What is it?
An article which makes use of a series of engaging visuals to highlight how each decade since the turn of the twentieth century and the advent of consumer culture, has been subject to a particular female body ideal. The fact that this is something which shifts over time highlights its nature as a social and cultural construction formed according to the dominant discourses of the decade that the public imaginary is exposed to. The shifting nature of these constructions additionally highlights how such ideals are essentially unachievable as even if this standards are largely reached, the dynamics of aspiration means that it will soon shift into something else.
Who wrote it?
This article was written by Nicola Hughes – a collaborator on the website ‘Lost at E-Minor’. ‘Lost at E-Minor’ is an ‘Australian-based culture site that spotlights inspiring creativity and offbeat ideas from around the world and is written by cultural insiders’. As a website that has been on my radar for a while, it’s low-brow peripheral culture focus has proved a valuable research resource.
How does it inform my Research Process?
Despite widespread acknowledgement that there has been a postmodern shift in culture, fashion is an industry which is still locked into a self/other binary thought structure epitomised by the fast fashion model which universalises a meta-narrative of ‘fashion’ each season. As fashion currently stands you are either in or out, a divide primarily based on wealth and appearance. As this series of visuals makes incredibly clear, this divide is about more than clothes. Instead ‘Fashion’ encompasses clothing assimilated with a particular standard of beauty. This is an ideal, women are conditioned to aspire to, but rarely reach, resulting in feelings of exclusion and low self worth on the basis of this largely inevitable failure. Integrating my own perspective into this research, this is something contemporary fashion discourses provoke in me on almost a daily basis, even when my research background means that i understand how this is nothing more than a construction. More significantly I have a sister with cerebral palsy, who despite her great looks and amazing fashion sense, will never ascribe to this ideal; a barrier she has dealt with her entire life which constructs her as ‘abnormal’. It is therefore critical to provide discourses in the fashion industry which challenge and destabilise these understandings, which exclude the majority and contribute to major social problems such as mental health.
My FMP brand concept is intended to function as a postmodern discourse within the realm of fashion, through approaching each consumer on the basis of their individuality and granting them the power to construct their own ‘fashion’. Democratising fashion in this way will challenge the metanarrative of ‘beauty’ and contribute to a more inclusive society where individuals are not demonised or held back in any way on the basis of their ‘identities’.