That is the subject of next week’s mag article.
It’s not just Alexa, though. It’s Olivia Palermo, Daisy Lowe, Lauren Conrad, Whitney Port, Kate and Pippa Middleton, Kim Kardashian, Miranda Kerr, Lara Bingle, Edie Sedgwick and all those women have pushed down on our throats on a daily basis as interesting, aspirational, sparky and fabulous… all by virtue of the fact that they are beautiful and wear clothes well.
Don’t get me wrong - I love me some Alexa (and Olivia and Daisy…) as much as the next ladymag reader. When I first saw her photos floating around the internet back in 2008 or so, I was entranced. There’s just something about her that draws the eye. The woman oozes “cool”. Yet it is a coolness that is not consequence of what she does but of how she looks.
It’s like Caitlin Moran writes in my favourite chapter of How To Be A Woman, about her teen desire to be first a princess, then a muse:
I wanted to be a muse. I wanted to be a muse quite badly. To be so incredible that some band wrote a song about me, or some writer based a character on me, or a painter produced canvas after canvas of me, in every mood, that hung in galleries around the world. Or even a handbag. Jane Birkin inspired a handbag. By way of contrast I would happily have settled for my name on a plastic Superdrug bag.
Because that’s what most of the famous-for-being-famous women we admire are - or at least the reason they’re sold to us as being worthy of admiration. Muses, elevated for their faultless embodiment of different personas of femininity. And it makes me profoundly uncomfortable, in the same way that the businesswomen who are so often promoted to us are promoted on the basis that they produce products that will help us look, dress and smell like these women (here in the UK, you will often read about how “fragrant” the Middletons are).
And yet, I also feel somewhat conflicted about my discomfort. I’m not against aesthetics, after all - I once moved into a house based primarily on the fact that I liked my future housemates’ decor (which turned out to be a fairly decent indicator of broader compatability), and I recoil every time I have dress in a manner that doesn’t feel “like me”.
I’m open to the idea that the ability to put together a “look” is a form of self-expression worth celebrating, like music, literature, or fashion design. And I’m also conscious that - in some of the above cases, at least - the problem isn’t that the women themselves aren’t worth celebrating, so much as it is the things we celebrate about them.
And yet, it still makes me uncomfortable. I’m going to chat to a whole bunch of folks about this next week to get my thoughts in better order (and hopefully to a place of greater insight), but to help me along that journey, I’d like to first throw it out to you.
Does “it girl lust” make you uncomfortable? Do you wish we had more substantial role models, or that we celebrated more substantial things about our role models? What do you think is the appeal of these ladymag staples?