The Shock of the Old

The fashion industry is based on revolution every six months, but I am often shocked by how little changes. The phrase Plus ca change, plus c’est la même chose describes it perfectly.

It is the most politically incorrect, backward, intolerant, and prejudiced industry you could ever choose to work in–except for maybe the Hollywood film industry. It is riddled with “isms”. In one of my classes last week I broached this matter with a group of students, average age: 21. I showed images to prompt discussion on these “isms”, some of which are simply pesky annoyances, while others are appalling invasions of human rights. It was a discussion admittedly somewhat superficial on topics that require much more thought and dialogue. Definitely more of an expanded knee-jerk reaction–much like many of the responses within the fashion industry.

Here’s a snapshot of what went down:

1. AGEISM:

Model: Daphne Selfe

Model: Daphne Selfe

Daphne, in her mid-80s, grandmother and widow, became a successful model at the ripe old age of 70, has said she would not get Botox or plastic surgery, and is exactly 50 years older than Madonna was when she wore the same Gaultier-designed outfit on her Blond Ambition tour.

Class verdict: The image was distasteful, unpleasant to look at. Some allowed that if it was what she wanted to do, then fair play to her. But they didn’t need to see it.

Daphne at home

Daphne at home

By all accounts, an elegant and well-preserved older lady. Class was in agreement. Many of them mentioned their grandmother.

Daphne in editorial

Daphne in editorial

Unanimous disapproval. The sound was like a crowd of spectators at a sporting event reacting to a bad foul. One said she looked like she was “about to do the nasty.” Another declared, “There’s no need for that.”  I observed a room of disgusted faces.

2. CONFORMISM:

During a long stretch from the late 90s to mid 00s, we became used to models more or less looking the same. One face was equal to the next. Dispensable and replaceable. All personality was stripped away. The idea often put forward by designers is that a model should be like a blank canvas ready to be painted.

Charlotte Free

Charlotte Free

Class response: The general consensus–I’m paraphrasing here–was “Hell, yeah!” Standing out is the clarion call in design school; it was even back in my day.  (Of course, many of the students I teach have pink or other synthetically colored hair and piercings, so how much they really stand out is a question for another time.)Isms in Fashion Powerpoint 2.010One guy responded to this photo with: “I thought she looked really cute until I saw this.” But interestingly, it was the females who objected most vociferously to the underarm hair. “For a start, there’s the hygiene factor,” reasoned one. A girl in the back far corner said “I’m in a long-term relationship, my boyfriend sees me like this all the time.” “Not a chance! Never!” responded all the other females in the room.

3. RACISM

On the news we have heard talk of the emergence of a new African-American Middle Class. I showed the class this photograph from Prada’s runway show Fall 2008.

Jourdan Dunn for Prada

Jourdan Dunn for Prada

Several students said they were unaware of this fact about Prada. Otherwise the class remained quite quiet. I asked eventually if it changed their view of Prada. One girl said she would not look at them anymore, and wouldn’t buy anything from them, even if she could afford it.

Controversial Vogue Italia issue

Controversial Vogue Italia issue 2008

One student said it was disappointing that Vogue Italia felt the need to label it, the “Black Issue.” I had a copy of the current issue of Vogue US, the cover of which proclaimed a “new era of diversity” on the catwalks and featured cover girl, Rhianna.

Rhianna in Vogue: One student at the back of the room said she looked like a white girl from where she was sitting.

One student at the back of the room said Rhianna looked like a white girl from where she was sitting.

Lupita Nyong'o in Miu Miu ad campaign

Lupita Nyong’o in Miu Miu ad campaign

One student, African American male, said this “diversity” was just a trend, a fad. Another noted with interest the new face of the ad campaign of Prada’s second line, Miu Miu: Lupita Nyong’o.

4. SIZEISM:

In the US, unlike the rest of the fashion world, there are two types of catwalk models. There are the usual skinny girls, those faces of the moment who open or close the big shows and who we see in all the important editorials and on magazine covers. The second group contains the skinny models with boobs: the Victoria’s Secret catwalk girls. Their earnings rival and even surpass those of the first group. The only difference between the models of the two groups is the possession of a set of boobs. Kate Moss’s statement Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels still rings true throughout the fashion industry.

The average American woman is a size 12/14. The average catwalk model is a size 2/4.

