|~Janis Joplin's 1965 Porsche 356c Cabriolet~|
*********************************************************Last week, my husband and I took a trip to Cleveland, Ohio and visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. While Jerry was scrutinizing a Les Paul prototype, drooling over Joey Kramer's drum kit, and schooling me throughout our visit on the various types of guitar pick-ups, bridges, and design elements, I was chasing fashion, camera poised and ready to shoot!
|~Supremes (1969, designer Bob Mackie)~|
Recently, the music industry's relentless double standard regarding the female artist's image has come under fire. Women in the industry are very often objectified, their beauty scrutinized, and their musical talents under valued in favor of a more idealized (or rather marketable) image. Of course, this is nothing new. When Cass Elliot died in 1974, the news media quickly spread that she had choked on a ham sandwich while eating in bed, when in fact she has died of a heart attack. Throughout her life and music career, Elliot had struggled with her weight, often crash dieting, which likely weakened her heart - she died at 32. It was the same for Ann Wilson (Heart), who equally struggled with her weight and often starved herself to stay thin. In the mid-1980s, when Heart made their comeback, the band was not at the center of the media's attention, but rather Ann Wilson's significant weight gain. Capitol music executives were afraid that Wilson's obesity would damage Hearts' sexy and sultry image, especially since it was the age of MTV and video often killed the radio star. When music videos for Heart were filmed, Wilson was shot at alternative angles to disguise her weight.
|~Cass Elliot (1969, gifted by Michelle Phillips)~|
In contrast, who in the entertainment industry ever cared to wage an image campaign against John Popper (in his early days with the Blues Travelers) or Meat Loaf (Marvin Aday), both who are as grossly obese as Elliot and Wilson? No one. In fact, when Popper suffered a heart attack in 1999 and underwent gastric bypass surgery shorty after, he received from the media nothing short of praise and accolades for his brave life change. And what about Meat Loaf, who's still a pretty BIG fella? Not a foul word from the media or music industries about his physical largess. But then again, Marvin Aday is no Lady Gaga, so his weight is of little consequence to his image.
|~Stevie Nicks (1980-81; designer Margi Kent)~|
But don't lose heart - fashion has always been a fairly accurate predictor of women's liberation, politically and socially; and in recent history, music, arguably more than any other medium, has shaped our personal and cultural identity, in how we think, in how we feel, in how we act, and in how we dress. In other words, music is the front man for social change...
So, rock on, sisters! Blessings and happy sewing!