the second sex– hey, that’s me!
Did you know there’s a new and improved translation of Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex? I didn’t, until I read about it in the fashion pages of an East Coast liberal media newspaper. Some people may find that ironic, because fashion is stereotypically airhead, something Beauvoir is clearly not. I’m of the mind, though, that fashion has been unfairly denigrated as insipid, mindless, consumerist, etc, etc, compared to other forms of creative self-expression, like poetry or painting. Could it be that we think so little of fashion because it’s something only women seem to care about? The sentiment is still out there that one chooses fashion or a serious life of the mind. Doing both is supposedly too much for one person.
The movie “The Duchess” has an interesting line about this: as Kiera Knightly’s creepy older husband is undressing her whilst complaining how complicated it is (we’re in the late 1700’s), she remarks that perhaps it’s so complicated because clothes are the only way women can express themselves. You can see the creepy older husband (Ralph Fiennes) stop considering this comment after an acknowledging grunt because it’s just too much– this woman in front of him, complicated? Surely not.
The fashion pages featured Beauvoir in an attempt to revise general opinion on her sartorial status (which apparently has been that she was frumpy and ill-dressed). The funny thing about fashion is everyone has to do it– everyone has to decide what to wear in the morning. (Think how many bad poetry days there would be if we all had to write a poem each morning.) Beauvoir was seen as not caring about fashion because she didn’t dress like other women around her, and I suppose because she didn’t spend much time brushing her hair in front of the mirror. But looking different is kind of the point of self-expression through fashion, and it probably takes less time in front of the mirror than trying to look like everyone else. Not that everyone has to be into fashion, just like not everyone has to be into poetry. Point is, it can be just as interesting.
So this morning I finished Volume I, Facts and Myths, being composed of parts on Destiny, History, and Myths. I’m surprised how modern and applicable and accessible the book is. It’s a real page turner (no really, it is). I was going to write about the actual book, but then this turned into a post on reclaiming fashion from the depths of scorn. More on the book in another post…