Monday, 16 January 2012

Growing up with Kate Moss

As the nations favourite waif turns 38, I'm taking a pause to think about my body. Whatever I think of the most succesful model of all time, she's always been there for me to compare to. I can barely remember a time she wasn't around.

I first saw Kate Moss on the front cover of The Face magazine. I was about sixteen and unimpressed, she was young and skinny, so what. I was 6.5 stone wet through and was fed up with being mistaken for a child, being ID'd for cigarettes, being overlooked and patronised in adult conversation. I was 4ft 11 and I hated it, I wanted to look like a 'real' woman, tattoed with boobs and long legs, one that couldn't be mistaken for a child. In those days they didn't sell size 8 let alone a 6, fortunately for me grunge was all the rage, ill fitting was par for the course. No I didn't want to be Kate Moss, I wanted to be like the goths I saw at The Harp club New Cross (Now the Venue) the immaculately groomed uber Goths who worked in Kensington Market (No longer trading.) This story is dating me by the sentence.

So my first body issue was not about weight, it was height. I hated being short, Petite, even my clothes size is patronising. Acceptence of my height eventally came via an unlikely source, the polar opposite to teenage angst and goth, Kylie Minogue. Here was someone of 5ft that would become one of the world's sexiest women. She is the poster girl for short women and she is my guiltiest musical pleasure. At forty I would even go as far as to say that I like being short, you've got more room in the bath and you can sqeeze into vintage shoes.

Since our early teenage years most women over 35 have grown up with Kate Moss. We have been bombarded with images of her skinny jeans and chiselled features for so long we've forgotten there's an alternative. Until recently, until the campaign for the appreciation of 'real' women. Burlesque buxom beauties took to the stage, the retro curves of Christina Hendricks hit the newstands, bigger women now had positive representation, curves were back in Vogue. Christina looks fanbloodytastic, but I have a problem with the notion of 'real' women. For one, curves look incredible but when most people put on a few pounds the only curves in evidence are convex they grow a gut not an hourglass shape to die for. And what is a 'real' woman. Cut me at 7.11 stone and I still bleed, I squeezed two kids past these 31inch hips. I am all woman believe me. The problem is not unreal women but the persistant representation of beauty coming in tall, thin and young packages. We don't need to pit curves against cheekbones, we just need a bit of variety.

Most women have body issues and i've had my fair share, I have bored my husband and family rigid with my obsessive moaning about my stomach. I've started to wonder how I stop my daughter inheriting this body obsession that has plagued the last few generations of British women. I can't think of anyone I know who is confident in the body they have been given to wear and i'm seriously at a loss as to how to stop her falling for the same vanity trap. I can tell her she is beautiful and that this is irrelevant because she is capable and intellegent, but this doesn't cut much ice when it comes from your mother.

At forty I follow the progress of Kate Moss as you would a girl you went to school with. I no longer think 'she's skinny, so what?' I wonder how the hell they airbrush the fag and booze damage from the corners of her eyes and mouth, how she kept that stomach so flat after having a child. By the time my baby Pearl is sixteen, there will be some other model setting the body beautiful trend. Whether she considers herself beautiful may depend on whether she matches this girls colour, height, look or shape. I hope however that we have moved on by then, that our daughters have learned from our pathetic navel gazing. Alternatively Kate Moss may still doing the rounds, radicalising how we see the older woman, fag hanging out of her mouth on the front cover of Vogue.

Happy Birthday Kate Moss, you're persistant I'll give you that!

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