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This Year's Model"Fashion, Media, and the Making of Glamour"$
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Elizabeth A. Wissinger

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780814794180

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814794180.001.0001

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The Fashionable Ideal

The Fashionable Ideal

Looking Like a Model

(p.141) 5 The Fashionable Ideal
This Year's Model

Elizabeth A. Wissinger

NYU Press

In this chapter, I explore the significance of increasingly stringent and exigent dieting, exercise, and surgery advice from the 1970s onward, highlighting how self-altering practices were cast as a means to become an acceptable member of society. It explores how the model became the ideal for the whole population. Simultaneously, however, the body’s vitality and mutability also came to be favored, as a biopolitics of beauty emerged, organizing and regulating publics at the level of population, as a standing reserve, always already in need of enhancement and optimization, ready for a close-up, in need of that makeover. In tandem with these developments, modeling work took on characteristics that prompted some of my respondents to refer to it as “the life,” a state of working that felt to many like having to be “on” all the time. In the transition from day job to total lifestyle, playing the role of being a model—sashaying about in crinolines, carrying a hatbox containing waist cinchers and war paints (the badge of the model’s trade), while ducking into movie theaters to make oneself scarce between calls—gave way to the casual street chic, “I only dress up on the runway” attitude of today, where models live the part, hiding the effort required to make looking glamourous seem easy and like something everyone should do.

Keywords:   Biopolitics of beauty, Fashion models, Affectivity, Affect, Glamour labor, Diet culture, Digitization, Fashion models, Body ideals, fashion

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