Tara Lynn, Curvy Model

Tara Lynn, Curvy Model

The term “Plus Size” is no longer acceptable in the fashion industry. The correct description is “Curvy”. The class approved of this change and agreed Tara was beautiful. Cindy Crawford at her supermodel weight would fall into the Curvy category today.Isms in Fashion Powerpoint 2.017The above comment drew gasps from the class. I told them I had heard such comments often on fashion shoots. Within earshot of the model in question. More outrage.

Singer, Beth Ditto

Singer, Beth Ditto

The students’ reaction to this image was less clear-cut. Some found her skin color troublesome, others thought the background blue might be at fault, perhaps even the red hue of her hair. The impression was that there was something not quite right about this image. When they compared Beth with Tara, they considered Tara healthy looking, implying that Beth wasn’t.

I told my students that I got along better in the industry when I lost 10 pounds. I still performed my job as well as I had done before but I received more recognition for it when at a lighter weight. They looked thoughtful but said nothing.

5. SEXISM

In the fashion industry, all kinds of complicated sexism is at work. It’s an industry in which mostly men tell women how they should look. This alone can be a thorny issue. Isms in Fashion Powerpoint 2.019Everyone agreed that this model was beautiful. One girl commented however that her face was just like every other typical blond face. One girl said that although she was skinny, at least she had curves.

Andrej Pejic

Andrej Pejic

I agree I have been a little manipulative in how I have presented this category. By one student’s reaction I could see she knew immediately the model was male and I put my finger to my lips to silence her. The remainder of the class was initially shocked at the reveal. Many then commented that he made a beautiful woman. An interesting discussion followed in which the females expressed concern that we have come to a stage where we are not only comparing ourselves to impossible standards of womanhood but now we are comparing ourselves to males. Their final opinion encapsulated in one student’s comment seemed to be: “this is normal in the fashion industry.”

***

I hope it doesn’t come across that I think fighting to retain pink hair is on the same level as struggling to be accepted for your skin color. I really hope there is no insensitivity in this post. I am offering up a series of random examples of how often the fashion industry rejects diversity. From the most petty level right up to gross prejudice. And yet, once in a while, as in Andrej Pejic’s case, diversity is embraced.

I have tried to draw conclusions from these interesting conversations. They might be crass conclusions derived from minimal research, in a design school at the centre of a culturally diverse city such as New York, and rather on the general side, but I thought they were interesting enough to share.

Jessica Lang for Marc Jacobs Beauty campaign. One student asked why Marc Jacobs had covered his example of beauty in shadows...

Jessica Lang for Marc Jacobs Beauty campaign. One student asked why Marc Jacobs felt the need to cover his example of beauty in shadows…

1. While Jessica Lange is introduced as the new face of Marc Jacobs Beauty or 62-year-old Jacky O’Shaughnessy poses in a leotard for American Apparel, 21-year-olds believe growing old and attempting to be sexy is unacceptable. It’s pretty icky, actually.

2. Females are more offended by the idea that they grow body hair than the males they shave it off for.

3. While I see some encouraging results towards eliminating racism in the fashion industry, probably emanating from the pressure put on the CFDA by the new Diversity Coalition headed by Bethann Hardison, Naomi Campbell and Iman, this new generation of professionals entering the fashion industry is not so optimistic. They believe that racism will continue because they have seen incentives like this before fade away just like other fashion trends.

4. Being curvy, even having rolls, is considered beautiful if it looks healthy. Healthy seems to mean caramel skinned, or tanned, but not milk bottle white.

5. The younger generation is accepting of all gender play within clothing. They see evidence of cross dressing at school every day.

By far, Daphne Selfe received the most disapproval. Maybe ageism occurred in my classroom because it is the issue the students feel farthest removed from. When you are 21, you cannot possibly imagine how it must feel to be 80. The closest thing they had around to old age was me! They felt safe to express their distaste openly.

I found it all so interesting. But I’d love to know your thoughts on any of the above…

My debut novel is a humorous look behind the glamour of the fashion industry. You can buy Silk for the Feed Dogs here.

55 comments

  1. Is the fashion industry just a mirror of how our society at large operates or does it influence how we think? Chicken and egg question? I used to think fashion and print magazines influenced our society to a larger degree than acceptable but I am not so sure anymore. It could be that our prejudices are far more ingrained than we think.
    I understand how 20 year olds would find the photo of Daphne Selfe repulsive – what surprised me is that I thought her image wearing just a slip, being seductive, left me wishing I had skipped over it. And I am a lot closer to 80 than they are!

