The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

Posts Tagged ‘Fashion’

Degradation of women is not the new black

Posted by Cate on January 22, 2010

I was disgusted to read last night about the new Roger David t shirts that are being sold.

Pics and discovery of these t shirts from here

The t shirts are a new range called “Blood is the new black”. Gagging women, sexual violence, degradation…I mean seriously how can these things be depicted as acceptable themes in fashion?  Many of us have long contended that there are sexism and misogny in fashion (see American Apparel’s use of retail staff semi naked in their ads) but this takes things to a new level. I have to wonder who had the great idea of featuring degrading, dehumanising photographs of women on these t shirts. It’s not edgy, it’s not cool, it’s not provocative, it’s simply ridiculous and shows a deep contempt for women. It suggests that violence against women is something which should be sexualised and viewed by a mainstream audience. The name alone, is suggesting that blood (and violence) is in fashion. This is not ok.

These images present the message  that it’s ok to present women as restained, dehumanised, blind folded, gagged, mute and blind, their helplessness a  source of sexual pleasure.

On the Roger David facebook group, the owner states:

Blood Is The New Black offers independent artists the opportunity the display their work and points of views on one of the most common threads in society, the T-shirt. As with any of “the arts,” discussion, discourse and debate is often sparked, due to unique and controversial ideas. Art is meant to inspire and educate, and the meaning and interpretation is left in the hands of the viewer – we are here to inspire ideas, not mediate or control them.

The artist Dan Monick believes there is little to no meaning behind the shot. “She was wearing a headband and it started to slide down her face and she bit it. The shot is a snapshot from me and Annie hanging out, it is not a premeditated image. I took 3 frames. If I had put any meaning behind the image it’s more about the messed up aspects of Hollywood silencing individuality and unique voice. It’s about Hollywood silencing the human.”

Err… nice attempt at saving face hiding behind the excuse that it’s all about ‘art’.  Sounds more like a deliberate ploy to get in the media with some offensive pics. I’ll be interested to see if anyone buys the t shirts, I’d hate  to think of a friend, male relative, or young person thinking such t shirts are acceptable because they are created by an artist.  Blood will never be the new black. Sexual violence should never be in fashion. Ever.

Write to Roger David here to show your disgust.


Posted in art, Fashion, Sex Crimes, sexual assault | Tagged: , , , , | 10 Comments »

Your inner sexpot consumer

Posted by Nic Heath on June 24, 2009


american apparel

The image accompanying The Age article

A couple of Sundays ago The Age website featured “Cheeky ad campaign or sexploitation?” – an article about “a popular clothes retailer using highly sexualised images of young women – many of them company staff ” in its advertising.


There are tons of photos of women in provocative poses on the Models page of the American Apparel site. I’m not arguing for the complete removal of sexual provocation from advertising images – sex has a place in the public arena – however some of the photos have no discernible relevance to American Apparel products. In this slideshow, for instance, Hannah Lee is pictured topless, with no American Apparel clothing in frame. Sunday’s Age article describes Hannah as ‘very young’ and the pictures ‘all provocative poses and barely covered breasts.’

The DIY aesthetic of many of the photos – taken in front of door frames, on couches, but mostly on white-sheeted beds – gives the viewer a sense of the voyeur. The many pictures of Natasha look like they were taken by a lover. Sophia, on all fours, arches her back and cocks her hips. Veronica, looking over her shoulder towards the camera, juts out her buttocks. Many of the other photos stick with this soft-porn script.

It is not hard to work out why businesses such as American Apparel opt for overtly sexual images to advertise their product. As Daily Finance points out, this strategy has been very effective for Calvin Klein in the past. “Every year or so, Calvin Klein manufactures a fresh “controversy” with a button-pressing, taste-defying ad campaign calculated to generate stories on the evening news without quite crossing the line into outright indecency of the sort that would provoke the authorities.”

I followed the Daily Finance article to this early incarnation of teenage sexual innuendo as a marketing strategy, when Brooke Shields reminds us nothing comes between her and her Calvin Kleins.

