April 16, 2016

"And she’s such a ’60s girl! She’s still faithful to the hairstyle. It’s like Jean Shrimpton...."

Said Manolo Blahnik, the shoe designer, about Mary Beard, the great writer about books on ancient Rome. He's quoted in a NYT article titled "Mary Beard and Her ‘Battle Cry’ Against Internet Trolling," which is about her self-defense against things that have been said about the way she looks. Most of the article is about her supposed "vindication of one of the rights of woman: to look, even in her 50s, like her unvarnished self." But what jumped out at me and made it bloggable was Blahnik's praise of the way she looks — the assertion that it's good and not the dreary assertion of some "right" to look bad. 

The article has quotes from "Tina Brown, the founder of the Women in the World conference (in which The New York Times is an investor)" — oh, hell — including the denouncement of Donald Trump for his "ugly" "injection of pure derogatory comments about women." Beard expounded in a sort of scholarly tone about Trump and trolls: "You could make a powerful argument that the kind of tropes in Trump’s discourse overlap with the discourse you see in trolling: about women shutting up, about menstruation." The NYT assures us that both women — Brown and Beard — displayed a sense of humor.
“This is exactly what we need more of in American feminism: wry humor,” Ms. Brown said. “The outrage meter is getting out of control.”

“It’s about talking about it,” Ms. Beard said. “It’s not being fazed. It’s about having a laugh about it. A bit of outrage is good, but having your only rhetorical register as outrage is always going to be unsuccessful. You’ve got to vary it. Sometimes, some of the things that sexist men do just deserve to be laughed at.... Go back home to mummy,” she said. “She’ll smack your bottom.”
Yes, there is too much outrage, so perhaps I should resist expressing outrage at the idea that it's funny when a woman hits a boy, that domestic violence is only serious — and then it's utterly serious — when a man hits a woman.

Anyway, here's the iconic magazine cover of Jean Shrimpton that blew our mind in 1965:



No one is really still faithful to the hairstyle. The huge back of the head "bump" reads as lunacy now. You can't have it today and be seen as Shrimpton was seen back then. The eye has changed, but in the mind's eye — in Blahnik's mind's eye — Beard is faithful to the 60s hairstyle. You have to modify things to keep them the same.

47 comments:

Walter S. said...

Just buy the book (SPQR).

Owen said...

Prof. Althouse: "No one is really still faithful to the hairstyle. The huge back of the head "bump" reads as lunacy today. You can't have it today and be seen as Shrimpton was seen back then. The eye has changed, but in the mind's eye — in Blahnik's mind's eye — Beard is faithful to the 60s hairstyle. You have to modify things to keep them the same."

Great stuff. Thanks.

Ann Althouse said...

Good idea, Walter. I just did, here.

I bought the audio version.

LarsPorsena said...

SPQR was a good (not great) book but Mary needs a hair cut.

rhhardin said...

the discourse you see in trolling: about women shutting up, about menstruation.

Nothing about reasoning?

Sebastian said...

"Yes, there is too much outrage, so perhaps I should resist expressing outrage at the idea that it's funny when a woman hits a boy, that domestic violence is only serious — and then it's utterly serious — when a man hits a woman" Yes, there is, and yes, you should. But as long as outrage is useful, it will continue. Because occasions for outrage can always be manufactured, it will. And of course actual feminism was always the doctrine that women deserve privilege, hence domestic violence committed by women doesn't count. Telling men to go get slapped is just cool non-outraged humor.

Ann Althouse said...

"And of course actual feminism was always the doctrine that women deserve privilege, hence domestic violence committed by women doesn't count."

It's interesting to think about domestic violence as a female privilege.

Ann Althouse said...

In that view — domestic violence as a female privilege — the problem with men hitting women is that they are appropriating the female role.

ALP said...

I love Mary Beard's attitude! If I were, for some unknown reason*, thrust onto the internet stage and a target for trolls who love to go after women, here is what I would do.

I'd get a few of my best friends together, we would have a few drinks and tokes off the bong, then we'd sit around and come up with "what would be the most heinous thing a troll could write about me?" We would compose the awful messages ourselves, trying to outdo each other in a competition of "who can be the most vile". I'd even buy a big old whiteboard for the event. In a matter of hours, we'll be on the floor laughing our asses off at how absurd the entire thing is. Given my own sick humor, and the sick humor of some of my friends, there is no troll in the world that could beat the stuff we'd come up with. But to be really sure, at set intervals we'd review the better trollish messages to see if anyone did top what we had composed.

*fat chance since I love anonymity.

Laslo Spatula said...

Newsweek cover: full-frontal nose holes.

I am Laslo.

rhhardin said...

Men are allowed to hold the wrists of women attempting to tickle them. Otherwise no violence.

Titus said...

excellent post.

Lana Del Ray has that hair.

rhhardin said...

There is nothing funny about feminism. Droll but lofty planet, to quote Lautreamont.

Sebastian said...

