The Irrelevance of Body Image

Here is my fourth offering for the College Tribune, published 22th October 2013. I didn’t intend for it to be as polemic as it is; I think I was feeling a little insecure last Friday night, and a glass of wine loosened my tongue a little!

The Irrelevance of Body Image

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, well forever, you must have notice the constant bombardment of media images of ‘ideal’ feminine beauty. With every new issue of Now or Harper’s Bazaar comes  the latest notion about what constitutes the ideal body, the essence of femininity. One week we’re  being instructed that “thin is in”, the next we’re lamenting our lack of curves because they’re  imperative for a ‘real’ woman. Beyoncé has praise heaped on her for her athletic physique while
Coleen Rooney gets red circles drawn around her cellulite. Does this strike you as a little unfair? 

      For as long as I’ve been poring over fashion magazines, their central tenet has been that lithe,  toned limbs and washboard stomachs are the epitome of female success. Undoubtedly, some of their  readers were glancing at their tummies and thighs wondering why they didn’t rival Kate Moss, and  devising drastic measures to attain the desirable form of the fashion world. And then, all of a sudden,  you were nothing if you weren’t endowed with ample cleavage and a shapely derrière. Kelly Brooks  and Christina Hendricks became the belles du jours, and the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow were ridiculed  for their slender frames.
     

      But glancing back through the decades, it becomes clear that, when it comes to innate style and  elegance, body shape goes out the window. Elizabeth Taylor was voluptuous and beautiful with her  striking violet eyes, and her enviable couture wardrobe and sparkling jewellery collection were  celebrated at the Museum of Style Icons this year. On the other hand, it is impossible to speak of style without mentioning the diminutive Audrey Hepburn. Championing the elfin and the chic, Hepburn  oozed sophistication in classic black shift dresses, delicate ball gowns and sharp cigarette pants. But it was her lovely brown eyes that captivated the world, not her dress size.

      And even today, despite the ever-brightening glare of the paparazzo’s flash standing ready to  capture any glimpse of imperfection, we have our own style icons, for whom the size of their hips  matters little when it comes to their brand of style. A personal favourite of mine, Olivia Palermo, is consistently criticised for her slim figure. Yes she is slim, but so what She knows damn well how to pull an edgy outfit together, and who isn’t envious of her hair? Then we have Salma Hayek, whose red carpet looks flatter her curves to perfection and never fail to reflect the glamour of the occasion.

    Today, people have enough in their lives to be worrying about without obsessively measuring our thighs and pondering the mysteries of the weighing-scales. For men and women, body image has become such an unnecessarily important fixation that the consequences are sometimes devastating. It would take a strong person not to be affected by what we observe everyday. A woman might not fit the media’s ideal, but she is no more or no less a woman than Jennifer Aniston or Katie Taylor or any other female icon that one might care to mention. If she is happy and healthy, then she is an icon to
herself.

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A/W Accessory Trends 2013

So here is my third and longest article for the College Tribune, published on the 8th of October 2013. It was my biggest challenge so far but I really enjoyed it and my editor was quite pleased with it too. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t enjoy Googling photographs of stunning neckpieces and Chanel handbags.

 

A/W 2013 Accessories Trendwatch

 

After the riot of incoming trends thrown at us during the iconic New York, London and Milan Fashion Weeks, it’s time to digest Autumn/Winter 2013’s stand-out accessory trends. Broadly speaking, the coming months in the fashion world are going to feature an eclectic mix of the opulent, the futuristic, the minimalist, the classic and the intricate. From crowns to brooches, sunglasses, handbags and shoes, we’ve singled out the most striking and wearable new accessories for A/W 2013. Some new trends might seem a little daring initially, but keep an eye on magazines, blogs and fashion websites to learn from fashion’s most educated just how to pull off these striking pieces with ease and grace.

        Perhaps one of the most eye-catching trends seen for A/W was Dolce & Gabbana’s intricate golden crowns. Encrusted with jewels and beautifully detailed, they were reminiscent of regal Elizabethan crown jewels with a touch of Gothic romance. The crowns were paired with black lace, rich mosaic-patterned dresses and stunning Byzantine crucifix earrings. The look was offset by pale matte complexions, ruby lips and black winged eyes. These crowns are decadent, dramatic and utterly luxurious. A personal favourite trend of mine, these are the ultimate accessory in winter styling.

        Inspired not only by Dolce & Gabbana, but also Oscar de la Renta and Matthew Williamson’s use of jewel tones, the high street has wholeheartedly embraced the costume jewellery trend. Asos features opulently jewelled neckpieces in Art Deco and Baroque styles, and their Orelia crown is a more delicate take on this catwalk trend. Zara gives us a feast of richly coloured necklaces, including one piece set with sumptuous tourmaline-hued gemstones. And our old faithful, Penneys, comes up trumps with colourfully ornate gold and silver neckpieces with matching chunky studs, giving a classic look a 1980s twist.

     Staying with the jewellery trend, this A/W, Emanuel Ungaro has revamped the brooch , something most of us would have dismissed as old-fashioned. But Ungaro might just change your mind. Generally, the collection is a powerful fusion of masculine and feminine; bold shoulders, cinched waists, opulent furs, with dashes of animal print, yellow and cobalt. His brooches are richly golden with clear gemstone flourishes, shaped into dragonflies and flowers. They are piled high with black belted dresses and leopard print coats. Bold, daring and sexy, the entire look screams 80s power dressing in a 21st century way.

