The Age of the Girl

I watched the movie Magic Mike recently. It was about what I expected, with two exceptions: a great, campy performance from Matthew McConaughey and a surprisingly good one from Cody Horn in the role of the potential girlfriend who waits for Magic Mike (Channing Tatum) to get tired of the party lifestyle that apparently goes along with being a male stripper.

Anyway, male strippers: a strange cultural phenomenon. Toned bodies, yes, but what’s with the over-the-top costumes, gyrations and thrusting? Is this what women want on a night out with the girlfriends in 2012?

It turns out that, yes, there is still a demand: for some women, going out with the girls means dressing up, getting drunk, and squealing as men caress themselves and thrust their hips in a parody of lust. And I just don’t get it.

Channing Tatum has a pretty good explanation:

Men go to strip clubs for a pretty simple reason. It’s a carnal, visual thing. The point of male stripping is to bring women onstage and embarrass them so their friends can cheer them on. Women go to watch their friends’ faces turn red and to have a night of camaraderie with their girlfriends. — Channing Tatum on IMDB

Makes sense. Though I can have a night of camaraderie with my girlfriends in pleasanter surroundings. And there is something about the behaviour that goes with the wild girls’ night out. It’s a kind of playacting, I think, and perhaps has its origins in an old-fashioned male view of sexuality, where women’s attitudes and needs are thought to be identical to men’s, but why do so many women conform to this view?

Looking at the groups of women out on the town for hen parties or other kinds of girls’ nights out, I see certain similarities: a lot of skin on display; skirts too short to be flattering (let’s not even think about striving for elegance); shoes too high for comfort or stability. But this seems to be suitable costuming for the activity. And then you must drink, preferably shots.

The whole shots phenomenon happened after the days when my social life included drinking too much, so I don’t understand it.  I was recently at our local — the Raven, a reasonable kind of neighbourhood pub — where I idly perused the list of shots (“4 for $15”). There were a lot, all variations on the theme of combinations of sweet liqueurs. And then there were the names. The ones that jumped out at me were The Nymphomaniac, The Slippery Nipple, and The Blow Job. No … really? I mean, really? That’s pretty crass. Assuming you actually want the drink, how do you even ask for one of these?

Suddenly, I was in a nightmare universe where all the awful pictures of breast-augmented, reality-TV starlets, the “Who Wore it Better?” comparisons in In Touch (much thigh and boob, the hooker heels), and the Cosmopolitan articles that are variations on the theme of learn-about-the-three-top-things-you-can-do-in-bed-to-keep-him-happy, threatened to overwhelm me. I realized that we are in The Age of the Girl. Where The Girl is a giggly, intoxicated airhead with a body-conscious dress and a propensity for the one night hookup with her male (tanned, toned, cologne-wearing) counterpart. It sounds awfully pompous to talk about the cheapening and distortion of sexuality, so I will just say that I hope the pendulum swings back soon. I look forward to The Age of the Woman.


Burning fashion questions


I am subscribed to an email newsletter from the fashion-and-beauty magazine LouLou (no idea how I got signed up; perhaps a friend thought I needed some help).

I occasionally look at the newsletters, but usually find the fashion advice incomprehensible and the “looks” recommended mystifying, so I view them as more for amusement value than useful information.

Here is an example: the answer to the question I know you are asking yourselves: How do I wear harem pants to my holiday party without emphasizing my bust?

It’s fortunate that the answer (to this and other burning questions) is there, complete with shopping details.

The answer is basically “Wear a simple top [now why didn’t I think of that?] and [of course] a pair of killer heels to elongate your silhouette.”

Breasts, III

or, Breasts at the 2009 Oscars

In the category of Cups Running Over

SJPNo contest: Sara Jessica Parker. It appears to be such a difficult thing to get a strapless dress to fit properly. Actually, it depended on the angle: sometimes it just looked eye-opening, but at other times there was definitely a problem with spilling over. Too pushed up, Posh-style.

Where Are my Breasts Supposed to Go, Again?GH

Goldie Hawn, of course. A dress only approximately fitted to her body and falling too low on her chest allowed her breasts to escape over the top, under her arms, everywhere except the accepted place.

JAThe Strapless Dress That Fits

Jennifer Aniston. Elegant, not too revealing, nothing out of place!

Special Award

SLAnd a special Lifetime Achievement Award for Breasts goes to Sophia Loren. Although these days the rest of her is a noble Roman ruin (albeit with a remarkably timeless appearance from a distance), those famous breasts remain apparently youthful and nicely positioned in her Oscars dress.

Breasts, II

As an adolescent girl, I passionately envied those with large breasts. Why? I suppose my mind was saturated with media images of the desirable female body, combined with what schoolboys apparently fantasized over. Perhaps if silicone implants had been as available then as they are now I would have found some way to get them. As it is, I have had to go through life with adequate but never eye-catching breasts. Pregnancy and, even more so, breast-feeding have given me a taste of what the well-endowed experience but otherwise I have remained, contented but not exultant, in the world of the B cup.

Of course, as I get older the advantages are more obvious.

When I was growing up in Britain, I remember reading an article by a serious reviewer predicting the future success of movie actresses Julie Christie and Sarah Miles. The article stated that, although they were both very good actresses, Christie would be the more successful because Miles was “flat-chested.” This had the weight of authority — it was not a newspaper that had a Page 3 pinup — and was a pronouncement of awful finality.

When I first came to Canada, I started going to a gym. In the changing rooms and the showers, I was amazed to see the variety of women’s bodies and that women whose bodies did not fit what I considered the norm were nonchalant about displaying them. After I got over the initial surprise, I was filled with a rush of love for humanity in all its diversity. Celebrating the natural body became part of my feminist beliefs. I looked back with pity on that narrow-minded, old-fashioned movie reviewer.

Today’s Sarah Miles is Keira Knightley: her slight and delicate figure is exquisitely alluring in a wet camisole in Atonement and it does not seem to have held her back in her career. (Actually, Sarah Miles seems to have done OK, too.)

Breasts, I

The subject today is breasts. (That should get the stats up a bit.) I’m inspired to muse on this fascinating part of the female anatomy by Mrs. Victoria Beckham, who visited Vancouver recently with her Spice sisters to kick off their reunion tour. posh.jpgPosh has made the unnaturally pushed-up breast fashionable again. She is rarely seen with her bosom in a relaxed position. Perhaps surgical intervention means that the gravity-defying globe is her new natural position?

That refusal to accept gravity was popular in the seventeenth century, and was achieved by a corset that pushed the breasts up. They were then lightly covered by a flimsy fringe of lace atop the overdress. Very fetching, but it looks rather uncomfortable. How strange that we should have been through an entire feminist revolution where women passionately demonstrated the desire to get away from those kinds of constraints — and now a woman who has enormous amounts of money and is inevitably a role model for young girls chooses this look.