Monday, August 17, 2009

Belly Flop

Like 85% of all style stories, I suspect this New York Times story about how men's potbellies are "in" was pulled out of the writer's ass. Or maybe there is a paunch trend--I haven't noticed it, but then I didn't notice depression chic anywhere either, and apparently that was huuuge. But check out the photos accompanying the story. I just can't see women's bodies--women's normal, "flawed" bodies, captured by a street photographer--ever making it onto the style pages. (I don't want them there, of course; the thought of being told that thick ankles are "in," accompanied by a smattering of poolside photos, is unsettling. Bodies are bodies, not trends, but that's another post.)

There's this assumption that men are "jus' folks" while women are supposed to be on the catwalk 24/7. Every so often you do see a trend story about how "curves are back" for women--always accompanied by photos of "curvy" celebrites like, oh, Scarlett Johansson, or basically any female celebrity who has breasts larger than a B-cup. The Times piece, however, is accompanied by headless shots of paunchy dudes--real people, that is, captured on the streets of New York simply looking like themselves. "Real women" graphics in this style only show up in a dos-and-don'ts formation--never, in my memory, have a collection of headless women a body-shape trend make. (Unless we're talking about Kate Harding's "headless fatties.")

The closest equivalent women have is the tired trend story about Michelle Obama's arms (though the link is to an L.A. Times piece that actually looks at the issue sociologically and with a feminist eye instead of a fitness piece on "How to Get Michelle Obama's Arms!"). Obama here is a stand-in for the headless, sculpted women who might otherwise make it onto the style pages--but, of course, she's anything but anonymous. Even in a piece that might actually be a women's body trend, we're still told to look upward, not sideways, for our mirror.

A quick thank-you to--never thought I'd say this--Quentin Tarantino for the only contemporary ode to the female potbelly, which starts at 2:30.)

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