Harriet Walker: Sex industry glamour is worse than size zero


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The Independent Online

I like to think I'm now impervious to faddish trends. I've been a goth, a WAG, a swot and a toff in my time, and I've settled at a stretchy waistband and warm coat sort of stage – yes, I follow fashion, but only if it's black and baggy.

So I'm alarmed to note a hunger for self-improvement, an obsession with hair extensions, fake tan, cosmetic surgery and bandage dresses – and I can trace them all directly to the lurid magazines I've been reading while laid up in my plaster cast.

I haven't picked up a copy of Heat or OK! in years, not that I have no interest in celebrities but because I was worried someone might see. I haven't felt as dissatisfied and full of self-loathing either. Modern life is not strewn with positive female role models, but the most dysmorphic sentiments can be traced back to reality TV stars and their glamazon culture.

Magazines with models on their covers sell far less than those which feature Victoria and Coleen; the catwalks are far less obtrusive than they were when Naomi et al bestrode them. Forget also the bony little Hollywood dolls – an other-worldly tribe that we just accept are more eternally groomed than us.

No, the new icons are those plucked from obscurity and thrust in our faces, in all their bra-cups-runneth-over glory – and they are more insidious than mere models could ever be. The Only Way Is Essex has spawned the most; with cast members like Jessica Wright (left) obsessed with manicures and mastopexy, their style is more porn than practical. Terrifyingly, we're told they exist in the same sphere as the rest of us. The rise of this sort of "celebrity" doesn't just give rise to anorexia and insecurity – it also goes a bit further towards making us hate the every essence of being a woman. Our breasts are not big or pert enough; our skin not silky or hairless enough; the hair we haven't had compulsively waxed off must be supplemented with acrylic ringlets; our clothes tiny, and tight.At least buying clothes is better than buying a new nose and some boobs.

Go out on a Friday night and the skimpy dresses are ubiquitous; the false nails, the extensions, the shivering, marbled mahogany hides. Our towns are filling up with pornified Barbies, with walking, talking blow-up dolls. The cult of sex industry glamour, the beauty regime that takes up every waking minute, has become the most insidious aspect of our obsession with celebrity culture.


TOTP could heal our battles

Thursday nights are all right for fighting, according to researchers who have determined that 8pm that night is the time when couples are most likely to have a row. Presumably, it's when all of our pre-Friday pent-up aggression seeps out. Luckily for my boyfriend, he was out last Thursday and the week before that I was too addled with hospital-strength morphine to really pick the scabs of any domestic disputes.

But there is another solution to these tiffs: bring back Top of the Pops. It was the perfect way to spend a Thursday evening, after homework and before my oboe lesson. And with Bruno Mars for the girls and Pan's People for the guys, any nascent arguments will sputter out before they take hold.