Tuesday 13 October 2009

The Incredible Shrinking Spice: third style column for Morning Star

I'm working on a few posts right now, but in the meantime, here's the third instalment of my style column for Morning Star. Hope you enjoy it. x (picture above is Victoria Beckham, or at least her legs, in the Marc Jacobs campaign)


Feminism and fashion have one thing in common these days - it's not done to criticise another woman, or at least, not to her face.

You can see the logic. After all, feminists and fashionistas alike come in for enough criticism without having our own tribes turn and skewer us with a sharp stiletto. So I want to make it absolutely clear that I have very deep-seated political reasons for being angry with Victoria Beckham, nee Victoria Adams, aka Posh Spice.

Posh was my hero. I was nine years old when the Spice Girls arrived in 1995. The first single I ever bought was the cassette tape of Wannabe. Suddenly, it was all right for girls to be powerful, to be spicy, to be fearless, to tell the whole world what they really, really wanted - even if, as it turned out, all they really wanted was to "zig-a-zig-ah." Nobody knew what that meant, but we were sure it was something rude.

For me, Posh Spice was where it was at - ladylike and assertive and reeking of "girl power." I wanted to grow up to be just like her but, by the time I did, the girl power-style brand had become weak, washed-out and ghostly - just like Posh herself.

Over the years, as Beckham has reinvented herself as a celebrity wife, mother and fashion icon, her image has changed beyond recognition. Now the former singer appears on billboards and magazine covers across the world looking pinched, sad and harassed.

Her most recent reincarnation as a designer encapsulates the difference between the Posh of yesteryear - the gutsy, grumpy, go-getting girl who couldn't sing and didn't care, her pale curves poured into shiny black frocks that hinted at sadism and sedition - and the Posh of today.

The dresses are constricting, dull and unforgiving, all muted greys and pastels. Despite their waist-sucking inbuilt corsets they can only be worn by the very, very thin. This might explain why Beckham's creations have been such a hit with a fashion press that values sickness and self-denial as the ultimate expression of a woman's success and marketability.

The news that Beckham is looking a bit thin these days is hardly likely to hold tomorrow's front page. Nor is the revelation that thousands of young girls across the world are developing eating disorders and citing Beckham's surprisingly visible bone structure as their "thinspiration."

If the fashion industry genuinely cared about women more than it cared about making money by making them miserable it would recycle these stories with significantly less morbid glee.

In fact, women in the public eye responding to pressure to starve themselves is nothing new [read the rest at Morning Star online].


  1. The Secret Pauper13 October 2009 at 12:50

    I'd buy THAT for a dollar!

  2. Maybe VB just doesn't get hungry when she is stressed. Or sometimes eating feels very difficult when you feel upset. I am not underweight, but I know that from personal experience.

    I think all the travelling she is doing to keep her family together is taking a toll. I don't think she necessarily wants to look quite as skeletal as she does.

  3. I saw Victoria Beckham do a cameo appearance in the American comedy import Ugly Betty earlier this year:

    Victoria the "Actress"

    Being a comedy show I think I can be forgiven for laughing uproariously when she appeared in scene. The woman looked as if she had been varnished or lacquered a peculiar dun colour and what with her ridiculous plastic breasts, emaciated body, brushed nylon blonde hair and immobile "botox" expression... well, Posh Spice was quite a sight shall we say, to say the least!

    She can't sing, can't dance, can't model, can't act, can't design... Is there no beginning to her talents? And yet people still talk about her even though she's abandoned the country! I suppose she's kind of a British, if somewhat watered down, equivalent to America's Sarah Jessica Parker or similar.

    It can't be too long now before she brings out a sex tape a la Pammy Anderson and Paris Hilton in hopes of reviving some semblance of interest in her existence and her "career".

  4. It makes me feel very sad to hear that there were children at the time who actually believed in the shallow, manufactured nonsense that was the Spice Girls, that there were children who actually thought that "girl-power" as espoused by Posh et al. was anything other than a painfully transparent and cynical double-speak marketing slogan.

    If you're disillusioned, Penny, I'd suggest it's not because of what VB has become, but because of what she always was.

  5. Victoria Beckham is living (if skeletal) proof that money does not bring happiness. Her unhappiness saddens me, because in all fairness to her, she does do a lot for charity. I even read in "The Big Issue" that she and David signed up for some mental health awareness thing that none of the other celebs invited would touch. I think she wants to be happy and wants to be a good person. I hope she cheers up soon, she has 3 children, they deserve happy parents, all children do.

    Total proof Wallis Simpson was misguided to think that you can never be too rich or too thin.

  6. Total proof Wallis Simpson was misguided to think that you can never be too rich or too thin

    I think Karen Carpenter pipped her to the post on that one.

  7. @Dandelion, urgh, horrible to think of people like Karen Carpenter dying so young. I hope VB gets better.


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