“We had to break through the whole image of woman and we had to define ourselves as people; and then we had to begin a process that’s still not finished, of restructuring institutions so that women could be people.” - Betty Friedan in “Particular Passions: Talks with Women Who Shaped our Times.”
Betty Friedan launched the contemporary modern women’s movement when her book, The Feminine Mystique, published fifty years ago exploded the myth of the happy homemaker. This one book galvanized women to mobilize at a grass roots level to help women become what they had the potential to be.
Fashion Week on the other hand, delivers an equally powerful message: how women should look. Fashion Week is a road show produced twice yearly that utterly dazzles with a series of hourly blockbuster events. The stunning and not so stunning designs, the excitement, the buzz, the anticipation, the frenzy is broadcast by the media around the world.
What one see are gorgeous clothes, on lanky young models, so tall, so young and so beautiful. They have neither breasts, nor hips, or backsides, and their skin is flawless. They look and move like zombies, staring out from vacant eyes. What you are meant to see, is just the clothes and you do. I was there for the first time and I was spellbound. The pull to look as these young models do is powerful not rational.
Can we integrate how we are told to look with who we can be? Two messages: one delivered to the eye, one delivered to the mind. Can they ever be integrated?