Kim Kardashian West is perched on a chair. She’s not quite sitting; instead, she’s pushing her hands into the armrests then leaning against the cushion. Her figure is grotesque: above her generous hips rests an already small waist, tightened beyond belief thanks to a flesh-coloured corset. She addresses the camera. “Anna, if I don’t sit down for dinner, now you know why. I’ll be walking around mingling, talking, but I can hardly sit …” – she tries to sit, she can’t – “I can only half-sit.”
The Anna in question is Vogue’s Wintour and the dinner is the Met Gala’s, which took place in May. The video the quote is from was posted on 7 May, and has been watched more than 21m times since then. Perhaps she was right not to sit; a few weeks later, actor Elle Fanning attended a dinner at Cannes where she fainted and fell off her chair. Her dress, a vintage Prada gown with a corseted waist, was too tight.
It isn’t simply about body ideals, or the heavily restricted boundaries of what constitutes an attractive female form
Earlier this month Kylie Jenner posted a picture of her nails on Instagram. They were tie-dye, presumably acrylics, and absurdly long. How long is absurdly long? There aren’t universal rules about this of course, but if your nail goes on for around an inch after your finger ends, it seems fair to assume that your ability to go about your day normally will be limited.
The picture itself was unremarkable, as talons have been a social media staple for a while now, but it does not exist in a vacuum. Between garments so tight that their female wearers can barely move and nails so long they cannot do much with their hands, a new image of femininity emerges. It isn’t simply about body ideals or the heavily restricted boundaries of what constitutes an attractive female form; class and labour are other dynamics worth looking at.
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