Wednesday, September 23, 2009

21. What Self-Empowered Women Wear

Dear Followers,

By now you probably realize that Coco Chanel (who died in 1971 at age 87) could be the prototypical Self-Empowered Woman. She easily had at least 14 of the 17 traits that I write about in the book. Now, in addition to Lifetime TV's Coco Chanel movie that starred Shirley MacLaine, a new French film should be opening near you this month. "Coco Before Chanel" stars Audrey Tatou, was directed by Anne Fontaine, and sold over a million tickets when it played in France last year.

Chanel (like Fontaine) was a self-taught authoritarian woman who was determined to follow her own path. If you are as intrigued by her as I am, get your hands on "The Gospel According to Coco Chanel (Life Lessons From the World's Most Elegant Woman)" by Karen Karbo and Chesley McLaren.

I was ready to write about the effect she had on women's wardrobes (she eliminated corsets, introduced the use of flannel and other "inappropriate" fabrics, turned her back on ruffles, feathers and sequins, and introduced the shoulder bag so women's hands would be free). But then I ran across an article in (my beloved) New York Times that reminded me that how we dress really does affect how we think and how we act.

According to Sabrina Tavernise, women in Mingora, Pakistan are celebrating the fact that the Taliban has left the Swat Valley. Their departure means that women can return to public life again, and no longer have to wear Burqas. Women in this part of Pakistan, which is less tribal than West Pakistan, are rejoicing that they can walk to the market, and buy shoes, cosmetics and other items that were outlawed when the Taliban was in control. According to Tavernise, "The Burqa was not the worst of women's troubles, but it was one of the most public displays of what the Taliban wanted of women - that they horses with blinders on, women lost their peripheral vision."

Sharisa Rehman
who teaches at Sangota Girls School now that the Taliban have been defeated, summed up her time under their rule when she had to wear a burqa by saying "I was bound like a prisoner."

No matter how bad your day has been, celebrate the fact that you don't have to look, feel, or be invisible. Looking forward to your comments...

1 comment:

  1. 14 of 17 (at least) is very striking. What does it mean that many of the subjects in the book have just a few of the traits, but someone like Chanel has almost all?