Do these images constitute the “caricatures of female hotness” identified by Ariel Levy? Last year the Herald Sun reported that many women “felt the way they were portrayed in advertising and marketing harmed their ability to be taken seriously in the workplace.” Citing the results of a survey conducted by Splash Consulting Group, the article said “most of the 500 women surveyed said they would go out of their way to boycott a product or service if they were offended by an advertisement for it.”

While the sexualisation of women in advertising uses women as commodities, as Monica Dux and Zora Simic point out in The Great Feminist Denial, young women ‘make ideal consumers’. Will women use their buying power to render obsolete exploitative advertising?

Posted in Media Watch, Watching The Ad Breaks | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

Guess How Old I Am?

Posted by Cate on December 2, 2008

French Vogue’s most recent edition featured something striking. There is an article which  features a series of pictures with the same model in different ages, everything done with make-up and lighting. It really shows you how images of women can be manipulated…




Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Blog Watch, body image, Fashion, Media Watch | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Weird Body Anxiety Products

Posted by Mel Campbell on November 21, 2008

(Cate’s previous post about bizarre ‘helpful’ fashions has inspired me to post this extended riff on the October instalment of the pop-culture column I write for jmag. In the course of researching this column, I trawl through various weird products and trends off the internet.)

Coined in the wake of Janet Jackson’s infamous Superbowl boob-flash, the term “wardrobe malfunction” now refers to the indignity and public humiliation we face if our clothes go “wrong”. But some supposedly helpful products are less about preventing wardrobe malfunctions than making money from women’s anxiety about their bodies.

This is the entire rhetoric of the “fashion problems” that are endlessly discussed in magazines. Rather than questioning commonsensical ideas of how a woman should look, move through space, and invite or repel the gaze of others, we spend money on unnecessary – and sometimes uncomfortable – products simply to help us feel okay about ourselves while we conform to those ideas.

It’s such a seductive industry. I wish I could get back all the money I’ve spent over the years on trying out a new trend in tights, or a supposedly revolutionary bra technology, to see if it helps me feel better about the way I look. Still, I would not spend any money at all on the following retarded products: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in body image, Fashion | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

Deep breath, arms in

Posted by Cate on November 21, 2008

In case you haven’t got enough body image problems, here’s one from the world of the ridiculous…

Do you have upper arms? Yes, me too. Apparently we need help. According to the information I have before me:

For decades, women have hidden this trouble spot under baggy blouses and oversized blazers, cringing at the thought of clingy tops or, GASP, sleeveless tanks. Well, now you can bid farewell to dowdy sweatshirts and kiss your husband’s old polos goodbye!

Our saviours in America, Jax & Jewels Inc. are proud to present FLABuLESS, the first-ever arm shapewear for real women! Yes you read right, the product is called Flabuless! Here’s some pictures:



Funnily enough, the before and afters don’t look all that much different to me. girl1_2

I’m not sure how they’d go with a strappy summer dress, but the idea of a compression garment for arms is kinda hideous. Compression garments (aka foundation garments) contain mega strong elastic (and perhaps other materials of a magic capcity) to effectively contain and reshape bits of flesh that you’d like flatter and smaller. Apparently they were a huge hit in the recent Spring Racing Festival under slinky dresses where you don’t want to show lines. This is one thing, but when they are used to reshape your body altogether so you fit into smaller clothes, there’s something about it that’s a little sinister.

I got third degree burns on my right arm and hand quite a few years ago. I ended up having to wear a compression garment to help with scarring. Those things are thick, hot and uncomfortable. They also restrict your mobility.

There’s something about the idea that women’s body are unruly if they are curvy and need to be ‘held in’ and ‘contained’ (perhaps as some kind of punishment for not fitting the idea of the body beautiful?) that I find disturbing. Why are curves and flesh so bad to many fashion trends? What if ‘race wearing’ garments (and the like) oh I don’t know, came in a variety of cuts and sizes for different shapes? What if designers started making women’s shirts and dresses to accomodate different upper arm sizes. Seriously, can you imagine a guy wearing arm compressions?

