By Lucinda Marshall
29 November, 2006
The November issue of the magazine
Marie Clare did an outstanding job of in remedying the media’s
woeful lack of coverage of the impact of war on fashion. With several
hard-hitting articles and a photo spread, MC gives this aspect of war
reporting it’s proper due.
The magazine scored a real
coup by getting the first print interview ever with Lynndie England
since her incarceration for her role in Abu Ghraib. The first paragraph
immediately gives us what we want to know,
“Lynndie England smells
like soap. She rubs her hands constantly, and her cuticles are raw and
nearly bleeding. Her hair is pulled back in four tortoiseshell clips,
and it’s streaked with premature gray. She is no longer the waiflike
girl with a devilish grin who appeared in the infamous Abu Ghraib photos.
On this warm fall afternoon, England, 23, now 30 pounds heavier, wears
short-sleeve Army fatigues and black, waffle-soled boots. Her name is
stitched across her chest. Dangling from her waist is a yellow-and-white
badge that reads, “Prisoner”.”
There you have it, what she
smells like, the condition of her hair and nails, what she is wearing,
her footgear and an allusion to Hester Prynne.
Fortunately, the author had
the good sense to abandon the glam objectification genre after the first
paragraph and the rest of the piece actually does a fine job of looking
at who England is, not what she looks like.
But wait, there’s more,
much more. A back page piece about Army Major Tammy Duckworth addresses
issues first. But then, suddenly remembering the publication for whom
she is writing, the interviewer asks the inevitable, “What are
the fashion challenges?”. Duckworth answers with a joke about
her missing legs being her excuse for wearing larger size pants and
that yes of course she is sad that she can’t wear the latest high-wedge
heels, but that is nothing “compared to being alive”.
The magazine also has an
interesting article about women newscasters in the Middle East, talking
about a Saudi woman who went public with pictures of herself after she
was assaulted by her husband. But when they interview reporter May Chidiak,
who lost a leg and an arm in a car bombing in Beirut, we learn that
with a cane, she can wear high heels. She can already handle 2 inch
heels, her goal is the 4-inchers.
Finally, there is the photo
spread that perhaps should have been titled, “Runway: Iraq”,
in which Marie Claire features the wives of soldiers showing off the
latest fashions. Kristi McCoy, wife of a soldier named James, is shown
wearing a $2455 Prada dress along with a Catherine Angiel necklace prices
at $1340. At least the sidebar says she is wearing this, it is apparently
hidden by the baby she is holding who curiously is clad only in a diaper.
As Anna Froula, a doctoral candidate at the University of Kentucky who
first noticed this curious edition of MC points out, it is truly peculiar
to photograph these women in clothes they could not possibly afford
on the pay their spouses make in the military.
This sorry objectification
of the role of women in the context of militarism does however illustrate
the expanding number of visual archetypes that we now have of women
in war. Indeed, today’s imagery goes far beyond Rosie the Riveter.
The wives and sweethearts left behind, England, Duckworth, Jessica Lynch,
as well as Iraqi and Afghani women have now become the feminine archetypes
of militarism. As Froula makes clear in her research about England and
Lynch, we need to do some serious deconstructing of the images of these
women that have been presented to us by the media and the military in
order to really see the truth of how women participate in militarism
and how that impacts their lives.
is a feminist artist, writer and activist. She is the Founder of the
Feminist Peace Network, www.feministpeacenetwork.org. Her work has been
published in numerous publications in the U.S. and abroad including,
Counterpunch, Alternet, Dissident Voice, Off Our Backs, The Progressive,
Countercurrents, Z Magazine , Common Dreams and Information Clearinghouse.
She blogs at WIMN Online.
Share Your Insights