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Posts Tagged ‘Fashion’

As a sport, and as an abstract concept, badminton has always seemed pretty inoffensive. Professional badminton players do not take out super-injunctions. Badminton fans are never accused of starting riots that tarnish their country’s image abroad. For many years, badminton was the non-sporty person’s sport of choice. It was the type of Tuesday evening activity to which a man brought his wife along for a spot of mixed doubles against an equally married couple, who would argue furiously about the best way to hold a shuttlecock, and then win.

So it’s kind of surprising that the root of almost all evil appears to be lurking within the Badminton World Federation.

On June 1st, its all-male executive board is scheduled to implement new clothing regulations that force women players to wear skirts or dresses as “part of an overall campaign to raise the profile of women in badminton and the profile of the sport”.

Acceptable attire for female competitors, according to guidelines issued by badminton's governing body. The lucky ladies will also be allowed wear "skorts" or skirts over tracksuits/leggings.

It is sexy time on the back alley. (That’s a badminton term.)

The new rules have already caused uproar among Muslim players, prompting the Islamic party in Malaysia, where the BWF is based, to call for a boycott of top tournaments. Perhaps sensing that Islam has the greater experience when it comes to dress code enforcement, the BWF delayed the introduction of “Rule 19.2” by a month and “clarified” its stance: “[The new regulations] will not in any way discriminate against any religious or other beliefs, and respects women. Players will continue to wear shorts if they wish but simply wear a skirt over the top of the shorts.”

But what reason could there possibly be for making female athletes – people whose success depends on the strength of their smashes and the delicacy of their drop shots – wear a superfluous piece of fabric? I’m stumped. Could it be that the unnamed “external international marketing agency” that advised the BWF on its policy are closet Kournikova-ites?

BWF deputy president Paisan Rangsikitpho believes the new skirt rules will “enhance the presentation of the game in general” and help the sport attract “a wider target group amongst both younger and older people, and amongst both women and men, where an aesthetic and stylish presentation of the players is certainly an important factor”. The guidelines do not “push any women to wear clothing they are not comfortable with” and the BWF is certainly not portraying women as “sexual objects”, he insists.

“However, they have to wear a skirt.”

There are no double faults in badminton. Doublethink, on the other hand…

Lady shuttlers! What are you thinking wearing these hideously unfeminine items?! You'll empty the arenas in no time.

If the BWF wants to talk about style rather than sexism, allow me to examine its statement on those grounds for a moment. Its stance is that having a piece of material flouncing against their thighs (but not joining up between them) makes women athletes aesthetically pleasing enough to pull in hordes of hypothetical spectators – even though if there’s one female fashion trend that reliably infuriates the men I know, it’s skirts-over-trousers.

One of the hallmarks of the “stylish” is that their clothes are some kind of twist, with varying degrees of rebelliousness, on the norms of the context in which they are worn – usually by borrowing from the style tradition of another context. It’s a subtle negotiation. I would no more wear my high-waisted black tulip skirt to a badminton session than I would sport one of Sue Sylvester’s Adidas tracksuits to a tango class.

Badminton bosses have their sensitive eyes on the sponsor-friendly style showcase that is the ladies’ tennis tour. That’s their context. But they’ve forgotten that style, by definition, is personal. Take away the element of choice and there is no style, only a uniform. And what players and spectators alike will recognise is that this uniform is crafted from unpleasant, exploitative motivations. Come see our cuties perform!

Objections from Australia, China, Indonesia, India and the Scandinavian countries mean the BWF’s plans for world domination via the swish of a few A-lines may yet be thwarted. Worryingly though, it seems badminton isn’t the only sport where the governing bodies are seeking to glamorize and feminise women athletes in accordance with male, corporate ideas of glamour and femininity.

