Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Who wears short shorts?

Meredith writes an interesting post about Promo Girls here.

The incisive point Meredith makes is about how men decorate their bodies and possessions (mostly cars) in an outwards space claiming fashion, and women minimalise in a near-naked, take up as little space as possible and inhibit movement fashion.

I can certainly relate to this observation - and I think it is manifested in how men and women - and indeed boys and girls - sit / are taught to sit. I remember being posed for school photographs. In group photos, I am always placed in the front left hand corner. I think this is where my height inevitably places me. Girls were always asked to put their knees together and their right hand over the top of their left. Boys were asked to sit with their knees hip-width apart, with a fist on each knee. I'm in a grade two photo where I have obviously been confused by the instructions - or don't know which gender I am - as I have my knees together but a fist on each knee. Otherwise, I am clearly "girl": I'm in a pink dress with my hair in pigtails either side of exposed ears.

I also had to comment with my own observation about "Promo Girls":


On the streets in Brisbane, there are young scantily clad women in short shorts advertising … something. I assume one of our girly bars, but I am not entirely sure. I have a little argument with myself every time I see them. My first reaction is annoyance.

Then I think: No, wait. Not their fault. Probably lucrative. Should be annoyed at … something/one else. Society! It’s society’s fault.

Sometimes, pity. Aren’t they cold? Don’t they hate it when horrid men ogle them? When women look at them disapprovingly?

Sometimes, in judgment: Hmm, if you’re going to wear that, you’ll need to walk a bit taller. Swing those hips, sass it out. No use huddling into yourself.

With eyebrows raised: I don’t know that short shorts suit your cellulite*

Then in judgment on myself: That’s not very nice, Oanh. Good on them. They’re comfortable with their bodies and they’re using society’s obsession with women’s bodies /sexual object status to their advantage. Plenty of other women will look at them disapprovingly, no need for you to do so. You can be more generous than that.

With my feminist rejoinder: But they’re perpetuating women’s oppression!

Basically, I end up with all these thoughts which probably flicker across my face (I’m terrible at masking my emotions) and these women edge away from me, so I then feel forced to give them a tentative smile, just to show that I’m, er, friendly or approve or something. Which I’m not. And I don’t.


I really do not like the Promo Girls. But I also know that it is not their fault, and that the work may be a perfectly valid and probably lucrative choice.

There is also mention by Legal Eagle of an advertisement for tailor-made suits. I agree with Legal Eagle that it is valid to exploit sex appeal but I consider it inappropriate in a workplace and it occassionally angers, and sometimes saddens, me.

I think the reason is that Promo Girls and that ad perpetuate a notion of women's power as based predominantly on their appearance and sexual worth to men. I do not agree with that. I do not think that that is valid. But I think, so long as it exists, it's okay for my sisters to exploit it. I'm just going to keep tying myself up in knots every time I think about it, however.

*when I wrote the comment I'd forgotten the word for cellulite...(!)


Galaxy said...

I was so impressed that you forgot 'cellulite', blanked it out as the non-event that it is.

I would've sat next to you in school photos, I was always second from the end on the front left.

Meredith Jones said...

I was attracted to this post by the "femme" tag - and therein find myself, hehehe. Nice post.

Legal Eagle said...

I know exactly what you mean. I tie myself up in knots as well. And I think I get exactly the same expressions flitting across my face as you do when you see those "short-shorts girls"!

I'm not comfortable with Promo Girls or the like. I wouldn't buy the products they promote. I guess I've come to the view that if some people want to exploit their bodies in that way, and they have freely exercised that choice, then I shouldn't get too het up about it.

The problem is that I certainly wouldn't want my daughter to feel that she had to look like that to be a successful woman!

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