Monday, February 28, 2011

Welcome, Tanja Cilia

In the world of romance writing, authors strive to make their characters picture perfect.  No one wants a flawed hero or heroine, although some have dared cross the line of imperfection. I'm not sure how they fared. For me, romance conjures up visions of shapely women, handsome men, and magnificent couples, so the following article by Tanja Cilia, a new editor with Muse It Up Publishing, makes perfect sense. Do we set our aim too high for reality? Why don't we write about people with real defects?  Is it because society is unforgiving?

Fat Lot of Good

“She used to be a beauty queen” is an expression we hear more often than we used to, partly because of the proliferation of beauty contests, and partly because these days, it’s almost as if for some people, it’s almost the be-all and end-all of their existence – apart from modeling, and singing.

There was a time when the term was used to compliment someone who wore her age well; gradually, the term was also used to mock someone who was down on her luck and perhaps the only contract she would get would be to partner Michelin Man.

There are also those pageant queens who lost their crowns after they were discovered to have been married, or mothers, or involved in underworld activity, risqué modeling shoots, or not adhering to the specifications of the contest requirements.

There was also the ridiculous instance where Olivia O'Neil of New Zealand, Miss Teen Wanganui, was bereft of her crown for a risible offense; she returned to her natural colour (dark brown), having competed, and won, with blond tresses.

Alas, a section of the press was recently alight with the phrase again – and this time it was used in connection with Domonique Ramirez, the 17-year-old who was crowned Miss Antonio last year.

This young lady’s crime was... being too fat. Now we have all read books about how the protégées of sugar daddies who finally get to marry them have to sign pre-nuptials stipulating that they never get above a certain weight.

The same thing happened to Ms Ramirez - without a Hefner in sight. In her case, she had to maintain her weight at 129 pounds for 5’8, which she had been on the day she was crowned. Like O’Neil , albeit for a different reason, she had not maintained the image that had won her the contest.

Her crime was that she ate “too many tacos”. Apparently, she is also one of those women who took modeling jobs that were not endorsed by the organization that crowned her, and arrived late for activities that she was duty bound to host or simply attend.

All this was good news for Ashley Dixon the first runner-up, who has now been handed the crown on a silver platter, in a manner of speaking. In an obvious put-down to Ramirez, Dixon was touted as a “... talented, mature young woman who will encourage and serve as a positive role model for our youth."

This intimates that anyone who is not thin makes a bad role model – morals, empathy, dress sense and manners do not matter any more. Or is it that a role model must simply toe the line drawn by superiors, even when it comes to morals and so forth?

Despite slogans like “The Hourglass is the new Zero”, despite the ban on Size Zero Women and Manorexic Men, and the deaths of several high-profile models from anorexia, it seems that matchstick men and women are still in demand when it comes to serving as clothes hangers, perhaps because that’s what they look like.

I would say that designers sometimes go for the prepubescent look, the androgynous look, the bi-sexual, the skeletal look, and even the genderless look, to shock us into noticing their clothes. Then, we notice the models – who all appear to have come out of the same clone mill, where even the term Reduced Fat is a considered a profanity.

Whatever’s next? A thin male model in a wedding gown? Someone who looks like a Klingon, only with make-up slapped on more artistically? Oops! I’d almost forgotten Andrej Pejic and Andre J.

You can view another awesome article by Tanja here.


Marva Dasef said...

It all started with Twiggy.

I saw a TV news program talking about a formerly anorexic model, who worked hard to cure her disease. She became a plus size model. Now, they're harping at her when she lost weight again taking her down to a size 8.

So you can't win in the modeling game unless you ruin your health in some way.

BarbaraB said...

Funny you should mention beauty pagents, Tanja. This same evening (Monday), there was a show on Bones (might have been a re-run) about beauty pagents for girls. One mother put her daughter into a corset. That's starting pretty young.
Most of us love looking at beautiful people.Didn't we just spend hours watching the Acadamy Awards? The media usually gives the public what it wants, quite often using the lowest common denominator.
As a writer for children, I like to present characters who are beautiful on the inside. Quite often, I don't describe the outward appearance, leaving that to the reader.

Wendy said...

Hi Tanja,
You've raised some great points. I do think heroines in modern novels are becoming more natural, maybe no so much in Romance but they are in mysteries and crime novels.

Funny you should mention what next, slender male models modelling wedding gowns? One Australian male model has recently become an international sensation modelling womens clothes. He stole the show when he appeared on the catwalk dressed as a bride. He looked fabulous! I didn't catch his name but he appeared on a TV current affairs programme and his mother was incredibly proud. He's making a mint too.
Not sure I'd want to cast him as a romantic lead in one of my novels, though.

zxcvbnm said...

Marva, I've been reading of thin models rejected by the beauty industry agents because they are too fat - and the agents themselves were way byond fat.

Barbara; I watched the "Tiaras" show and I was disgusted at how single-digit age girls are given all-over tans and waxing.

Wendy, I mentioned him (and another person) in the last like of this blog; Andrej Pejic and Andre J.

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