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

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

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A Gold Ferrari sits outside Chanel on Sloane Street  

Sunday Times Rich List: We are no longer in thrall to very rich people

Terence Blacker
David Cameron was openly emotional at the prospect of Scotland leaving the union before the referendum  

Remember when David Cameron almost cried over Scotland because he loved it so much?

Matthew Norman
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence