Harriet Walker: Sex industry glamour is worse than size zero

Notebook: Our towns are filling up with pornified Barbies, with walking, talking blow-up dolls

Share
Related Topics

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 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 very 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.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

KS2 Teacher

£90 - £120 per day + tax deductable expenses: Randstad Education Leicester: At...

Finance Officer

£80 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Finance Officer with Educat...

Primary Teacher

£100 - £130 per day + Excellent rates of pay, Free CPD: Randstad Education Sou...

Supply Teachers Required

£100 - £130 per day + Excellent rates of Pay, Excellent CPD : Randstad Educati...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

In Sickness and in Health: It’s been lonely in bed without my sleep soulmate

Rebecca Armstrong
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor