If the experts at Glamour, Grazia, Cosmo et al. are right, then us ladies are only ready to leave the house and inflict ourselves upon the world when the following ‘body parts’ are correctly assembled:
- Locks or alternatively mane (if you’re feeling fierce)
As I understand it, the construction of these parts is meant to result in Angelina Jolie. However, the image I am left with is the lovechild of Rapunzel and a lion, with needles for legs, flashing hawk-like talons. Aspiration is not what I feel.
While it must be difficult for magazine writers to avoid repetition when endlessly discussing how to perfect eyes, lips, nails, legs and hair, the constant use of words like pins is not only a patronising attempt to create a linguistic community (despite the fact that none of their readers ever use those words), it also does some disturbing work in objectifying women’s bodies.
Pins are sharp objects, talons and manes belong to animals, and peepers sound like something a stalker might use. What all these terms have in common is a lack of humanity and a forced sense of frivolity, not to mention a complete failure to resonate with the way women think and talk about their bodies.
That’s not to say magazine language has no influence, however. A lot of attention is paid to the visual side of objectification, with important discussions around the way images of women’s bodies are cropped, dismembered and photoshopped into idealised body parts. But the language of beauty is just as alienating, working to make our bodies seem like haphazard collections of objects that don’t belong to us.
It’s strange that this formula continues to dominate women’s magazines even in an era when women writing blogs, journalism, novels and tweets are showing that we neither read nor write that way. Our lips are made for talking, not pouting, and if the magazines could realise this they might finally be able to speak to us.