Wednesday, February 17, 2010

FLG's Theory

Phoebe asks:
Every Fashion Week, the questions gets asked. Every week, even: The models, why are they so thin? So young? What's driving this? When will someone help the poor girls?

FLG's long-held theory is that the world of fashion is dominated by straight women and gay men, neither of whom possess an innate desire for women. Unconstrained, or FLG would argue unguided, by biology they fixate on what they assume to be sexually appealing and then exaggerate it into the realm of the grotesque. So, the appeal of young, physically fit women becomes distorted into damn near prepubescent and underweight girls.

FLG has no evidence to support this theory, but that does nothing to undermine his faith in it.

13 comments:

George Pal said...

One can always hope that the driving force behind fashion – fad – may extend to models.
It may already be happening.

She, Crystal Renn, has a good deal of Sophia Loren about her, yes?

Alpheus said...

I always assumed it was because ultra-thin bodies are less of a constraint on the range of garments you can design. A normal or heavyset woman has curves you have to work around: not everything will look good. A really skinny woman, as long as she has shoulders, is essentially a clothes hanger.

Phoebe said...

FLG,

The 'it's the gay men and they want girls to look like boys' theory - or its variant, 'straight men wouldn't do things like this', are actually among the standard, most-repeated theories of why models look as they do. Not that you didn't come up with the theory on your own. Nevertheless, since it's still impressive to other men, or so they say, if a man claims he 'dates models,' clearly the standard set by gay men and straight women isn't that far off from what straight men find impressive.

George Pal,

No doubt eventually models will be a different shape, since this does change periodically. But as long as (slightly) larger models are part of a 'see, we care' trend, not an actual change of beauty standards, models like Renn will be the exception.

Alpheus,

That's definitely part of it. That, and the straight-men-are-not-involved, are the two standard theories. The point of my post was to offer a new one, even if the standard ones probably do get us to something closer to the truth.

FLG said...

Phoebe:

I don't typically follow these types of discussions, so I had no idea that there were similar theories. However, I'm not so sure about the "it's still impressive to other men, or so they say, if a man claims he 'dates models,' clearly the standard set by gay men and straight women isn't that far off from what straight men find impressive."

Part of it is just the term "model," methinks. Regardless of how they look. My point, I guess, is that it may be impressive because there aren't that many models in the world, relatively speaking.

George:

This isn't the main point of your comment, but for the life of me I've never been able to understand the appeal of Sophia Loren. Even when she was young, she still does nothing for me.

Andrew Stevens said...

I would argue that men are, on average, actually a little more concerned with how attractive a woman is to other men than they are with how attractive a woman is to themselves personally. Keeping this in mind, dating a model has a cachet - the woman has been recognized to be beautiful by experts, so it's like dating a movie star. Until it was brought up, I had always assumed that the fact that I don't find the majority of models terribly attractive was peculiar to me, but now I realize I was probably wrong about that. I assume most straight men think the same thing. "Well, I don't think much of her. But most people must disagree with me if she gets photographed for a living." And so, men want to date models and are impressed with men who date models, even though none of them actually believe models are perfectly beautiful.

The Maximum Leader said...

What is wrong with you boy? Sophia Loren doesn't do anything for you? Hell... I watched "El Cid" a few weeks ago just to get a young Sophia fix...

Don't be a hater. Love Sophia.

Withywindle said...

1. Camera makes you look 10 pounds heavier, so they'll be skinny anyway. Which doesn't get you to anorexic Latvians, but it gets you partway there.

2. I would have thought there were two populations of models - a select group of anorexic Latvians doing high fashion, and a much larger population of more normal looking young ladies (and gentlemen) advertising everything from Calvin Klein to Purina. When I think "underwear model" -- as I do every five seconds or so -- I think of young ladies who are somewhat more curvaceous than the Paris-runway Baltic waifs. Perhaps when guys say "I'm dating a model," their fellow guys think, correctly, "curvy underwear model."

George Pal said...

Alpheus,

To the point of requiring thin on which to better hang clothes on, the fashion fad has gone to the point of first eliminating the bust and most recently barring, for all intents and purposes, hips. If this is the standard then better the clothes should be fashioned for and presented by well dipilitated men as they, at least the young ones, have neither.

Phoebe,

The 'see, we care' trend suits me, even as a stop gap from the bulimically emaciated young women whose health has been so damaged that more and more seem to lack the energy even to negotiate a catwalk without falling on their boney arses.

FLG,

Adolescent urges were first sparked, in my case, by the likes of Sophia, Gina (Lollobrigida), and Liz (Taylor), all unmistakably womanly and therefore well suited to the task at hand. Sophia’s - and the others’ - appeal eventually waned but I’ve always attributed that more to my fickleness than anything lacking on their parts.

Phoebe said...

In response sort of to all, but first a question straight men might be able to answer: what is the point of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition (for which there are now ads everywhere)? If men want actual porn, they can find that easily enough these days, and it's definitely not about women getting inspiration for which bathing suit to buy.

Back to our topic here...

FLG: There aren't many models. But there also aren't many female, I don't know, mathematicians, but that doesn't make the few out there of any special interest on the dating market. The important thing is that even if the standard isn't exactly the one straight men would have picked, these are (and I say this as someone who sees these women on the street kind of all the time, due to where my campus is located) women who turn heads.

Andrew Stevens,

I doubt if there aren't any men who truly prefer the emaciated look. But you're right, much of this is about impressing people. Of course, what any individual (male or female) finds beautiful in their own subjective way, and how much society impacts this, is often hard to tease out.

Withywindle: Yes, there are underwear models. But even these are typically just emaciated-Latvian-middle-schoolers with cleavage photoshopped in.

George Pal,

The 'see-we-care' doesn't correspond with any actual caring. If anything, the models have gotten thinner since the exposé era began. (Remember Kate Moss?)

Withywindle said...

Phoebe: How disillusioning.

FLG said...

Maximum Leader:

Have been and always will be unable to comprehend Sophia Loren as sex symbol.

Phoebe:

How much of the turning heads is due to relatively simple explanation of abnormal height?

George Pal said...

Phoebe,

The point of the swimsuit issue would be to make gobs of money from newsstand sales at a time when nothing much is happening in the sporting world off of younger men eager to participate in an annual ritual which makes a publicly innocuous statement of their being a part of an event of which most other younger men believe worthy of their participation lest they be thought out of it. (Here we have a textbook example of my ability to write long sentences that may wend their way to incomprehensibility).

The 'see-we-care' may not be a genuine concern by industry movers and shakers but there does seem to be genuine concern outside. Wasn’t it the Italians (God love ‘em) who proposed legislation (or the threat of) suggesting standards that were more in keeping with the humane limits of the human female physique?

Alpheus said...

Two thoughts:

(1) I think people tend to overestimate how much importance men place on looks: confidence, poise, style, and class can matter a lot. This explains a lot of the sex appeal both of models and of the ladies in the SI swimsuit issue.

(2) The young Ms. Loren was all kinds of hot! Has anyone here seen "Boy on a Dolphin"?

 
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