        Moving on to handbags; Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel has brought monochrome to A/W 2013, softened by tweeds and wools. And his new 2.55 bar handle bags are his standout accessory. Like a small satchel, these bags have short handles in both leather and chain, and they are designed to be slung nonchalantly at the hip. Cylindrical styles also featured on the catwalk. In black, dove grey or a gorgeous inky-blue, these bags were paired with textured wool coats, pleated skirts and black patent boots adorned with even more chains. This is a tough, no-nonsense look broken up by the soft, supple leather of the bags, which we can only wish to reach out and touch.

        Turning to footwear, and Christian Dior has revolutionised the humble court shoe for A/W 2013. It hasn’t been too long since we last saw oddly-shaped heels, but Dior has brought a whole new level to this look. Spiky and multistrapped, these shoes also feature delicately curved arches, metallic plates, snakeskin and an array of colours from black to candyfloss-pink to lime green. These are versatile and surprisingly wearable, and frankly an utter joy to look at, with interesting juxtapositions of colours and textures. Dior has achieved ladylike and futuristic in one creative swoop, and it’s only a matter of time before the high street picks up on this key trend.

        Finally, even though we’ve only just started to put ours away for the winter, the players of the fashion world are already looking ahead to the sunglasses of summer 2014. As always, there were some wonderfully classic designs to be seen, including Carolina Herrera’s Jackie O-inspired cat-eye tortoiseshells, Diane von Furstenburg’s delicate gold frames and Kate Spade’s clear-framed Wayfare style, cutely adorned with tiny monochrome flowers. Some more modernistic sunglasses were also to be seen on the catwalk; Philip Lim had a modern take on the ubiquitous Wayfarer, DKNY’s chunky white frames had a distinctly futuristic feel, and Honor showcased some rather pretty cat-eye shades with mosaic-printed frames. And lastly we had the weird and wonderful; Anna Sui’s sunglasses were decidedly wacky with brown butterfly-shaped frames, Desigual presented large, round lenses in red frames with an artdeco feel, and Karen Walker’s blue lenses in chunky white frames were truly a sight to behold. Whatever your sunglasses style, there was certainly an abundance of inspiration to be taken from the catwalks this A/W.

         London, Milan and New York Fashion Weeks have already assaulted our senses with an array of accessory trends for A/W 2013. Design power houses such as Dolce & Gabbana, Chanel and Christian Dior never fail to impress, and the sunglasses styles featured by the likes of Carolina Herrera, Philip Lim and Anna Sui were just a taster of the kind of accessory trends we can expect to see in magazines, online and on the street in the coming months. With Paris still to go, there can only be more exciting accessory trends for us to feast our eyes on. And as always, we can count on the high street to deliver us the hottest trends at pocket-friendly prices.

Just keep swimming…

As much as I dislike it, unfortunately my return to college has resulted in me having less time to post on my blog. To remedy this appalling state of affairs, I decided to write a little catch-up post. Not that my life is extemely interesting lately but at least it’ll explain my absence from the blogosphere.

I am still commuting to university, and while the tiredness is slowly easing as I adjust, my stress levels are definitely on the rise. It’s honestly not too dire, but I’m finding a routine difficult to establish while I shuttle between home, university and the town where my boyfriend lives. Because, heaven forbid I might have made life a little easier for myself by choosing a boyfriend who lives near me. But he does make it up to me by buying me wine.

Assignment deadlines are beginning to loom, so I’m getting a little panicky. Trying to fit in writing articles for the college newspaper is a bit of a challenge too. One of my assignments (a discussion on determinist criminological theories) is starting to become quite daunting, as much of the modern research that I need to write about is really technical and scientific. I mean, what the hell is a genome? Other assignments include something to do with historiography (ugh) and the guild system in 13th century Florence.

Speaking of which, I’m going on a field trip to Florence for three nights next week! I’m unbelievably excited; despite the short notice I bought my flights at a discount so it’s all affordable and ought to be really interesting and fun. Everyone who I’ve told seems to be quite jealous, so I’mma relish it! And it’s my birthday the following week, which is always lovely to look forward to. J was asking me lots of questions about whether my mother has bought me the Nexus 7 I asked for as a Christmas present, so my spidey senses are tingling. And no, my spidey senses never err on the side of realism.

All in all, the weeks ahead will be fun but full of hard work. Day to day, I’m either in J’s house or at work when I’m not in college so I’ve barely a moment to catch my breath. When I do, I sit down with Mum in the evenings and watch The Great British Bake Off (no spoilers please, I haven’t seen it yet this week) with a glass of wine. It’s very much the domesticated life for me lately, seeing as I struggle to stay awake past 11pm these nights.

Even though I’m still quite busy and a little tired, things are going okay. And I’ll keep trying to keep the blog updated; it’s a lovely little release to fire off a post and keep the creative side of my brain buzzing. So here’s hoping I’ll still keep posting things worth reading; because come exam time, my brain will be a veritable lump of mush.