I have the distinct suspicion I’m plodding in where angels fear to tread. Oh well, off I go, we’ve all grown quite friendly. Maybe you’ve been at the drinks cabinet and are feeling mellow. You’ll give me the benefit of the doubt…
Lily Allen’s new video for Hard Out Here.
It’s blowing up the internet as they now like to say. Attracting a storm of controversy.
As it happens, I like it. And let’s get all the nonsense out of the way first. I don’t see the validity in the racist accusations; Lily explained she chose the best dancers who showed up to the audition and had made no request for specific ethnicities. Nor do I see the exploitation because she is fully dressed and they are not. She is playing the role the man usually plays in pop and hip hop videos. Lily also adds that the world would not care to see her chronic cellulite. Fair enough, I say. I too bow to the cellulite’s command every time.
Watch the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0CazRHB0so
No, why I am stepping up to the platform is to thank her in my capacity as a fashion design professor. Not for her contribution to pop music but for her assistance in my classroom. She’s been invaluable. You see the study of fashion is essentially an exploration of individuality. Something to be encouraged and celebrated, pierced, tie-dyed, feathered and pom-pommed. When all we see are women, mute, tongues out, performing the same choreography, dressed in the same few triangles of fabric, well, that’s a study in conformity. It’s anti-fashion. Just an endless parade of faceless arses. Sorry, ladies.
The designer in me dabs at her forehead with her embroidered hanky and cries, “Where is the layering, the play of volume, the exploration of silhouette and drape. The only drape on view is the skin on their buttocks. And let’s not get into choice of openings, position of slits, flaps or concealed buttons or this post will take a decidedly uncomfortable turn.
Another reason I was hesitant to unleash these thoughts that were scratching at the insides of my brain was that I didn’t want to alienate the very students I seek to bring out of themselves. Because you see, they love Miley and Rihanna and all the singers that Lily takes jabs at in her little girl voice. They consider them style icons and trendsetters and, I suppose, why wouldn’t they? They are surrounded on all sides. They don’t come to me knowing David Bowie or Stevie Nicks, but trust me, they will leave with that knowledge. (Don’t even get me started on those sisters of sausage dressing. There is a Kardashian ban in all my classes which is greeted by rolled eyes from diehard fans. In the quest for individuality that entire brood is truly the enemy most foul.)
My favorite tutor when I was a design student was a waify sylph who wore leather mini skirts with bare milky legs rattling about in scuffed cowboy boots who, now that I recall, did pose naked for an alternative band’s album cover. She had blunt cut shoulder length hair in bangs but dyed octogenarian grey, not snowy white, not platinum nor sun kissed, just old-lady-lost-the-melanin-no-more-pigmentation grey. It was the haircut of a seven year old girl, on the body of a 12 year old boy topped off with your granny’s haircolour. She did not wear red lipstick to highlight the way for you. She left you to decipher the contradictions of her appearance for yourself. Or not.
I’m tired of seeing women in music videos crawling on all fours convulsing like they’re having a fit, slapping their own asses and inviting others to do so. I appreciate the athleticism and technique and the work that went into the fine shapely rears on view but I don’t think what they’re doing is attractive. It puts me in mind of sumo wrestling, all that undulating flesh and squatting. There is technique and athleticism in throwing the javelin, but I don’t like to watch it either.
This is not about women taking control, or owning anything. This ‘Wow, we get to call ourselves bitches, see how far we’ve come’ thinking doesn’t resonate with me. Really, we women are suckers sometimes. It’s hard out here for a bitch because we continue to make it that way. And girls have too few alternatives to inspire them, so without the likes of Lily’s provocation, how will that change?
Come on, ladies, have some self respect. Or as our girl puts it, “Forget your balls and grow a pair of tits.”
My first novel is now available. You can buy Silk for the Feed Dogs here.