that older women, who are comfortable in their own bodies, care little about. However, these are the same women who are more likely to have the means to plunk down their money on the clothing they’re hawking. Which is why I find these ads so stupidly laughable. Don’t you think much of what makes Helen Mirren sexy (aside from how good she looks in a bikini) is the fact that she comfortably accepts herself and honors it? Do you really think she is pining to be 13 again?
So, while I am mildly sickened by the over sexualization of young girls in grown up advertisements, I’m too bored by the already for it to really register or to rustle my feathers. What I’m more bothered by are advertisers who actually believe that any woman with even a shred of aplomb actually feels at all desirous to be that young again.
Bridgette Raes is the president of Bridgette Raes Style Group, author of the book Style Rx: Dressing the Body You Have to Create the Body You Want and a sought-after spokesperson, style expert and writer for many media outlets including CNN, Good Morning America and Real Simple Magazine. She and her Style Consultants are available worldwide for consultation, in-person or virtually.
This post is a copy of her blog post http://blog.bridgetteraes.com/2011/08/02/helen-mirren-voted-body-of-the-year-meanwhile-designers-using-13-year-olds-in-ad-campaigns/