    • It is hard to unravel what we think with what we are forced to think. In all three images, she was photographed for magazine editorials. Does that change your opinion? In Italy, as in Ireland, I think old age is not as feared as in the US, would you agree?

      • Maybe it’s not as frowned upon as it is here in the States, and certainly older people play bigger roles within extended families. But I have been witnessing an alarming trend of younger and younger women availing themselves of Botox, fillers and plastic surgery to create an omogenized look.

  2. Wow! What a great class. It’s not only what happens or is said in the classroom — you have sent information out into the World to be thought about, mulled over and slept on. In the future, these topics will be more apparent to you students and with their new data sets, the decisions they make will morph and change from their awareness. Good or Bad.

  3. Daphne Selfe:
    1st photo – awesome! Use her as a model.
    2nd photo – Boring….
    3rd photo — You go girl! May I look so great at 80+ But, my Mother is 80 and she is absolutely beautiful in my eyes, I love my Father’s hands. BTW, Dame Vivienne Westwood takes a great photo, too.

    • In complete agreement! I think the generation below us will be so accustomed to the new standards of Botoxed and cosmetically enhanced beauty they are bombarded with that a naturally aging human female like Daphne will be considered at best, ungroomed, at worst, revolting. 😦

  4. What an insightful article. The real world is harsh and it doesnt help when the fashion world continues to negatively influence us

    • Thanks for reading! I tell my students if you have a skin as thick as a rhino’s you will progress well in the fashion industry. But as you say that could apply to any walk of life because the influences of the fashion industry are far reaching.

  5. I wonder now what the underlining purpose of fashion has become. Is it to lead people into being able to express themselves by the clothing they chose. Is it shock and awe, hey you nobody, look at me, I’m beautiful. Has it all become so superficial that what is beneath the look is irrelevant, man, women, sheman? There are men who like to wear women’s clothes and so are designers now targeting that demographic with male models looking mostly female. There are also designers who make women look like men removing the hints of feminine curves by design. Is it fashionable now to make gender a take your best guess proposition? My mother always kept her fashionable clothes in the closet and over the years would see them cycle in and out of style. We, humans, for the most part have a head, two arms and two legs. The middle parts and facial hair would differentiate gender. Jay Leno has a line where he says back in the day the men were men and the women were glad of it. There was wisdom that came with age and that wisdom had value. In some cultures it still does. Now with all the apps and instant internet information the older generations here seem quickly dismissed as irrelevant. Drug companies and fast food conglomerates do more harm to the young and old people than tasteless fashion does. Wearing a bad outfit? well at least the side effects won’t hospitalize nor paralyze you. The question I remember is, do the clothes make the man or does the man make the clothes? Models are a crucial part of selling clothing. How do we get people to look at our clothes? Get them worn by Hollywood stars on red carpet award shows, pretty models on magical runways, musical superstars on both. Who are these fashions designed for, anyway? Not the smiling, sweet, size 16-18 working a checkout line. High society is steamrolling traditional boundaries using fashion as the vehicle to drive the point to the masses or at least to those who choose to pay attention. Perhaps fashion dutifully feeds the Hollywood entertainment content beast that knows no satisfaction, like a hamster on the wheel. Regardless, it is art and beauty is still in the eyes of the beholder.

    • Thanks for the thoughtful comments, I think fashion is all of the above: self expression, a form of beauty, art, a method to shock, utilitarian…Depending on what type of designer you are indicates which of these criteria you seek to highlight. Over the past 2 decades, clothes that heighten the femininity of women (body conscious or low cut etc) have still mostly been displayed on pubescent-looking body types. This is not new and looks unlikely to change any time soon. The days of Cindy Crawford body types are far gone. When I lived in Italy I was very aware of how respected the older generation was in society. Back home in Ireland too. I think in the US, not so much, I have to say. Old age here is something bad and should be pushed to the dark corners, not celebrated. That is a crying shame. Although, in saying that, in Italy or US, old age isn’t featured on the catwalks except once in a while as a token gesture. That would be beyond the pale. Even in the design field, my peers and friends often ask the question “Where do all the old designers go?” You just don’t see them in the design teams. Are they fired? Are their resumes binned? Do they parley their skills into other fields? They’ve not all reached retirement age! In my experience, big successful designers have an image in their head of who they are dressing when they design and present their collections. She’s young, hip, but has nothing to do with the reality of who’s buying the clothes. Age brings a wealthiness that allows you to afford designer clothes. Young women are not the ones spending the money because they don’t have it but they are the ones in the ad campaigns. It’s all pretty confused, isn’t it? Although I think since days of the Roman Empire right through to modern times, one thing has been consistent: Youth is coveted above all else. That’s not going out of fashion any time soon.
      PS. Love Jay Leno’s comment!