Even more bizarrely, the International Boxing Association is reportedly quite keen that women boxers wear skirts at the London 2012 Olympics. This has spurred Peter Taylor, father and coach of Irish boxer Katie Taylor, to put in a pre-emptive strike by telling The Examiner that his daughter simply won’t box in a skirt: “We’ve got morals that go above marketing. It’s discrimination. It’s obviously men making these decisions and it’s wrong.”

There may be alternative ways to resist, other than refusing to compete. “I have an idea for how I am going to combat it, but I’ll keep it secret for now,” the Scottish badminton player Imogen Bankier has tantalisingly said of her sport’s “silly” and “unnecessary” clothing regulations.

Perhaps all the women players could show up to the next high-ranking tournament in fishtailed maxi dresses and make a mockery of the BWF with every hobble and lurch.

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Being the unfashionable fool that I am, I gave up buying glossy ‘lady mags’ a few years ago after determining that I’d wasted enough money and brain cells on them. However, recently a friend of mine gave me a bag of old glossies and, well, it would have been rude not to read them before chucking them in the recycling bin.

While idly flicking through the 8 March issue of Grazia I saw a number of ‘tips’ that had me spluttering into my glass of vino. It turns out that all this time I had been ignoring lady mags, I had been missing out on some priceless advice for us women who worry about being fat and old all the time.

Luckily for Anti-Room readers, I’ve included some of these tips for your information.  You’ll wonder how you ever survived without these gems, such as this one included in an article on the highlights of London Fashion Week:

How simple – feeling fat and worthless? Just unpick the stitches in your favourite dress and then hold it together with bulldog clips. Why hadn’t I thought of that before? Such an easy way of distracting people from my hideous figure.

So, if you get sad every time you see an unused bulldog clip sitting forlornly on your desk, now you know what to do. Unpick your shirt, pop on a bulldog clip and voila! Instant, fat-covering glamour. If anyone in the office asks why you have a clip stuck to you, or sniggers as you walk past, assuming you’re the victim of the company prankster, be assured that you are in fact being extremely fashion-forward.

“All the gals were doing it at LFW, darling!” should be your reply, “Kate, Lara and even Cheryl!” Then flounce off smiling – just be careful the clips don’t ping off mid-flounce, showing rather more of your body than you had intended. Oh, the perils of high fashion.

I used to think that nail length is only indicative of whether you are a nail-biter or not, so imagine how stunned I was to discover this tip:

Silly me, thinking that nails were, well, nails, and have nothing to do with body shape. Hell no! I can’t believe that for the past 27 years I could have been disguising my shape by growing my nails to a certain length.  Consider me a changed woman, Grazia. No one will guess I’m a size 12 once I’ve redone these glamorous talons!

Finally, if you’re sick of your crow’s feet but fear the frozen expression that Botox tends to afflict on its users, then worry no more. The trick, according to Grazia, is using white eyeliner. Lots of white eyeliner.

Will you look like a rabbit trapped in the proverbial headlights? You may well indeed, but everyone will be so distracted by your white eyes that they won’t be looking at your crow’s feet. And as we know thanks to Grazia, anything is worth doing if it means looking thinner and younger.

Now if you don’t mind, I’m off to stick bulldog clips to my arse – I’ve heard it will make it look instantly thinner! Thanks for the inspiration, Grazia.

What are your favourite tips from women’s magazines?

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If Carrie Bradshaw can do it...

If Carrie Bradshaw can do it...

Okay, so this is frivolous, but seriously, following on from my last post about how I was going to get myself out of my rut and glam up, it’s proving more difficult than I thought. Mainly due to the weather. I spent much of my adolescence in mid-west America and the months of November through April were style-free due to the freezing cold weather. Is this how things are going to be in Ireland from now on? Frizzy hair, sopping umbrellas, coats and hats all cramping one’s style? Pah! Even with the best of intentions, I’m finding it hard to maintain my glam new self in this weather and unfortunately, floral wellies just don’t do it for me. Maybe thigh-high boots are a new sartorial option for wet weather?

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