"In that view — domestic violence as a female privilege — the problem with men hitting women is that they are appropriating the female role." Interesting point, but I don't think it needs to be framed that way, since male domestic violence easily can be (and is) vilified as men being their evil selves against defenseless innocent women. Domestic violence by women against men is not the same sort of thing as objectively similar conduct by men against women. Such categorical distinctions (speaking culturally, not legalistically) underlie different forms of privilege -- these days, with active feminist support, female privilege in particular.

Paddy O said...

The amazon review section has a minor kerfuffle in it, with one reviewer making repetitive claims that the publisher paid for a number of good reviews (which is a problem Amazon definitely has and is dealing with).

Mary Beard herself shows up to push back, but the reviewer making the comments might have a good point--there are a lot of "it's a great book!" 5 star reviews---but is pretty incoherent.

Paco Wové said...

Speaking of 'trolling':

Why has The Guardian declared war on Internet freedom?

A rhetorical question if ever there was one. It's all to protect teh wimmenz, of course.

Michael K said...

"the author of more than 10 books on the classics "

Does that mean 11 ? Good grief !

The hair style was begun by Jackie Kennedy and that was the beginning of "celebrity presidents."

Odd you didn't mention that.

Of course, a lot of women liked Mamie Eisenhower's bangs but it didn't become a fashion.

William said...

I don't think there's any woman alive who has received more catty comments about her hair than Donald Trump. But in the way that domestic voiolence only pertains to men hitting women, thus so with catty comments about hair..........She's entitled to wear her hair anyway she wants. That said, isn't very long hair a bit of a bother. It looks dramatic and striking on a young woman so it's worth the trouble, but It gives an older woman a wraith like or Miss Havsham appearance.......One of the liberating effects of old age is that you care less about vanity. I make an effort to keep my hair cut short, particularly the nasal hairs, but otherwise it's not something worth fretting about.

Ann Althouse said...

"The hair style was begun by Jackie Kennedy and that was the beginning of "celebrity presidents." Odd you didn't mention that."

To me, it's odd that you put it that way. I don't read that hair as being much like Jackie's. The teased early 60s look was deemed to be over by 1965 and this looked utterly different. The teasing moved to the back top of the head and was seen as very different from the all-over bouffant of the early 60s. As for that look, I don't think it was invented for Jackie. She got it from Kenneth who already did Marilyn Monroe. He then became associated with the "natural look" in which teasing was supposedly "out." But that enlarged back-of-the-head bump had to come from somewhere. Some denial was involved there, because teasing was needed to make the hair get that big. There was mass delusion at the time in which it seemed as if the top of the head had to be heightened. You see it in historical movies of the era, that anachronistic head bump.

Ann Althouse said...

My favorite hair role model is Brigitte Bardot. I am closing in on her 1956 hairstyle.

Ann Althouse said...

Here's Bardot in 1960.

Now that is prescient of Jean Shrimpton.

I'd say Bardot led the style, not Jackie. Jackie sported "helmut hair." Bardot had the loose tousled long hair... with the big back of the head.

Ann Althouse said...

I mean "helmet."

Ann Althouse said...

Here's Helmut Hair.

AlbertAnonymous said...

At the risk of sounding like a troll, I don't think (at least in the picture attached to the article) that she's keeping the same 60s style as much as she's keeping no style. She could go to the stylist and get the 60s style look, it wouldn't be this. This looks like her 70s style (do nothing) that she's kept. If shes comfortable in it, good for her.

Bill said...

Speaking of Jean Shrimpton, I just just don't understand why the square beehive never caught on.

dustbunny said...

By the late sixties the hair was long and straight, the bump was gone, the Manson girls all had that hair, it was how your hair looked if you weren't a model or Anita Palenberg. Mary Beard's hair is more like the Manson girls than the gorgeous and rather unattainable look of
Shrimpton.
In the movie "Shampoo" warren Beatty gives Julie Christie the Shrimpton do, it was a lot of work.

Hagar said...

Those black longjohns tell me more about what a 59 years old woman looks like than I want to know.

traditionalguy said...

The hair style of Julie Christie as Lara in Doctor Zhivago still out does them all...or was it the woman wearing it? She wore it well.

buwaya puti said...

My daughter is ahead of you on the 1956 Bardot look. But I thought it was more of an Audrey Hepburn/Roman Holiday thing.
On the subject of the piece though, the appearance thing is a sideshow, the real complaint is that these people are receiving criticism for their political positions, and that they insist there shouldn't be any.
This is part of a general trend.

Laslo Spatula said...

I still can't get past those nose holes.

They seem practically indecent.

Like they're all up in your face.

Just begging for you to look.

I still can't get past those nose holes.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

That face could cause a man to develop a nose hole fetish.

She keeps daring me to stare at them.

I am weak.

I am Laslo.

Virgil Hilts said...

Ann, did you see Helen Mirren's haircut from Eye in Sky -- she looked awesome. If you do a GIS for Helen Mirren, not one of her celebrity pictures makes her look near as good as the military cut from the movie. I could see you with the same haircut.

