The website of Dorothy Jane Mills

The website of Dorothy Jane Mills

Blog: Aug. 14, 2013


A lot of catalogs arrive in my mailbox every day. That's because I buy a lot of things through catalogs, or online, since I'm not as mobile as I once was.

In looking through the catalogs I received recently, I realized that something was bothering me about the models, something that seemed unnatural. I finally realized what it was: The models never do anything.

A few in the Pendleton catalog carry flowers, or their eyeglasses, or a purse. One went so far as to hold a few books, although she wasn't reading, and another hinted at activity by carrying a couple of pencils and a pad, but nobody in the entire catalog actually did anything at all. This is supposed to show American women as they really are?

Despite the obvious suitability of many Pendleton outfits for business wear, not one of these women was shown leaning over a desk to look at a document, or typing something on a computer, or grabbing a file from a file cabinet, or standing before a group to use a whiteboard or to present a PowerPoint talk, or reading a book or document, or consulting with a colleague. They were all standing or sitting, smiling at us or at some other model, and just loafing.

I've never known any America women like these women. Everyone I know is busy doing something. If not working in an office, they are engaged in some other type of work. At the very least, they carry bags of groceries to the car. They shepherd children on trips. They even pump their own gas. Not these models. They show us their beautiful teeth, and that's all.

Just to be sure I wasn't hallucinating, I checked two other catalogs, Appleseed and Metrostyle. In the Appleseed catalog I found one woman who was doing something (walking her dog) and another who carried a watering can, thus hinting that she was thinking of doing something. But all the other models scorned activity of any kind. They were ladies of leisure. One carried a paper cup, but she was not on a coffee break at the office, she was outdoors enjoying the sunshine.

As for the Metrostyle catalog, the models kept busy thinking up sexy poses, for none of them could be found doing anything else. Thinking up sexy poses obviously took up all their time. They kept thin, I believe, by avoiding coffee breaks and groceries entirely. These Metrostyle models were serious about projecting sensuality. No pearly whites can be found there, just pouting lips, flaring nostrils, and staring eyes, as if challenging us to make them actually do something.

To say that these catalogs present a distorted view of women's lives is an understatement. Anyone who expects to see typical American women engaged in typical American activities and wearing attractive clothing appropriate for those activities could skip looking at these catalogs. Perusing them gives the distinct impression that American women live off men and expect men to support them in their lives of constant do-nothingism.

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