Tuesday, February 20, 2007
There seems to be a frenzy of concern about the mental and physical health of young girls. In America, psychologists are worried about sexualisation in the media. In Britain, we are fretting that girls are 'hung up on their bodies'. These may appear to be the same thing, but they aren't. Sexualisation is all about what to do and how to do it. Body obsession is about becoming the ideal shape. The latter actually conflicts with the former as I realised while watching, in a weak moment, The Agency, a 'reality' TV show set in a New York model agency. The ideal 'high end' models loved by the pond life executives were, not to put to fine a point on it, hideous - gawky, vacant, pasty, gormless etc. The men, in contrast, were more or less conventionally good-looking. (All, consolingly, were fantastically thick. Zoolander is the purest realism.) What seems to have happened is that the fashion industry has created a concept of beauty that is quite separate from sexual desirability. We seem to go along with this, talking about 'beautiful' models even as we are confronted with catwalks full of underfed, sunken-eyed dogs. The whole complex - body-craving, sexualisation - seems to be another example of satisfied urges turning weird. We should just go back to hopeless, passionate yearning. It seemed to make us happier.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 7:01 am