Phil 3:14 said...

Virgil.
What are you really saying?

(or is this just Meade-bait?)

Watchful Hours said...

Adele's been known to wear her hair kind of like that.

Sebastian said...

Re MB hair: Jean Shrimpton is designer projection. Bardot, no way. Jane Birkin, maybe. Different kind of vague, if you know what I mean.

Zach said...

I don't think there's any woman alive who has received more catty comments about her hair than Donald Trump.

I once read that the combover illustrates the difference between local and global optimization. When the hair first starts to go, the combover is a little tweak that gets big results. As it continues to go, the tweaks stay small and you're always approximating the same local maximum (ie, the look where nobody can tell you're bald). Simply acknowledging the baldness looks much better (the global maximum), but you'll never get there by a series of tiny changes.

madAsHell said...

Amy Winehouse could not be reached for comment.

Michael K said...

" did you see Helen Mirren's haircut from Eye in Sky -- she looked awesome."

Terrific movie, which explains for lefties who might see it, why the military is so handicapped with 10,000 lawyers in the Pentagon.

Michael K said...

"The teased early 60s look was deemed to be over by 1965 and this looked utterly different."

I have never claimed to be an expert on the details of women's hairdos. I bow to an expert.

To me, the interest in presidents wives fashions began with Jackie, although I do recall interest in Mamie's bangs. It did not become a fashion.

Details aside, Jackie began the celebrity president era.

rhhardin said...

"Bangs are me" said Barbara Feldon.

cubanbob said...

Jean Shrimpton was once a great beauty. Now she looks a bit like Mary Beard. Aging is cruel, especially for the beautiful. The wonderful thing about not having great looks is that that is something you never have to worry about losing. I'm blessed indeed.

Michael K said...

"Aging is cruel, especially for the beautiful. "

Look at Helen Mirren at 71.

cubanbob said...

Michael K said...
"Aging is cruel, especially for the beautiful. "

Look at Helen Mirren at 71.

4/16/16, 1:48 PM

I'll give you that she hasn't aged quite as badly as most but just look up pictures of her 40 years younger.... it's still a bit cruel.
The good thing though as we get older we get less picky on what constitutes good looks for our contemporaries and near contemporaries. Mirren looks good for her age.

Brian McKim & Traci Skene said...

Just watched the Amy Winehouse documentary. Four stars. I only mention her because she embraced the "lunacy" of the head bump. I think it worked for her. (Her vile and disgusting father claimed that Amy adopted her look-- complete with exaggerated mascara-- from Latinas Amy had seen in Miami. I assume they were hookers, but maybe not.) Winehouse took a lot of flak from the fashion busybodies over her look... which earned her even more press and more notoriety and passionate fans and imitators. So... I guess it worked. Then again, she pretty much committed suicide, so... I guess it didn't.

Smilin' Jack said...

She’s still faithful to the hairstyle. It’s like Jean Shrimpton....""

Yeah! That's the first thought I had on seeing that photo of Jean Shrimpton: "Wow! She looks just like Mary Beard!"

Ann Althouse said...

"Ann, did you see Helen Mirren's haircut from Eye in Sky -- she looked awesome. If you do a GIS for Helen Mirren, not one of her celebrity pictures makes her look near as good as the military cut from the movie. I could see you with the same haircut."

Yes, that's a nice hairstyle. It's a little hard actually living with a chunk of a section like that though, with the side part and nothing layered, no bangs. You'll end up either with it behind your ear or with a very annoying tendency to flip your head back, which I can tell you from experience, people attribute meaning to — arrogance or flirtation or something — not the need to get your hair off your eye.

blogstupidgirl said...

Let's face it: Mary Beard looks terrible. Her clothes sense is downright comical, and if you're going to wear long hair at her age, you need to 1) comb it: and 2) get a good haircut that leaves the ends even. Some older women (Gloria Steinem) can wear their hair long to flattering advantage, and gray hair can also be flattering, especially if you have an English Rose complexion, as Beard does. But you need to take care of that hair.

Beard's style is Basic Lady Professor. Every college campus, especially in Britain abounds with female profs who look and dress exactly like Mary Beard: the no-makeup, the straggly hair left over from 1969, the ghastly and/or eccentric dress. The ladies' excuse, like Beard's, is that they're too preoccupied with their cutting-edge research to pay attention to such frivolous matters as clothes and eyeliner. Plus, it's sexist to notice such things.

If I were Beard, I'd respond to critics not with that hoary feminist claptrap, "Men are intimidated by smart women." Men aren't intimidated by smart women. They simply don't like them, because 99 percent of smart women feel compelled to throw their big brains into men's faces. Its obnoxious, and it gets tiresome. If I were Beard, I'd just laugh it off. I'd say, "I know I'm no great shakes in the looks department, and I know I'm eccentric--but hey--I'm a Cambridge professor! We're supposed to be eccentric!"