Tuesday, 20 December 2011


It’s time I posted something about women again.  In fact it's time I posted something again.  It's not that I've not been writing, but I've been posting somewhere else and forgetting to pop in here.

I am always amazed at the way women mess around with their looks.  I was looking at Jane Fonda on her new video (I just wanted to see whether I could loosen myself up a bit with a move or two) and thinking a) that she looks great at her age (129), but b) that she was a completely different woman from the one in Barbarella who helped me through puberty.

Granny Fonda                         Barbarella

In fact, although she has admitted to plastic surgery, I thought she was rather less changed than some.  Her eyes were slightly less ingénue and her cheekbones can now withstand a tailgate at 30mph and I don’t suppose she has frowned in a long while, but she looks better than some victims beneficiaries of surgery and a whole lot better than most women her age.  I expect you all remember Jocelyn Wildenstein, who eventually reversed her surgery after scaring people with her cat-like ex-boxer look.  But why did she do it in the first place?
As if to confirm this thought, I’ve just been watching Anna Friel in a new TV drama.  When she first appeared on TV she was a big hit because of her tiny elfin looks.  She had some minor film success and then went to Hollywood.

Judging by her looks now, she asked to be cut and pasted to look like a latter-day Kathleen Turner.  Is this what you have to do to succeed in Hollywood?  She isn’t quite as bad as Wildanimalstein, but there’s definitely something chimeric there, possibly a bit of trout and bit of panther.
I know many (maybe most) actresses have had a bit of work done here and there, but surely eventually they look far worse than they did when they thought they were beginning to lose their looks.  Click on the celeb plastic surgery sites and you’ll see what I mean.  Anyway, this post isn’t about plastic surgery exactly.  Jane Fonda, to her credit, has said she regrets what she had done and, as I say, doesn’t look that different now.  But I am puzzled by what women seem to think is beauty.  Is Jane what women aspire to?  Or is it Kathleen Turner?
So who does tells women what they should look like?  Why exactly did Anna Friel change her looks when she got to Hollywood?  Is it some sort of peer pressure?  I can’t believe it’s what men have told her they want.  I, at least, find that high cheek boned, slitty eyed, puffy lipped look rather unpleasant (except in Wladimir Klitschko obviously) and will tell her to change herself back the next time I sit next to her on the bus.

But the other news in my newspaper today (you can tell there’s a certain Euro and recession fatigue and a certain lack of news this side of Christmas) was about Cheryl Cole (she who has been meeting her estranged husband, Katie Price style, in secret)(oh, didn’t you know that?!)(what, you didn’t know about Katie Price either?!!!)(what newspapers do you read then?) who has put on weight.  Yes, hold the front page, I really mean it, never mind France going bankrupt and Afghanistan descending into civil war, a little known pixie who belonged to a less well known pop group once and whose speech is entirely indecipherable until you’ve drunk at least 3 pints of Newcastle Brown, and is still married (I think) to a moderately well-known footballer, has actually put on weight.  Well, 7lbs anyway.  She now strains the scales at 8 stone, that’s just over 50kgs, or about the same as a carrier bag of shopping from Tesco.  Here’s what she had to say about this phenomena, 'the curves are back, well and truly. I’ve got my boobs and bum back and, yeah, I like it. I think it’s sexy.’  Well, who’s going to argue that boobs and bums can be sexy, but I wonder where she put all that avoirdupois.  What do you reckon – it’s that hair, isn’t it?  But, more to the point, why does she have to have pounds on her boobs and bum?  There’s something here about self-esteem and being accepted by friends, isn’t there.  Cheryl clearly isn’t happy unless she weighs at least 8 stone (although I expect she would be miserable again if she ever weighed 8½ stone?)   Can it really just be advertising and the pressure of cover girl images that sets the standard? 
The next important earth-shattering story that caught my eye was about Abbey Crouch, the internationally-might be someone I’ve heard of and wife of a footballer quite a lot of people have heard of, a guest once on the Richard and Judy Show and, according to unconfirmed rumours, interested in appearing in I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here model.  She has been outraged at suggestions that her duck-like mouth has been in anyway enhanced.  Should I accept her denials?  Should I remain sceptical?  Is this something I’m really going to nudge the sides of my friends about down the Crown and Cushion?  Why is she so upset about it though?  Has she always wanted to change the shape of her kisser and is she now annoyed people are commenting on it before she’s got round to having the work done?  Maybe she’s worried she might be thought of as trying too hard to be one of the girls?  Do her friends and model rivals keep on at her to have some work done?  Is she worried that she might soon have to?  Is she really under so much pressure from all the standard-setting model-seeking magazines?  Has she actually had the work done?  Why is she so uptight about it then?  Have you Googled her yet to see who she is?  Am I bov vered?  Why am I asking all these footling questions? 
But then I spotted this pic.  Notice anything about it?  I've been staring at it on my bedroom wall for ages and there is something about it.  Yes, the bodies don’t actually exist.  They’re all one CGI image with different heads grafted on.  Now, is this a humiliation to women or is it the answer to all their prayers?  Is this going to be another succession of questions?  Do they gnash their teeth (do models’ personal trainers allow them to do things like that?) that some programmer’s dream woman is somehow better looking than they are?  I think I would be totally offended if a magazine told me that they were going to use my face because I’m famous (this is a small specialised circle of cognoscenti I’m referring to, you understand), but were going to use a virtual body because it looks better than mine.  Apart from the impossibility of creating on a computer a better-looking body than mine, the whole editorial thought process would insult me.  Or should I think that I can now keep my career forever and still gorge myself on black forest gateaux lattes and lardy cake without worrying about the appearance of anything below my neck?
Anyway, it does make a mockery of the whole model thing and surely must cast doubts on the ideals models have to aspire to, if only their faces are going to be used in future.  And doesn’t it somehow make a mockery of modelling bikinis, if the only bit of you that’s shown is your face?  Maybe we should be less fussy now too about digitally altered images of models?  Actually, do we need models?  I guess all the interchangeable heads are on file somewhere.  Maybe now the models will all be less neurotic about their sticky out bits and we can get more stuff into our newspapers about disasters and things.
I might go back into swimwear modelling myself too actually.  All I have to do is send in my photograph, choose the body I want to attach it to, and have the photoshop boys change my hair colour, skin tone, skin quality, etc (and maybe correct the angle of my ears and the shape of my eyes a bit).  Meanwhile I can just sit here and get on with this new packet of Jammy Dodgers.  Great! 

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