Saturday, February 16, 2008

Saturday Links

In what is one of the funniest and most spot-on reviews I've ever read, The New York Times' Critical Shopper visits Victoria's Secret.

Annie at Poetic and Chic reviews Dana Thomas' Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster.

Apparently more women (including myself) are forgoing perfume, much to the dismay of the beauty industry, according to the New York Times.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Monday, February 11, 2008

A New Male Ideal?

Last week's New York Times had an interesting article on the changing look of male runway models.

Apparently, the Tyson Beckford body type (chisled muscles, classically handsome) has been replaced by the male version of "heroin chic," 6' tall guys weighing 140 lbs and measuring in with 28 inch waists. It took a while, but men walking the catwalk are now being held to the same freakish standards that female models have experienced during the last 15 years.

It's interesting to think about what kind of implications this trend may have for shifting ideals of male beauty and its effects on regular men. But first let's take a minute to think about how the skinny model trend affected women.

Hollywood takes its cues from the fashion world, and since runway models began shrinking in the mid-1990's, we've seen the average size of actresses, singers and starlets shrink as well. The media that perpetuate the celeb-crazed culture (which is strongest among young women) witnessed this and turned the weight gain and loss of a female celebrity into a news-worthy event. The message that thin=good is only further emphasized in the contrasting national debate over obesity. I think there's some validity to the idea that this constant discussion of women's weight and size has led to an increasing pressure among regular women to lose weight and meet a specific beauty ideal.

There are a number of reasons why we can't expect the this trend among male models to take off in the way that it did among women. The connection between the fashion world and Hollywood men is far weaker, and men's fashion trends change at a glacial pace anyway. Overall, there's far less interest in the fashion world among men than there is among women. And I think it's generally acknowledged that men are judged less on the basis of their looks than women are, giving them less incentive to starve to fit a certain ideal.

But there's a chance that this trend could have a trickle-down effect and have some permanence. Men connected to the fashion world are already feeling pressure to lose weight to fit the most stylish clothes (Karl Lagerfeld famously lost nearly 100 lbs in order to fit into a Hedi Slimane suit). I guess we'll just have to wait and see if regular guys across America ditch their oversized sweatshirts baggy cargo pants in favor of similar slimmer styles.