Posted in body image, Fashion | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

The Unbearable Tightness Of Corset

Posted by Mel Campbell on October 6, 2008

(Image: Daily Telegraph)

I just read a Daily Telegraph story about how Australian model Abbey Lee Kershaw fainted shortly after leaving the runway in an Alexander McQueen show at Paris Fashion Week. The cause: an incredibly tight corset. Look at her in the picture, poor duck: she looks absolutely miserable. But the kicker was this little hyperlink:

Yeah, I bet Abbey Lee felt pretty stupid with the air supply to her brain cut off! As she tottered off the runway and keeled over, she was probably saying something like: “LUK AT ME IN DIS KORSUT, I’Z ALLAGAYTA, RAH!”

There seems to be so much schadenfreude in watching models come to grief and calling them “stupid”. Perhaps it’s a way of expressing our jealousy at not being as thin, young, poised and beautiful – after all, being smart is something that depends on none of these things. But nobody seems to be pointing fingers at the designers who create clothes so uncomfortable that even people whose job it is to wear them for only a minute at a time can’t help falling over or fainting. Annoyingly in this industry of artifice and hyperbole, being known as “the designer whose corset made a model faint” will likely add to McQueen’s reputation for creating ‘challenging’ fashion.

Posted in Fashion, Media Watch | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

Forget Sexualising Teens, Now You Can Sexualise Your Newborn!

Posted by Clem Bastow on September 12, 2008

While I usually look askance, to a certain extent, at the “sexualising our kids” debate (a lot of it is Australian Family Association-led hot air), there are times when I have to agree to file things in the “yep, that’s fucked up” file – like Heelarious’ high heels for babies, for example:

They sold their first shoes 14 weeks ago and haven’t looked back. “Oh yeah, it draws attention,” Jenelle Kulaas said. “People see them and are like, ‘Those are hilarious’.”

The booties are only made for children up to 6 months old, and the heel is squishy for safety reasons.

The shoes are the brainchild of Washington woman Britta Bacon, who thought up the idea and the brand name, “Heelarious” on her daughter’s fourth birthday.

The shoes are described as “extremely funny, completely soft shoes for babies 0-6 months designed to look like high heels.”

“That’s kind of all I could think about at her birthday party and came home and registered the website, and called Hayden,” Bacon said.

Supporters of this incredibly naff product will no doubt cry “It’s a joke, get a sense of humour!” (already boxes of the booties are being shipped to the Emmys to include in goodie bags, evidently). But I fail to see the gag.

Of all fashion and clothing items, one could argue that the high heel is – along with perhaps the corset and, if you want to go there, the bra – one of the most contentious points in discussions of gender conditioning and the perceived oppression of women. Added to that is the fact that, really, high heels are designed with sex appeal in mind and you have one unbelievably icky proposition. It’s not heelarious at all, really.

Posted in Family, Fashion, Media Watch | Tagged: , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Can Jennifer Hawkins Help You Find The Perfect Bikini? Not If You Aren’t A Size 8 To 16

Posted by Clem Bastow on July 29, 2008

Former Miss Universe and TV presenter Jennifer Hawkins has surprised few by taking the tried and true career route of celebrity fashion designer, launching a swimwear range in collaboration with Myer, called Cozi. At first, Hawko’s reasons for starting the line seemed promising:

Hawkins said she had kept her girlfriends in mind when designing the range and believed that the sizes and styles in the range catered for all Australian women.

Sounds good, but then, not so much:

“I’ve got a girlfriend and she’s tiny and she wanted a bit of padding in there and I’ve got another girlfriend with a really big bust and no butt and she wanted something that would make her boobs understated and her booty a bit bigger. There’s something in there for everyone.”


The swimwear range, which includes bikinis and one-pieces in a variety of colours and patterns in sizes 8 to 16, features kaftans and cover-ups and will sold exclusively in Myer stores.

I appreciate that swimwear isn’t the world’s most confidence-inspiring clothing item, but there’s something about the way Hawkins describes her line that worries me – I can see she’s going for a ‘make yourself feel beautiful’ angle, but by creating a line of bathers that shrinks and swells and pads and prods, it says, very subtly, “You aren’t beautiful until you’ve corrected all those annoying body faults with the help of my swimwear!”

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in body image, Celebrity, Fashion, Media Watch | Tagged: , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

She Works Hard For The Money.

