Finding exactly the right words to express my thoughts is something that I’m working on. Part of the reason I’m sitting here tap tapping away. I get bowled over on occasion by the eloquence and insightfulness that can flow out of the mouths and minds of others. So in light of that I thought I’d begin another little regular series of posts on the fabulous quotes of others. But this will be a little spasmodic, just when they come up. This one popped into my head this morning, completely out of the blue!
Spoken by the character Miranda Priestly portrayed by Meryl Streep in the hugely successful 2006 film “The Devil Wears Prada”. If you have been living in a back water and missed this film, it is a representation of the fashion industry, in particular the world of high fashion and glossy aspirational magazines. The original book was written by Lauren Weisberger a former personal assistant to Anna Wintour the editor of US Vogue and allegedly the inspiration for the character of Priestly.
This whole film is very illuminating in its depiction of this fantastical world. No matter what your stance on fashion, how much credence you pay it, if you really view it objectively, you have admit…. she may be a nasty piece of work…. but she is right.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzu-RgorcSo&w=560&h=315]
“Miranda Priestly: [Miranda and some assistants are deciding between two similar belts for an outfit. Andy sniggers because she thinks they look exactly the same] Something funny?
Andy Sachs: No. No, no. Nothing’s… You know, it’s just that both those belts look exactly the same to me. You know, I’m still learning about all this stuff and, uh…
Miranda Priestly: ‘This… stuff’? Oh. Okay. I see. You think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select… I don’t know… that lumpy blue sweater, for instance because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue. It’s not turquoise. It’s not lapis. It’s actually cerulean. And you’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent… wasn’t it who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it, uh, filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff. ”
The Devil Wears Prada, 2006
But what I’m interested in is…. Why? Why is it like that? Should it be like that? Is this a healthy way for our societies to be structured? Surely there is nothing wrong with Andy choosing a jumper based upon a light hearted thought of oooo… I like that blue! Perhaps there’s not? After all it is Andy’s ignorance of the bigger picture that Miranda is really pointing out, and what Miranda perceives as Andy’s positioning herself as above it all, although she also manages to take a decent swipe at her sartorial choices whilst she is about it.
Human societies are innately image driven, and they have always been. I believe in following any path you wish in the expression of your identity. But never be foolish enough to believe that the antics of the rest of the world have no effect on you.
Super complicated the societies we humans create, non?