Part-time Bastard: Picture politics
Last week, when I was getting my byline photograph taken for the right-wing rag I write for, the pretty blonde girl from L’Oreal doing my make-up said it was “brainlessly easy” to photograph for this paper. Basically, there are only two key looks for women (Stepford or battered wife), and it saves make-up artists a tonne of money because they only photograph women with particular "skin tones” (they get specialists in to do people like Alexandra Burke). She also does a lot of corporate photographs for us and the suits are always "really, really shiny" so she gets to nick stuff like pressed powder from the studio. At this point she dabbed my nose with this same pressed powder. It was pretty refreshing to meet more of a sellout than me – which is why in my picture I’m laughing like a goon.
Following her advice, this week I decided to focus on pitching some picture-led stories to snare some more column inches. As it’s late summer and everyone’s pretty bummed about the weather, my editor told me to take on more of a philosophical bent than usual, and focus on bodies as well as clothes.
My first commission was to write a caption-led piece for the website about whether a selection of women dress their age. It was simple enough – Helen Mirren looking fit in a bikini is acceptable because it has two straps and she looks embarrassed; Carla Bruni looking fit in a white swimsuit is not OK because she has children and is French.
As a rule, with stuff about fashion or bodies, we have to sit on a story until at least one non-rival national, a local and/or BBC Breakfast have run a story about it so it's mainstream enough. Then, having garnered the nation's consensus from the other media outlets, either pick at the offending item of clothing or, if you can buy the item of clothing through our website shop, celebrate it. If it’s worn by a celeb, then great. But, as a rule, stuff is not OK when it’s been worn by "moon-faced Mischa Barton" or "wild child Pixie Geldof" because they both look well smacky and thus render all sorts of nice clothes unwearable.