Posted by Cate on July 25, 2008

I’m wondering what Dawn Chorus readers think of this picture which appeared in a Beth Ditto photoshoot for Nylon Magazine, June 2008, page 168:

Blogger Thread Bared has plenty to critique about the editorial including the comment:

It’s about the woman who may or may not be a real housekeeper at the motel at which this editorial was photographed, sitting on the edge of the bed with a handful of cards and gazing at Ditto with a weary but guarded expression. In the story that coalesces for me, studying this photograph, she has just been forced to play cards with a guest — not because she wants to, but because she could lose her job if she doesn’t. Nor does the game even feel like a break from her domestic labor; this sort of affective labor is no less taxing. In her mind (in the story I imagine about this editorial), she calculates how much longer she’ll have to stay and clean in order to meet her day’s quota

It’s certainly food for thought, particularly as Beth Ditto is an outspoken fatshionista, feminist, queer activitist and rolemodel for many. She writes an advice column for The Guardian newspaper in the UK on tops as diverse as vegetarianism, feminism, bisexuality, coming out, gay identities and fashion.

I’d like to think she’d have been rather disappointed with the pic.

Posted in Celebrity, Fashion, Media Watch | Tagged: , , | 11 Comments »

To Trash Or Treasure?

Posted by Cate on July 23, 2008

I’ve recently heard about a relatively new phenomenon: “trashing your wedding dress“. The idea is that the bride (and very occasionally the groom) gets arty snaps taken of them in their wedding dress rolling in mud, submerged in water (via Infinity Studios), ripping, or even burning their dress (via AltF Photography).

I originally thought the trashing might be some kind of ‘farewell, good riddance at the end of a bad marriage, but according to Adam Cavanagh, of Cavanagh Photography,

“the idea behind it is you are committed to your husband, you are not going to get married again and this is a symbol of committed you are going to be.”

It’s based on the premise that your wedding dress is the most expensive dress you’ll ever own and rather than have it sit mouldering in a storage cupboard you can pop it on for a second wearing and get photographs of your sexy self rolling around getting your dress dirty.

I like the idea but why are so many of the shots all about the woman? And if marriage is meant to be not just about the wedding and the dress, why is it the focal point of attention yet again? And why does the Age’s video of a photo shoot have to include the bride flashing her undies to the world? Depictions of one’s true self or simply photos sexed up by a wedding industry that have found another way to make money? Getting photos on the beach is hardly new and there’s a whole industry in ‘alternative’ weddings. Is it better to donate your dress to charity to make someone’s day special who can’t afford anything nearly so lavish?

Personally, I don’t see why you can’t incorporate some of these ideas into your wedding day pics anyway. Maybe not the getting the dress filthy aspects (unless there’s a bout of vomiting after too many red wines) but the idea of fun goddamit! Wedding commemoration doesn’t have to be limited to photos of people standing in formation and sickening dvds set to acoustic music. Why can’t your wedding depict who you are (who you both are-since there’s two people in a marriage) and your own style without the bucks? I say do it yourself with a bunch of friends and a big bottle of vodka. And if you’re short for inspiration, the UK times has some DIY ideas of how you can ‘trash’ your dress ( I can imagine some of these would go down very well after a few beverages when you leave the wedding to start the real celebrating):

Slide down a big, twirly slide in a children’s playground.

Climb a photogenic tree and swing from the branches.

Get your new husband or, if you are feeling brave, the bridesmaids and pageboys to spray-paint your dress.

Run through a field of heather, mud, corn…

Get a sloppy DVD and a takeaway, then let the chardonnay do the work during a night on the sofa.

Go on all the rides at a country fête, especially the rotating swings, the Ferris wheel and the merry-go-round.

Sure beats getting your photos taken on the steps of Parliament house or in front of a tram.

Edit: Even though I wrote this article a few hours ago, I still feel rather horrified by the photo of the burning bride. It brings a really strong reaction in me. I can’t stop thinking about Bride Burning and honour killing in India and South Asia. Hardly things I’d want to associate with my wedding dress.

Posted in Fashion, Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 31 Comments »