Labels. SCREW ‘EM. The lot of them. Tall, short, fat, thin, rich, poor, black, white…as human beings we go beyond our labels. A label might make it easier to identify a person by certain qualities, it in no way goes to the core of who they are or what they do. Some labels are just words bandied around by others to create a cliche of the generations. Like we did in high school; Regina Georges and the Cady Herons, fashioned to pigeon hole a select group of people into some “cool” category the rest of us must aspire to. Case in point the word; ICON. Who determines an icon? What makes one an icon? These used to be easily answered questions back in the day but not too long ago, before every generic reality TV starlet in a pretty frock became one. Give or take the odd sex tape.
The definition of the word Icon is as follows;
“A person or thing regarded as a representative symbol of something”
To this end we can safely say, Kate Moss is a fashion icon, she defines an era and has remained relevant today, there isn’t an area of fashion she hasn’t influenced, love her or laothe her, give or take a few scandals, she remains today, an icon. Elizabeth Taylor was and still is an icon, if you love her please don’t ever watch Liz and Dick the cacophonous cantankerous catastrophe (say that really fast five times) of a biopic starring Lindsay Lohan, nine husbands and however many scandals her bottom-line still remains as iconic today as it was when she was alive. Anna Wintour is an icon, she pretty much defines the word in the grand scheme of things. Angela Merkel, Michelle Obama, Queen Elizabeth…are all icons for this generation and will remain so for generations to come. Long after they are gone.
“Icons” of today, not so much, they are conferred with the title for fitting into a generic. Nothing particularly unique,
And then there is feminism, a label which must remain iconic to be relevant. And despite the nonsensical remarks of Carla Bruni Sarkozy, we do need them. Now more than ever. There needs to be a redefinition of the word to enforce its meaning because the work is far from over. Her remarks are borne of ignorance and an aloofness. But of course she would utter such ludicracy; she comes from an affluent family, made a living off her looks and married a rich man, the President of one of the wealthiest countries in the Western World, so far be it for her to understand the role feminism has played, in her life even. As Nora Ephron pointed out in her address to her alma mater Wellesley College in 1996, in her days at the College, women were expected to be a certain way, “the thing in the middle, a lady…to spend her life making nice…to do exactly what she is supposed to do”. The words of Nora Ephron, echo the truths of the lives of women like Carla Bruni Sarkozy, who was a first lady in the life of a “big” man so being the “heroine of her life” was never intended. She is, in her words, a bourgeoisie, therefore her reality would be as disjointed as it is jaded but that is no excuse for her lack of common sense at best.
The Bank Of England has never had a female governor in the 300 years of its existence, women are still very much underpaid in the work force compared to their male counterparts, girls still suffer worse fate in certain parts of the world, where education for the girl child is seen as a privilege and not a right, remember Malala, rape is still being treated like its the woman’s fault and in some cultures a woman raped would be stoned to death for bringing shame into her family and our rights remain at the mercy of men in power. I’m sorry Carla did you say something? We can do with more feminists even more so from your generation. Feminism is more than just lyricism, much more than just a label, its what binds us together. And its not just for the upper echelons of society, in Birmingham recently a group of 174 women, mostly unskilled workers, won a court of appeal decision in an equal pay case brought against its employer, Birmingham City Council, because they’d been denied bonuses which often went to male colleagues and been underpaid by a wider margin in comparison…In the 21st century. What was that you said again Carla?
Who is an icon? This is a hard sell because everyone is, so nobody really is. The word has become redundant but its a matter of personal opinion, who influences one may not necessarily influence the other and in my opinion, it should be determined by the generation they have influenced and the significance of that influence and not because one wears pretty clothes, gets naked or has some kind of “cool” quirk. And it certainly shouldn’t be based on a popularity contest.