Socialist Worker

I'm A Celebrity! Get these fake images out of here!

by Hazel Croft
Issue No. 1888

What a fortnight...the top-up fees vote...the Hutton whitewash...Blair lurching from one crisis to the next...

Are these the stories that have dominated the tabloids? Not a chance. Their front pages have been overtaken by nonentities trying to boost their flagging careers in I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! We've been bombarded with relentless trivia about model Jordan's love life, about Johnny Rotten's use of the 'c' word and pictures of former royal correspondent Jennie Bond encased in a coffin with rats crawling over her. I confess I quite enjoyed that one.

Not that this obsession has been confined to the tabloids. The Guardian and Independent have run their fair share of stories, supposedly offering serious comment.

'Jordan: is she a shameless bimbo or a feminist icon?' asked the Independent. I was shocked when some feminist commentators rushed to laud Jordan, the model most well known for her silicone-implanted breasts, as a new feminist icon. Isn't an icon someone/thing you're supposed to look up to and emulate? Are young women supposed to see Jordan as a role model?

Well, they tell us, she's a single mother, she's made lots of money and her stint in the rainforest showed that she was gutsy, stood up for herself and (shock, horror) had brains. Now the idea that every woman could be categorised as either ugly/brainy or beautiful/brainless was always an outrageously sexist stereotype that had no basis in reality.

It's a pretty sorry comment on the state of feminism that making money out of having (or creating) a body that fits a sexist stereotype can be held up as something we should admire. I became a feminist when I was younger precisely because I saw it as challenging the idea that women were judged by the size of our breasts and the shape of our bodies.

Now young women have to grapple with being told (by the tabloids) that Jordan is the epitome of sexiness, and at the same time (by feminists) that she's a symbol of women's liberation.

What message will this give to the nine in ten 10 to 19 year old young women who said they were unhappy with their bodies in a recent Bliss magazine survey? That they should save up for a boob job? An incredible one in four 14 year olds in the survey said they had seriously considered plastic surgery.

This insecurity and misery is the consequence of bombarding young women with images of celebrities, who are becoming ever thinner and ever more nipped and tucked by the surgeons' knives.

Celebrities are even all beginning to sport the same look. 'It comprises an inflated upper lip, precise eyebrows, perfectly aligned white teeth and toned planes of flesh, the accompanying body usually exceptionally thin but for improbably large breasts,' one commentator put it.

In the real world of course, women have never matched up to whatever particular stereotype we were told was fashionable or beautiful. We have always been a wide variety of different shapes and sizes.

But today the fake images we are supposed to live up to seem particularly insidious in a society dominated as it is by the multinational food giants, where the tendency is for us to be getting fatter. The press may rail against increasing obesity rates, yet at the same time it relentlessly serves up a daily diet of unobtainable images which are only likely to increase the rate of eating disorders and obesity.

Maybe I shouldn't be so surprised. After all, this is the same press that wants to bury us all in the trivia of I'm A Celebrity rather than have us bury the government.


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Sat 14 Feb 2004, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1888
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