29 May 2012

Feet Made for Walking

Today I saw a woman walking in what I like to think of as Magritte shoes, though that probably isn't the name given to them by the manufacturer. I mean shoes that look like feet, with toes into which you insert your own toes, soles that are tougher than your own skin, and unhampered by any of the stylistic considerations with which shoes are generally burdened. Rene Magritte adorned his version with shoelaces, which are rather a charming addition. Walking as homo erectus was meant to walk.

24 May 2012

Blow Up!!

I was idly looking for old pictures of bras when I came across this:
Blow up!! Such a great idea! I had no idea that blow-up bras were available from the early 50's, on both sides of the Atlantic. I imagine that relatively little effort would be involved to achieve the required degree of expansion. A bra is not on the scale of, say, the do-it-yourself mattress we used when camping, or the little inflatable boat we acquired one year at the seaside. On the other hand, an inflated bra is not likely to keep you afloat if your boat sinks. All this demonstrates that very little is new in the world..
This was done some time ago, but Frederick's of Hollywood got there first.

16 May 2012

12 May 2012


When I was an architecture student, one of the more interesting lectures, given by an engineer,  jokily examined the brassiere as a example of structural engineering. So true!
Persuaded by an exceptionally keen salesgirl, I just acquired a bra that is built like a tank. It apparently fits me wonderfully (no overspills or wrinkles, no slippage or ongoing adjustment), and gives me the rounded figure of a DD cupsize, whereas before I had nothing (cupsize A), but it grips me with talons of steel, it has all the flexibility of a plaster cast. I take shallow little breaths. I consider before I move. And of course it's a lie- all structure and no content. I rattle around inside those cups like dried peas in a tin; there's enough spare room in there for my house keys. Vanity tipped the balance in the little changing room at the lingerie department. I bought the bra in white, black, and powder pink.

8 May 2012

The Mirror

A friend once said she passed a mirror and was surprised to see there the Wreck of the Hesperus (not a picture, but a much-parodied poem by H.W. Longfellow). I knew just what she meant. I have occasionally returned home from a challenging night out and, groping my way around the bathroom with eyes squeezed shut, have covered the mirror with a towel before brushing teeth, washing face, and retiring to bed, unwilling to come face to face with the face I have been presenting to the public (a face I probably spent considerable time tarting up at that same mirror earlier in the evening).

While I'm at it, I'd like to quote here from an essay by Susan Sontag, published in 'Women' (Annie Leibowitz, Random House, Inc, 1999): 'Nobody looks at pictures of women without noticing whether the women are attractive or not. To be feminine, in one commonly felt definition, is to be attractive, or to do one's best to be attractive; to attract. (As being masculine is being strong.) While it is perfectly possible to defy this imperative, it is not possible for any woman to be unaware of it. As it is thought a weakness in a man to care a great deal about how he looks, it is a moral fault in a woman not to care 'enough'. Women are judged by their appearance as men are not, and women are punished more than men are by the changes brought about by aging.' 
Things may be changing- it is much more acceptable now for a man to 'care a great deal about he looks', although there are looks and there are looks. I have it on the good authority of the Times Magazine (05.05.12) that young men working as sales assistants in the 'cult' clothing store Hollister are required, in keeping with the store's Looks Policy, to wax their chests. How biblical! As Jacob said in Genesis 27:11, 'Behold, Esau my brother is an hairy man, and I am a smooth man.'  I guess Jacob got the job. Though the mind boggles- my mind boggles, at least- at the very idea of a topless sales assistant, male or female..

3 May 2012

Outside the Lines

One of the many troubles of ageing is that the hand-eye coordination sometimes isn't up to scratch. The tentative hand, the wavering line, the rather imprecise application of this or that colour. Equally, one of the benefits of ageing is that the gently declining vision blurs the face in the mirror, rendering the effects of the morning routine just about satisfactory.