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Monday, February 13, 2012

The World According To Lagerfeld

"Celebrated" fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld of the House of Chanel (clearly, I'm not one of those celebrating, as I have no interest in women's fashion) has made his feelings clear regarding Adele, the barely-in-her-20's singer from the UK who has, judging by both her record sales and critical acclaim, taken the music world by storm this past 2011.

She's too fat.

(Photo courtesy of weheartit.com)

Let me rephrase; the exact words were "a little too fat".

As if the insertion of the qualifier "little" makes it less uncouth and rude.

(See more here: http://www.newstrackindia.com/newsdetails/2012/02/12/267479-Adele-a-little-too-fat-says-designer-Karl-Lagerfeld.html)

It doesn't matter that Adele is a heavy favorite - pun intended in this sad, twisted context - to make a sweep of the Grammys. It doesn't matter that people I know are genuinely surprised to see a Caucasian girl upon their first time seeing the video of "Rollin' In The Deep", her soulful voice seemingly suggesting otherwise. It doesn't matter that Billboard has made her the Artist of the Year.

All that matters to Lagerfeld, one of the fashion world's heavy-hitters, was that Adele was too rotund for his taste.

The backlash over cyberspace was felt almost immediately, with showbiz news outfits reporting online slogans like "If you like Adele, boycott Chanel" as the response of fans incensed by Lagerfeld's remarks. In fact, Lagerfeld himself has issued a retraction/apology - I'm not really certain that it was either - saying his remarks were taken out of context. And Adele, in a recent interview, also made it clear that she never aspired to look like the women in magazines, and that she is comfortable with herself, representing the majority of  real women in the world.

Let me make one thing clear: it is a fact that obesity has increased, at alarming rates, and that we should all strive to lead healthier lives, if only to enjoy a better quality of life. Many of our fatal diseases are preventable through changes in physical activities and diets. Childhood obesity, in particular, is on the rise, given our propensity for "fast foods" and lack of exercise, aided in no small part by computers and devices that do all the work for us. Striving to be healthy is a goal that could save one's life, and that is to be lauded and promoted.

But to publicly humiliate a person for her perceived size - what else is a remark like Lagerfeld's supposed to achieve? - is not at all in that category, or even universe. He is not her doctor, and is in no position to judge her health. His very statement is focused on how she looks, and not one motivated by a concern for her health.

I suppose his statement is not really surprising. Long revered as one of the "godfathers" of the fashion world, Lagerfeld has been part and parcel of a superficial, egotistical world, the ones responsible for dictating what it is that women see in fashion magazines, both online and in print, and what is supposedly deemed "desirable" - like that model with a 20 inch waist. The industry, one that is worth billions of dollars, preaching to all that failure to buy a particular dress or not undergoing a certain surgical procedure to "enhance" one's looks will spell your doom and destruction, in the social sense.

So his gaffe of negating Adele's magnificent vocal prowess is par for the course: he, like anyone else deluded in that preposterous world of equating the size of their waist with their self worth, can no longer see other humans as multi-faceted creatures that are complex, deep and reverberating a profound inner life. Dreams, talents, aspirations, fears - none of these concepts factor in for someone who has made it his mission in life to tell women to be dissatisfied with how they are naturally endowed.

In place, they would impose their tyranny of all women looking the same, with the body measurements of mannequins - if they had their way.

That really is the point I rail against: this notion that women have to achieve a certain look and size in order for them to be able to feel good about themselves. (And to also wear the wares they peddle.) That women should consider themselves as "failures" if they look even the slightest bit different from the "perfect women" who strut down the catwalks during Fashion Week.

Or a little too fat.

I have only recently seen pictures of Adele plastered all over. My first connection with her - and judging by her sweep of the just concluded Grammys, it will continue - has always been to her music. She made reference in her acceptance speech (as predicted, she won all the major Grammy awards) why her music seemed to connect with people, intimating that songs  like "Rollin' In The Deep" hit on something we've all been familiar with - "a rubbish relationship".

It is something that speaks of anguish, self searching, and of epiphanies about relationships, the shared human experience, and life itself.

I've always believed that an inner life, one that is content with herself and is at peace, will always exhibit radiance on the outside.

(Photo courtesy of www.dailymail.co.uk, a preview of the March 2012 cover of Vogue featuring the Grammy winning singer.)

And here is Lagerfeld's version of radiance.

(Photo courtesy of gawker.com)

Judging from Lagerfeld's statement, it would seem that the fashion insider is, for once, in a world where the internal life is valued supremely over one's outer shell, an outcast.

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