      • With each generation longevity increases yet as you rightly state youth is one thing people try to hold on to. It has been said youth is wasted on the young. Remaining youthful, vibrant, seems more important to media than growing old with health, wisdom, and vitality. Yet the boomers are a huge consumer market, witness the prime time TV ad campaigns for regenerative skin and hair products, anti-depression drugs, erection drugs, reverse mortgages, retirement financial planers, and Ralph Lauren right there in the TV ad mix creating not only clothes but “the world” of Ralph Lauren and he is 74, born October 14, 1939. His fall 2014 collection notes “Pure, elegant, glamorous – the fall 2014 collection redefines modern luxury”
        Ralph, for one old designer seems to be alive and kicking

      • That’s true, RL’s going great guns. And Armani and de la Renta. Fair play to them. They own their own companies that they started 40 some years ago and can do as they please. But behind the scenes, in the design teams that create the clothes that are labeled with the founder’s name, no one is over 55! Wisdom and experience is valued in design up to a certain point but youth with its ear to the ground , finger on the pulse is valued equally. In other fields of design–architecture, furniture, even product–it’s not so glaring, this drop-off.

  6. hmm, you should have shown them a picture of Elly Mayday. You could have covered a couple of different looks at once. She is a famous (in some circles) curvy model who has ovarian cancer, too. She modeled with her scar and her bald head and I have to say I cringed but…at the same time, I have that scar now. I have that body. I was shocked to see a beautiful woman posing in lingerie looking ‘like that’. It really opened my eyes about, not just how I see others. but how I see myself. Beauty may very well be in the eye of the beholder but if you see yourself, really SEE, what age and illness, what work and worry and unemployment and children and stress can do to you, you may forget what true beauty is. I did for a long long time. Then I remembered that Diana Vreeland wasn’t ‘beautiful’ and neither was Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel. It was their style that made them beautiful. Their ability to deal with stress and work and age and worry etc…that made them beautiful. Age did not touch them. Art made them icons.

    • My Goodness, Elly Mayday bald, with her scar and curves is Gorgeous! I must have a forgiving or open eye to people and body types — but there is beauty in everyone and I get to see it in my diverse City everyday.

    • Yes, she would have been a great addition, Laura. I think, without being presumptuous to speak on their behalf, my class would have unanimously found her beautiful–not simply because she is, but because they would have connected with that warrior spirit that however small, in comparison, they need in their everyday lives. She is a brilliant role model for cancer survival, as well as the more superficial aspects of our culture: beauty, body type. Dammit, I wish I had included her now!

      • I love her. I really do. And the company that continued to use her image is to be applauded as well. Your post has given me quite a lot to think about, I was talking to my Mom about it yesterday and while standing in line to pay for fabric the clerk kept looking at ME and talking to ME when it was Mom who was making the dress. When you’re old you become invisible. Mom was quite put out. And who can blame her? I was shocked myself. Mom says that it happens all the time when she’s with anyone younger. They don’t know my mother. She’s sharper than me and twice as beautiful.

  7. Another fascinating, challenging, post Jackie. I’d love to go to your class- then your students would be shocked! Who let in the overweight, curvy woman with practically white hair and ghostly skin?

  8. A brilliant post Jackie..without lecturing at them you gave them food for thought which is education as it’s best. This really needs to be published in a magazine xxxxx

  9. Thanks Kate although I think I learn as much or more from the class than they do–an opportunity for anthropological study all round! xo

  10. Brilliant piece. You say it so well. I have just read this after posting a piece on grey hair and ageing….just had a birthday. Mine is lighter piece in size and tone but touches on similar…..

  11. Fashion industry is definitely one of the few creative diciplines which does NOT accomodate or accept less than a perfect version of human beings. I studied architecture and I was always encouraged to be public minded and sensible. You were great to make your students come face to face with those uncomfortable facts in the industry and started them thinking about it.

