Finally finishing up my report from the Fashion in Feminism talk at the V&A for The Women’s Room, which included much discussion of body diversity, and it reminded me of this recent campaign from MAC (below). I already love me some MAC, not just for its brilliantly coloured lipsticks, but because it puts “unconventional” beauties front and centre in its advertising. Of course, there are plenty of model-pix amongst its campaigns (and column-inch fodder like Nicki Minaj) but it’s also giving space to inspiring women like Beth Ditto and Iris Apfel, and in a sea of identikit airbrushed beauty shots, that’s not nothing.
Celebrating a proudly muscular female form seems different from the image industries’ usual body diversity tactics: “Celeb X flaunts her curves” (read: has boobs) or Magazine X “celebrates the body” (read: fetishistic pictures of naked/scantily clad plus-size model). I wonder if it’s an effect of the incredible bodies vaunted by the “women’s Olympics”, that consumers and brands alike are more willing to admire a body that is visibly strong: Body as machine, not decoration.
Kathryn Ferguson, a film-maker who spoke at the Fashion in Feminism talk, pointed to this film, Elisha Smith Leverock’s I Want Muscle, as new example of strong and empowered women in (and on) film. The film has been nominated for the Design Museum’s Designs Of The Year award. Although the visuals (and slightly pornalike soundtrack) are a bit fetishy, they contrast nicely with bodybuilder Kizzy Vaines’ assessment of the beauty of her hard-won, sculptured body. Check it out above.