Young people should dress according to the trends, while old people belong in long skirts and cardigans. if you believe that, I hate to break it to you, but you’ve been duped. Hunny, that whole age-appropriate dressing standard is all just social construct. Sadly, many people become victims of it and subscribe to that belief.
Case in point: Former British Vogue EIC Alexa Schulman wrote a piece for The Daily Mail titled “I’m sorry Helena Christensen, you ARE too old to wear that.” If you’re already pissed off by that title, brace yourself. Frankly, the amount of BS in the article is ridiculous.
Apparently, Alexa finds it hard to believe that Helena Christensen, “usually the most stylishly understated of the supermodels,” who, according to her, “always looked utterly scrumptious… at the peak of her career,” would come to Gigi Hadid’s 24th birthday party “in a tacky, black lace bustier.
Her theories for Helena’s apparent “repulsive” choice include: 1) “she just panicked, as you do, when faced with a themed party and thought that turning up as the madam in a one-horse town would fit the bill.” and 2) she did it to show “she’s not past it.” This, she believes, is more likely. “She’s not going gentle into any good night when it comes to getting her share of the paparazzi’s attention. It’s understandable but unwise,” she said.
She then delves deep into why she found Helena’s clothing choice deeply upsetting. “While men can receive sex symbol status until they are in their box, for women it’s more complicated. As a society, we are frightened of sexuality that doesn’t come accompanied by fertility.” Adding, “When women’s bodies no longer serve any child-bearing purpose, we find flaunting them disturbing and slightly tragic. I don’t claim that this is fair. But it’s true.”
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relegated toad of fashion journalism Alex Shulman was so repulsed by Helena's bustier choice, she just dribbled out an article for the Daily Mail claiming, "When women's bodies no longer serve any child-bearing purpose, we find flaunting them disturbing and slightly tragic" and Helena should "call time" on dressing like this… (now swipe) thank god you don't have the platform you once did so your primitive rhetoric can't permeate the minds of women, regardless of their age.
Um, excuse me, what? Okay first of all, can we agree that just because people are capable of acknowledging an ugly truth, doesn’t mean they’re better human beings? I mean, if they are aware of it but still perpetuate it, I believe it actually makes them worse. The exhausting excuse of “that’s just life” or “that’s just how it is” is honestly f*cking infuriating. Just because we have gotten used to a kind of thinking, doesn’t mean we should simply accept them. Please, think about that.
Now, let’s talk about the root of her belief: beyond ageism, it was obviously hinged on sexism. Helena isn’t the first one to be told to “dress her age.” While the criticism practically doesn’t exist for men, celebrities like Mariah Carey and Madonna have always been the subject of it. So what’s the difference between Johnny Depp who still dresses hip, but complimented for it, and Helena who also dresses hip but bashed for it? Aside from the fact that culture glorifies older men, it points to the sad truth that in society, women are only really seen as sexual objects. Men’s Fitness’ style and grooming editor Barret Wertz further tells Mashable, “For most guys age-appropriate dressing is more about the actual clothing rather than the body underneath the clothing.” He adds that sadly in society, “Women are much more objectified whereas men are typically still displayed as powerful, regardless of the level of sexuality portrayed. This teaches young people the long-lasting, and hard to break gender stereotypes of men in control and women as sexual objects.”
Alexa highlights this as she concludes her sh*tty article by imparting sh*tty advice she said was given to her “years back by an older woman.” It goes something like this: By the time women reach 50, they must have already learnt how to be a good conversationalist. “Before that, [they] can just flirt.”
Meaning, all her life, a woman’s greatest asset is her appeal and sexuality. After that, she’s left with nothing. And so, her being a “good conversationalist” is the only thing that will make her relevant, if at all. Imagine clinging to that belief. Oh god. I feel sorry for the women around Alexa Schulman.
Art by Tricia Guevara
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