    • Comparisons with other creative industries are interesting. Architecture must function for the public in general most of the time and I imagine, unless of course you are designing a skateboard venue or something, that age has little to do with it. A building or a bridge should be all encompassing and non-discriminatory. But not a blouse 🙂

      • Yeah, I agree. But the thing it disturbs me about fashion industry is they are very exclusive. And the images they use to promote is too unrealistic and unhealthy. I suppose we all need fantasy and inspiration. But I am alarmed because the images fashion brands presents nowadays are too much of youth worshipping.

      • It’s very true. But the youth that figureheads the brand don’t have the money to buy it. With age brings wealth usually. In most cases, the image of the designer’s muse and the reality of the customer are so far off it’s ridiculous! Maybe it’s natural because the fashion industry is all about aspiration: reality is for CEOs and money men, not designers…John Galliano was so far removed from reality in his design process he entered a whole different world but that’s another story for another day…

      • Yeah, I went to see Isabella Blow’s exhibition and enjoyed the fantasy very much. I do agree that we need something to dream on even if it is not attainable. But I am concerned about models (like Cara) or image girls (Victoria beckam etc) can hardly be a positive or healthy role models for impressionable young people. Many fashion houses seem to latch on to the newest starlet and cash in. We all have to know that we can’t just live on the images. Even I feel insecure when I see those airbrushed images too often…

  12. Wow, thank you so much for another amazing and awesome post Jackie…
    you have done some very creative and challenging unpacking here…
    for us, your readers and students.
    And as I read through your very thought provoking class discussion and student’s reactions…
    it brought to mind the insightful words of William James, written over 100 years ago…
    but ones which seem to be so aptly “fitting” of the fashion industry today…
    A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.
    ~William James
    PS Received your novel in the mail today–have enjoyed meeting Da and Edward so far 😉

    • I love that quote and how true it is! I’m aware of it in myself. New phrasing can make old ideas sound revolutionary!
      So excited you’re enjoying Silk. I’m honored to have you as a reader!

  13. Your post is so interesting and some reactions are pretty disturbing to me … As a huge magazine reader, I’m aware of these facts and condemn some of them. Although I’m fascinated by the creative process of designers, I’ve never wanted to work INSIDE the fashion industry because of how harsh and unfair it can be (being a fashion documentalist is the perfect compromise for me because I can keep a distance). Anyway, great post !!!

    • Distance is something I have managed to achieve now too whereas ten years ago I couldn’t see the wood for the trees. It makes all the difference. And like you say, it actually makes the study of fashion more interesting and enjoyable. The great advice for writers has always been “Write what you know”. I feel like a voyeur sometimes because I’m turning situations over in my head that at one time would have seemed normal, but really are far from normal, with a view to blogging or inspiring fictional characters in my writing. Soon everyone will be keeping their distance from me! Truman Capote ended up alone and friendless! 🙂

  14. Trying to (psycho) analyze the fashion world is one helluva challenge! You certainly touched upon the most sensitive/thorny subjects that beset the industry. I’m not surprised that ageism occurred in the class; although I have now reached an age that is well beyond the one generally reflected on magazines or the catwalk, I still remember how absurd ‘old’ people seemed 30 years ago and how dismissive all of us, bright young things, were of them… Ah! the arrogance of youth! I wish I knew then what I know now but then I would have missed the wonderful process of ageing. Speaking of which, if I ever get to be 85 I’d like to look like Daphne please!

    • It does seem that while advance are made, albeit slowly,to combat prejudice and discrimination in most situations, the oldies will be still left out in the cold. There should be a seniors coup where they, armed with walking sticks, ear trumpets, and false teeth,run the youth out of town 🙂

  15. Fascinating post! Having worked in fashion myself I am firmly of the opinion that a large part of the industry considers itself to be beyond reproach when it comes to taking responsibility for the effect their actions have on larger society. Designer clothing does not need to just be shown on tall, thin, young, white people – it is a conscious choice that those at the top of the industry have made and which reverberates far beyond the catwalk. X

  16. I’m with you. “It’s not my aesthetic” is a constant refrain in the industry if a company doesn’t want to do the right thing. They’ve been able to get away with it for so long, they see no need to change. It’s just really bad behaviour.

  17. The more I read you the more I get to know you and I have decided that you are a Polymath. Nothing less. To avoid confusion, please add Philosopher to your CV.

    • Aww, MIke, you are too kind. You smooth talker, you. I’ve read your poems and know you have a canny way with words…although, I respond well to flattery, how did you know that? Well shucks, thank you, and now I’ll stroll on off into the night wearing a big smile!

