THE CHARACTERIZATION OF WOMEN
by Jeremy Danté
marilyn monroe. iconic, beautiful and dumb. the ways that the industry has categorized or portrayed women has been historically flawed, as well as one dimensional. the cultural backlash? the glass ceiling. if these elements strike no chord in you, you can stop reading now. in any space of beauty, women are required to be involved. in these conversations, women and the ways that they are represented will forever dominate. fashion week begins in a mere few days, and i always think of that one question that is asked to designers during pre and post show interviews. ‘who is this woman, this season?’ they ask designers. the creatives begin to spur details or visions, an idea of who this woman is, where she’s going, what she wears, what powers that be make up this character. it’s these ‘women‘ that make the fashion market. they are the ones walking the catwalk, the ones sitting at the edge of the runway. these are the women who decide what will be put in women’s magazines, on the bodies of other women, for more women to see. then women see these women, and buy. circulation and economic status follows, the cycle ends somewhere between the catwalk and the cash register after threads end up on a sale rack somewhere. let’s explore this idea of ‘women’.
the subject of debate, the object of affection, the reality of a dream, the dream hoping to become a reality- this is what women are, to the core. the basis of this site, my notes and my interests- are women. sitting on top of billboard? women. mothers, sisters, wives, leaders- women! i’ve made my regard for women apparent here, and with no qualms in the process. my list of most stylish music videos is evidence of my own influence of women in music. negative portrayals of women have recently risen to fame, in the form of the ‘basketball wives’ franchise. which pits women against one another, exploiting their high priced relationships, and more often their simple associations within these social circles. through a reality tv twist, the real women become fixtures labeled as victims who, in many cases, have victimized themselves by involving themselves in such games with players. while the most recent season of basketball wives has drawn back on the negativity to shed light on the good of these relationships; there is still a struggle between the ways that women are portrayed, the way women act and the ways that women should be represented, with character, in the media. beauty is perception, so that whole idea can be talked down to the ground and we’ll have to agree to disagree. im speaking specifically to the idea that women can be anything we want them to be. they are, probably, the most versatile beings of the human race. there is an allure there. whether a bold chick or the soft spoken socialite, from evelyn lozada to kim kardashian- these women create and break markets.
before the age of reality tv, women with real talent were paving the way. take the greatest american female icon of film, marilyn monroe. portrayed as the dumb blonde, marilyn was president of her own production company, marilyn monroe productions, which seen her gain creative control of her career, a major mark of success in hollywood by a female. marilyn monroe productions was created in 1955, established with 101 shares of stock. ms. monroe controlled 51 of those shares, while planning to star in every film selected by the company. over the course of her career, monroe studied at the actors studio and was regarded as a truly gifted actress, though having been limited by typecasting. she held film contracts with 20th century fox and columbia pictures and even studied at UCLA, taking courses in art and literature during her career. at the time of her death, marilyn had secured a deal with 20th century fox, which would see her earn $1 million per picture. in addition, marilyn had fired her agent and was over seeing her own negotiations at the time, as president of marilyn monroe productions. the actress had even been in final talks to do a four film deal in italy, which would see her earning as much as $10 million, along with directorial, script and casting approval. as a publicity powerhouse, marilyn orchestrated press domination during her final months, utilizing her sex symbol image to intentionally upstage her rival, elizabeth taylor; landing covers and approving half nude spreads for life, cosmopolitan and vogue magazine. a genius of image, and a master classed actress with influence far greater than any other female in the history of film; marilyn was just a dumb blonde.
the typecasting of women has single handedly created a backlash of cultural events that continue to opress women and stand as an obstacle in their journey’s of success. the most interesting component of this typecast phenomenon is that of image. as the new fashion season draws near, think about the ways that women either are or aren’t being represented on the runway. observe the ways in which these characters are being brought to life as instruments, components or staging of image. inversely, whether male or female, look at the ways in which you are being typecast. through elements of your own image, the ways that you represent yourself. the magic of image, and the magic of self is our ability to control those aspects. while we’ve learned lessons from people like marilyn, image is powerful, but that’s just the surface. the real sense of power comes from within, comes from our realization of the control that we posses in what we choose to do or to become. the lesson here is to learn how to develop into the characters we’ve always wanted to become. to represent that, totally, in order to become our greatest, self-actualized selves. these characters triumph over any amount of fame or notoriety as true success. how are you best playing the role of yourself?