Friday, 19 June 2009

Clothes at a certain age

Have recently read for a book club Linda Grant's The Clothes on Their Backs, which I enjoyed but felt ultimately vaguely disappointed in, and was not alone in this feeling. Nevertheless an interesting read with something to say about how much clothes can matter to an individual, male or female. The narrator Vivian is the child of Hungarian refugees from the Nazi era, and describes growing up in a mansion flat in London with her parents. The other residents of the block are beautifully sketched in. Her family has few visitors, except once her father's brother who stayed in Hungary during the war, only escaping during the Hungarian Uprising in 1956. Her uncle and his companion's clothes are described in loving detail. The story is told by the adult, looking back to her childhood, adolescence and early womanhood, including her first brief tragic marriage. I heard Linda Grant, who also writes The Thoughtful Dresser blog talk to Catherine Hill, also a concentration camp survivor, about the importance of appearance in such appalling circumstances. The group discusing the book were of mixed opinion about the idea of the importance of clothes, but most of us cared in some way about what we wore and how we looked.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Current reads

Having recently read Susie Orbach's Bodies, I have a whole lot of questions going round in my mind. Do all women think about their bodies as some of the cases in her book do? Does it matter whether your body has a bit of cellulite, fat, curves, call it what you will, as long as it functions in the way nature intended and you want it to? I think too many young women needlessly worry too much about their bodies and its state of perfection or otherwise. I'm just grateful to have reached an age when the perfect body is harder to attain and wonder if I can be bothered. I am still healthy and fit enough to carry on doing what I want to when I want to. I have dieted a couple of times in my life, consciously, but last winter manged to lose 4 kilos in weight without dieting, just by walking a bit more and keeping whatever I ate to a reasonable portion. I wasn't aware of being or feeling deprived, since I ate and drank whatever I felt like , but just not too much of it, and the weight seems to have stayed off too. Ultimately I don't feel this book provides answers to questions, just explores the subject of our apparent dislike of our bodies.
I zipped through Gok Wan's How to Look Good Naked fairly rapidly, as its not a difficult read being mostly pictures. At least he seems to be interested in making women look better and to accept their bodies how they are. I've also watched his television shows and found the part of the show where very overweight women criticize the clothes supposedly designed for them very heartening. At least he recognises that all women want to look good, no matter what their size or shape.

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