      • My familiarity with words means only that I am better able to choose the apt ones when conveying my opinions and beliefs. Away with you now…

  18. This is RIVETING. I’m fascinated by all of these issues, but particularly the aging issue because it most applies to me. When I was 20 and my mother was 50 (and someone who had been considered very beautiful her whole life) she said to me, “things change. You become invisible when you’re older.” It broke my heart for her, and also put a fear in me…It’s sad to me that we don’t embrace the very women who actually know the most about real beauty (our character) and sexuality (they’ve been around long enough to be experts about their own bodies and most men, too). Maybe one day our culture will catch on. My fingers are crossed. Meanwhile, I’m tweeting this and posting it to the Mollytopia Facebook page. WELL DONE BY YOU.

    • Thank you! I really appreciate your support.
      It is remarkable, isn’t it? The wisdom of age has fallen by the wayside. I have heard other people say a similar think to what your mum said. No one wants to be invisible 😦

  19. Double-like. Omg! Daphne is beautiful. Well, clothed at least. The black issue was so interesting. The curvies are HUH perrty lovely. The ambi is….SCaRY. Love your opening description of the fashion industry. Wears me out just reading about it.

    Great presentation, Jackie.
    Diana

  20. It’s pretty revealing stuff. Interesting to see that age and sexy is the worst “offender”. Could certainly be due to the demographic of the class, but I wonder if there’s other factors involved?

  21. Hung Tran

    Great post, Jackie! God, Jessica Lange looks incredible in the ad, even though I am reluctant to see Marc’s casting decisions as anything but clever publicity stunts (Miley? Kendall Jenner? She’s Kim Kardashian’s half-sister, in case you were wondering). The issue of age x fashion is something I’d like to read more about, but it seems like such a sensitive issue. Perhaps that’s because it reminds people of how old they are in a world where 14-year-olds can book Prada campaigns. Tavi Gevinson said something very interesting, in response to criticism that she was too young to attend fashion shows: “They were talking about how inappropriate it was for someone of my age to go to Fashion Week…but this was coming from an industry that fetishes youth.” Just food for thought.

    P.S. I have to get my hands on a copy of your book!

  22. Thanks Hung! Age in fashion seems to be a conversation that’s gaining attention. I have seen (but still not read) an article about a conversation between Tavi Gevinson and Irish Apfel which must get round to–maybe that’s where she made the above comment. Noticed this series of talks too going on at the London College of Fashion this month: https://medium.com/social-struggle/289e8786f91
    Thanks for considering my book as part of your no doubt extensive reading plan!

  23. There’s so much here to think about. I’m going to offer a hypothesis for why the image of Daphne in a sexually provocative outfit and pose caused so much discomfort, and hope it’s not horribly offensive.

    It seems to me that it’s not age in itself that’s the issue – we have no problem with applauding women who look miraculously youthful whilst actually being well into middle age or older: Demi Moore or Goldie Hawn or Helen Mirren or Julianne Moore (what is it with women with that surname?). Or women who are evidently much older but could be called “elegant” or “dignified” – like Daphne at home. The issue is the juxtaposition of old age and sexuality.

    Perhaps this is because the sex urge is so closely connected to the urge to procreate? We find old age and sexuality as discomfiting as images of toddlers in make-up, and for the same basic reason: they are clearly not of an age where they can reproduce. So the instinct of younger people is of disgust – their brains telling them to stay away, and not to waste their own reproductive bits and pieces on this specimen.

    And that’s all well and as it should be when it comes to children; but what if you’re a grown woman – or man – who’s clearly ageing but still has a healthy sex drive? Maybe that’s why men, who are capable of reproduction until much later in life, have an easier time of this than women. Yet another bit of biological programming where those of us with two Xs come off worst.

    Anyway, it’s a theory. I’m sure you’ve inspired similar levels of reflection and conversation amongst your students.

    • Thanks for your thoughts. I think you’re completely right. It’s not offensive because it contains a lot of truth. That is the bottom line. How dare she look seductive? She has no business looking seductive when she can’t deliver the goods. That’s the grim reality. To think our ability to bear children–such a powerful thing–is what will always make it a man’s world. The ingrained belief is that we are child rearing vessels first and foremost and our sexiness is wrapped up in that. Even the new generations still carry this certainly with them. I think your theory is spot on.

  24. Hi Jackie,
    You discuss important concepts here–sexism is an important concept.
    Thank you so much for following my blog. I received notification today. We bonded over New York you and I. Welcome!
    Janice

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