So there’s this blog called Frou Frou Fashionista, which is all about lingerie. 99% of my wardrobe consists of jeans and tank tops and all my cotton underwear is from Target, so I am not the kind of person who typically reads fashion blogs, let alone lingerie blogs. Regardless of topic, though, most good blogs share certain things in common regardless of the topic – enthusiasm and a personal viewpoint being among them. The Frou Frou Fashionista gals definitely have that, and I have nothing against their blog specifically.
(It does seem likely to give me the same body image / appearance issues that caused my breakup with Glamour magazine years ago, since both are filled with images of women who are, let’s say, unnaturally compliant with bizarre cultural beauty standards? But that’s not specific to them, that’s a nationwide epidemic, so we’re going to ignore that part for right now.)
One of their recent posts was a startling reminder of how far removed my day to day thoughts must be from the rest of the world. The Lake & Stars – Spring 2010 is a collection of photographs produced to highlight a new lingerie collection. The images include what look to me like a lingerie-clad woman in the following situations:
- being pulled by a rope tied around her midsection
- being stalked by a man holding an axe
- caught in a net in the back of a truck
- floating dead in a lake
When I saw that there were over 30 comments on the post, I scrolled down to check them out, expecting to see some controversy. Instead, every single comment praised the photography, the lingerie, and the creativity of the photo shoot.
I was stunned. In my world, SOMEONE would have said something like “Um, yeah, because what’s sexy is women being captured, stalked, and killed. Wait, WTF?” I am aware that some non-sexist people find images of people tied up to be sexy, and I’m not taking a position on that here. I’m just so unaccustomed to spending time in environments where no one would point out that these images have the potential to be problematic.
If you go on to the The Lake & Stars Spring/Summer 2010 Lookbook itself, you can see the entire sequence of images in the order they were published, along with the “captions and a bit of a dangerous story” mentioned in the Frou Frou post.
In context, the unsettling images are a bit more “suspense thriller” and a bit less “exploitation.” The woman is in the woods running, setting traps, and spying on her unnamed opponents with binoculars. The caption that goes with the axe photo is this:
When a guy suddenly comes at you with an axe, it usually means he’s as unprepared as you are. Remember, an axe is rarely a weapon of choice.
The caption that goes with the picture of her in the net is this:
Sometimes, your opponents will be sure they have the upper hand. That’s when they’re most vulnerable.
Taken altogether, I’m not as disturbed by the set as I was by the subset presented on Frou Frou Fashionista. However, I’m still a little freaked out by the fact that in over 30 comments on the post, no one raised even a slight concern.
Either I’m completely off-base, or I spend too much time in the feminist blogosphere, or I should spend ALL my time there because the rest of the blogosphere is too unsettling. I can’t decide.