Monday, June 26, 2006

sort of fun, don't you think?

Some people say what I do isn't very feminist. I say it's pretty liberating to get $20,000 for 10 minutes...most women want to be sex symbols, even if they don't admit it. Imagine being considered not for your mind but for how you look. Sort of fun, don't you think?

the ravishing Ms Dita Von Teese

It's an interesting point, and one you're almost not allowed to make these days, for fear of being misunderstood. But, speaking for myself, yes, I think it would be sort of fun. It is sort of fun.

I decided quite early on as girl that I did not want to be a girly girl - although, I think to a certain extent, it's a choice that's made for you. You're either one of the prettiest girls in your class, or you're one of the sportiest, or you're one of the nicest, or you're one of the bolshiest, or you're one of the smartest. I was smart (and devilishly competitive) and instinctively solitary. I was never the girl the boys boasted about. I worried that if I was, that would be all I could be.

As a teenager I dressed like a boy - my hair was extremely short and i'm not, nor ever will be what you'd call volupturous. But in my own self-styled way, I felt pretty – and pretty good, because i was most definitely not a boy. i like nothing more than to feel feminine, and nothing makes me feel more like me than denying that impulse. i still think i look best in drag, actually - more in a shirt and tie sort of way - on a dressy day, maybe a trilby. but maybe that's because i can't think of anyone more beautiful than diane keaton in annie hall. but that's a different post altogether.

being a sex symbol is different from being a sex object. Being a sex object is about passivity, stillness, boredom. It’s the closed eyes, the open mouth, the spread legs, the same old pose repeated endlessly with a different woman pulling the same goggle-eyed grin and saying nothing more than "I’m available – do with me what you will".

But a sex symbol – now she is a promise, an idea, a thought. She’s the restriction of her corset, the slovenly pyjamas that belong to somebody else, the tautness of her calf muscle in the stiletto heel, no-bra confidence and couldn’t care less bitten nails. It’s the two hours it takes of an evening to iron your hair and the two hours it takes to make it curl. it's both what you are and what you could be, and most importantly, what you want to be.

as that crazy lady elizabeth wurtzel says about the archetypal "bad girl", "it's a woman who understands that she will achieve her apotheosis when anybody can project any idea, any neurotic impulse or erotic fantasy, onto her person, because she is either the parallax view, the human Rashomon - because she is either that beguiling or that empty".

but, unlike ms wurtzel, i think it's the either/or that's important.

for the album cover of "strange little girls", a beautifully bleak album of cover versions, tori amos appears in no less than 13 different guises. you can buy the album with any one of the thirteen toris, but once it’s yours, you get all the delight of the other twelve inside. She is every single one of those strange little girls, and none of them, and each disguise delivers a separate, considered and gorgeously exaggerated symbol of some tiny little piece of who she is.

being a sex symbol is my being whatever you want me to be, but strictly on my terms.

Imagine being considered not for your mind but for how you look – sort of fun, don’t you think?


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