Saturday, July 28, 2012

Why Don't We Dress Up Anymore?

Jennifer Fulwiler, "Why don't we dress up anymore?" (NCR, June 27, 2012):
Last week Monsignor Charles Pope wrote a thought-provoking post lamenting our lax modern attitudes regarding the way we comport ourselves in public, especially when it comes to attire. It was occasioned by an ad for Skinny Girl liquor (which you can watch at the bottom of Msgr. Pope's post) that juxtaposes a caricature of a woman from the 1950s to modern women. The '50s woman wears a tailored dress, white gloves, high heels -- and of course the stereotype wouldn't be complete without a gaudy string of pearls. While this woman sits stiffly and rattles off rules about how a real lady behaves, the ad flashes to images of modern women having fun while breaking all of these rules (and drinking Skinny Girl beverages, naturally).

There's a lot one could say about this ad, starting with the crushing irony of the fact that its message dismisses the behavioral laws of generations past, while loudly proclaiming the unspoken laws of our own times ("A real woman watches her calories so that she can be 'skinny'!" one hears in the undertones of the entire marketing campaign). But I think that Msgr. Pope has identified the most telling aspect of the ad when he writes:
As the commercial rolls on, I think we see that we have lost a lot. The picture flashes away from the elegantly dressed woman, careful for modesty and dignity (though excessively portrayed), to the modern scene where we are suppose to rejoice and approve at how far women have come.

And what do we see? Half drunk women, with painted nails and flip flops, liquor bottles in abundance, and the indelicate and boorish behavior of those who have been drinking too much. Further there are numerous displays of immodest dress, immodest posture and unbecoming behaviors. In effect, if you ask me, it is a celebration of all in our culture that is boorish, immodest, indelicate, and excessively informal.
[Hat tip to J.M.]

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