Thursday, November 01, 2007

Just a little - well mannered - rant!

I must have been about eight when my convent school had it's first 'wear what you want' day. We talked about nothing else for weeks, and I just knew my dress would be the best. It was yellow with mock leather trims (I know, I know, I want one NOW too!). Anyway, I hardly slept all night but imagine my horror when my mum dropped me off at school to find another girl was wearing exactly the same dress. I did what any self-respecting fashionista would do - I stomped out and walked the six miles home, bother the consequences.

Anyway, that dress was from Marks and Spencer and it was a family joke after how I'd never buy anything from there again in case someone else wore the same.

So maybe that's why the adverts featuring Twiggy in a gondola are worrying me so much. Because after all, all she's doing is sitting in a boat looking, apart from the slightly scary eyes, perfectly ordinary.

And then I get it. That's what annoys me. Presumably M&S picked Twiggy because she's an icon still. She represented a whole decade if those photographic collages of the 60's are anything to go by. And she did this by daring to be a bit different. Absolutely not wearing the same dress as anyone else, and people of that age wanted to look llike Twiggy exactly because of that.

I don't believe the M&S ads. I don't believe the same Twiggy who stood gazing at the camera in the 60s - her eyes anything but scary - would choose beige clothes that make her look like anyone else, if a little bit cleaner.

And - to me - she's not a role model for how I want to look when I'm over-50 either, so I can't believe those of that age now want to either. She doesn't look like someone who wants to celebrate her age, but to hide it by becoming too safe. Unthreatening. Beige. Neat.

And that's exactly what Twiggy in the 60s wasn't. She changed the whole way we think about our bodies, right or wrong. But she made things happen.

God when I'm over fifty, I don't want to care what anyone thinks of me anymore. And I certainly don't want to be an M&S Twiggy trying to become invisible, and hoping I might pass for thirty-five.

It's like putting a beautiful fifty year old woman on dull tranquilisers. Break out Twiggy. Rock that boat and make us think again about our bodies - albeit slightly older ones!


Clare said...

On my first Wear What You Like day, I insisted on wearing my uniform because I was so proud of it.

Sarah said...

Clare! That's SO sweet. Hope you've written about it!

Catherine said...

Clare, that comment sounds like a really good short story opening to me. I would read on. It's the word 'uniform' with all its repressed-yet-kinky undertones that intrigues me....please, please write it.