The Illustration Friday word of the week is influence.
I have a special relationship with a copy machine at my local Staples store. Well, several copy machines, if you must know. Sometimes my attentions go to the black and white machine, and other times I turn my affections toward the full color machine. Full color copies cost about five times more, but they are so worth the pain: to see a smaller version of my newest watercolor painting, or a larger version of a favorite Klee painting from a library book (which I can then, guilt free, cut out and paste into my scrapbook), is a feeling beyond price.
But last week I went in search of copying pleasure on, alas, the first day of High School. The parking lot was packed, and a crazed SUV driver pulled a definitely-illegal full-reverse down the lane I was slowly–lucky for me–moving into. Instead of an almost-empty store with the typical few and elusive employees, I found check-out lines twenty people deep, clerks madly rushing about, loud sales announcements, and aisles crowded with harried mothers and their oh-so-cool, socially correct teenagers. Most striking of all, I found a considerable amount of female teenage flesh on display.
Now…I am not a male of the species and admittedly I’ve been living rather a closeted life lately. I’d forgotten that Life–and Fashion–goes on, as does the News, Government, and Television. I had no idea that the ‘Britney Spears‘ attire was still in strong evidence, and indeed, had accelerated. Perhaps there are even newer, younger Pop Stars out there who’ve taken her approach to further extremes? Whatever the reason, that day at Staples, there were a lot of under-sixteen girls under the influence of this trend, and wearing (as my Grandmother would have put it) “Hardly more than a handkerchief.” And they weren’t looking at all embarrassed…quite the opposite, in fact.
The last time I was wearing scarcely any clothing as a teenager, was the Graduation Pool Party in 1971. It was the first time most of us (of opposite sex) had seen each other with less than shorts and t-shirts, and I can still remember feeling acutely uncomfortable. My beach towel was my closest friend that day, and my hard-earned tan was not nearly enough to hide behind. I was shy by nature, but even so, very few of us back then were strutting in the Britney way.
Don’t get me wrong…I am all in favor of the beauty of the female body. (Although, all things being equal, I would choose Eileen Fisher over shredded jeans, push-up tops and studded belts any day…) But this trend seems to be something else entirely. What is the point, I ask myself? After all, without all of the Display and Parade, I (and my mother, grandmother and her grandmothers before her) managed to attract loving relationships and reasonably fulfilled lives. Most of us females even produced children. All based on having qualities and attributes that were apparently attractive to the opposite sex, and deeper–and more long lasting I might add–than youthful flesh and the mandate to Go Forth And Multiply. It is quite a mystery to me: why has the mating ritual been reduced to such a bare minimum? Perhaps this is the reason that the divorce rate is so high?
Don’t get me started on teenagers with big bellies wearing the Britney Spears look with insouciance. Or middle-aged mothers who dress like their daughters. I’m feeling my age, and better go lie down now…
“Walk This Way” (detail) (watercolor, pen & ink)
It’s the last week to enter artwork or vote for your favorite re-imagined book covers at Undercover Cover Art‘s new Blog Launch Contest. If you are in the voting mood, my own entry, “The Girl With Silver Hands,” would really appreciate your vote! Type “Susan Sorrell Hill” in the Search By Artist box, and follow the link to the Yellow Stars. When you’ve clicked on your preferred Star, the words “Thank You” should appear just to the right if you’ve voted successfully. Voting ends August 30th. A heartfelt “Thank You!” to all who’ve voted for my entry already.