28 March 2012

Blinded By The Maths

Fig A above shows the natural position of the foot at a right angle to the leg. In Fig B, the foot has been inserted into a shoe of heel height 'a'. In order for the leg to achieve the vertical position, the angle of adjustment, A, can be calculated using the formula:

                                                  sin A = a        (where 'c' = length of foot and 'a' = heel height)

Have I miscalculated? No matter - it's pretty evident to the naked eye. A woman wearing the above shoes, as shown below, would have to adjust her posture by approximately 35 degrees in order to stand vertical (ie: to look normal).


'We tend to think of Uggs as silly boots for girls who don't want to be fancied'.. wrote Simon Hills in the Style section of the Times magazine last Saturday (24.03.12). I take this as a joke, or irony; otherwise, it's very irritating. Mr. Hills goes on to say that Uggs are now manufacturing 'pretty nifty' footwear for men, which, presumably, will be worn only when they don't want to be fancied, either. Is 'Ugg' short for 'ugly'? The official Ugg website doesn't go into etymological detail as far as I can see, though Wikipedia seems to indicate that it's a generic term dating from the 60s. Sheepskin boots were apparently popular with surfers (when not in the water, I guess), and only caught on with women when the company started selling in California. Girls would appropriate their surfer boyfriends' boots in the same way they borrowed their shirts and sweaters, developing an 'emotional bond' with their pet-sized Uggs. The rest is commercial history. 
Anyway, Mr. Hills is at fault on at least two counts with his comment; has he not seen the very famous picture of Miss Raquel Welch wearing an early pair of Uggs in one of her more notable films?

23 March 2012


I drew a variation on this idea some years back, and reality has recently caught up in the form of mattress-quality silicone being used in breast implants, causing all manner of problems. Plus ca change..

18 March 2012

Natural Selection

Alas, Nature has not equipped us for dealing with the extremes of fashionable footwear. Is it possible, however, that if some genuine advantage accrues to the female as a consequence of spiky height, then natural selection will step in and, as Charles Darwin put it, 'old forms will be supplanted by new and improved forms'? 

15 March 2012


Apparently shoes have been getting higher in the past few years. I'm of course talking about high-heeled shoes, shoes that are bought and worn by women, and which have heels that can now rise 6-plus inches and more. There is always sporadic but ongoing discussion as to the merits and demerits of such footwear- to some they apparently represent 'empowerment', sexiness and confidence; to others they are just painful and damaging to the foot. So, why do women wear high heels? Well, like climbers and Everest, it's because they're there. Personally, I take my cue from women who, fleeing the site of the World Trade Centre on 9/11, ditched their heels and ran in bare feet. 

9 March 2012


I was very happy to read yesterday that Sara Blakely, founder and owner of Spanx, has become the youngest female to make it onto the Forbes rich list. Just a shame that she has made it as a manufacturer of slimming underwear, rather than, say, radiators or lightbulbs, or a cure for dementia. There have, of course, been variations on the theme of figure-improving under-garments for decades. These were aimed overwhelmingly at women (naturally!) and very often went some way beyond improvement and a good way into deformation. I was delighted, therefore, to read that men can and do also buy Spanx, that a pair of Spanx briefs will make a man 'look sharper, stand taller and feel stronger', and that there is a wonderful pair of photos on the Spanx website, demonstrating the 'Not Handsome' versus 'Handsome' effect of the product. So to the point! Whereas the language used in the two advertisements above (from 'Wide World', an English periodical aimed at the armchair adventurer, and dating from the fifties) tends to stress 'medical' benefits. They are, however, rather charming, though the mind boggles somewhat at the thought of a hand-knitted Vitabrace.

6 March 2012

Croque Monsieur

More Whites

Like on old adverts for washing powder, one white T shirt put next to another turns out to be a different shade of white. I expect cosmetic dentistry offers a wide choice of colours these days, something, unfortunately, to investigate in the not-too-distant future. 


Something about the teeth in the last post ... is so scary. Unedited teeth can be scary. Just the colour, let alone size, shape, orientation. 

1 March 2012

Five New Shades for Spring

The naming of lipsticks is a mini literary genre. Papers have been written on the subject. According to Debra Merskin, who penned 'Truly Toffee and Raisin Hell: A Textual Analysis of Lipstick Names' (2007 Springer Netherlands), 'understanding how meaning is constructed through lipstick naming is an important step towards apprehending the role of cosmetics in conflating femininity, self-esteem, and body image with the goals of patriarchal hegemony.' Now you know. She found that most lipsticks are named after food, beverages, sex and romance. Perhaps things have moved on since 2007. Nars, for instance, currently features reams of more subtle and surprising titles, leaning heavily on geography (Tanganyka, Porte Vecchio, Tashkent, Valparaiso, Bilbao, etc), throwing in a bit of psychology (Mindgame, Beautiful Liar, Success) and even trains (Trans Siberian, Transeurope Express, Shanghai Express). Far more interesting than Shade No.37.