I haven't read a fashion magazine in ages. Even when I see one in the doctor's office, a brief perusal reaffirms that there's not much to hold my attention. However, when the New York Times was delivered on Sunday bearing an extra heft that turned out to be the "Spring Fashion" issue, I decided it to bring it down to the laundry room with me.
Scanning the Table of Contents revealed that it would be more of a look through than a read. There was an essay by Gloria Steinem about women politicians who were "actually minding the store," accompanied by pictures of Barbara Lee and Barbara Boxer. It pointed to the media deficiency in covering female representatives of substance. I read it first. Since it was at the back of the book, I worked my way to the front, leafing through a series of layouts for clothing and shoes -- many with four figure price tags.
Ad after ad showed women in their 20s and 30s wearing styles, makeup, perfume and accessories designed by the big names -- Prada, Valentino, Armani and Calvin Klein. They were rather interchangeable, except for the one that stopped me dead in my tracks.
It featured a photograph of the 1970s top model Lauren Hutton, clearly free of airbrushing, in a portrait that presented her as defiantly older. She sported a bold necklace on her lined neck and rings on her hands -- which clearly showed the wear and tear of time and a life lived.
Currently 67, Hutton forged a new path in the modeling world. With asymmetrical rather than classic features and a trademark gap-toothed smile, she snared a groundbreaking contract with Revlon cosmetics in 1974. She became the face of Ultima II, inking a deal for $200,000 a year for twenty days of modeling work. It paved the way for future "supermodels."
Here she was again, in 2011, surrounded by pages of commercially flawless babes. Boldly and knowingly looking into the camera, she demands to be experienced on her own ground.
I had to smile.
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