Staying Abreast of Women’s Fashion

I am on a train travelling at high speed towards Paris. Suddenly it is cooler. The heat of the south is giving way to weather much like one might expect in East Anglia in the UK. People in the carriage are donning extra clothes. A woman in the seat in front has screwed down a tight leather jacket with a ribbed back, much like those beloved by French film directors. I think she is a shoe designer because I half overheard her talking about footwear and she was pointing out a pair of blood red boots to her companion, not in that “wouldn’t these be nice to own” kind of way but with a proprietorial, “these are my children” lyricism. Women’s magazines are also stuffed in a rack beside me. My companion designs clothes.

When I look through them, there are all the expected images of women, emphasising, shot by shot, different parts of their topographies, as though, in essence, there is actually only one woman and she has been dissected and then rendered in cameo sections to the reader, as a benign gift of attainability. But this composite woman cannot be emulated by her readers. She is a phantasm, populating their dreams but never their realities.

Look, she has all the bits that men crave for and in such perfect order. See the breasts in particular. Aren’t they just sugar coated seduction?

Except when they have a baby attached to them. Then there is shock and rejection. Do not enter the fantasies of magazine readership with those sort of realities. One female writer sent an email to a news programme this week saying that breast feeding should be kept to the privacy of the toilet, not public spaces.

This places it nicely in the pages of life, doesn’t it?

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