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Has Glamour Lost Its Meaning?


Glamorous events in Glamorous places with Glamorous people wearing Glamorous outfits.

MarilynAh, the high life- the foundation upon which Hollywood is built, the stuff dreams are made of. Those dreams that hover tantalisingly close but remain firmly out of our grasp… Except for a tiny group of people who have been marked out as ‘special’, those whose beauty cannot be equalled, whose talent sets them apart, whose wealth cannot be matched.

And we cannot get enough of them.

We are drawn to them by a voyeuristic impulse to catch a glimpse into a life that is so different to our own, a means of escaping the mundane realities of our existence and living out our fantasies of glitz and glamour through the lens of the paparazzo and the pages of glossy magazines.

But this is where it gets confusing. If someone has cameras documenting their every move, or is continually papped falling out of nightclubs or in to another special someone’s arms/bed, does that make them glamorous? If they make music videos wearing jewellery worth the GNP of a small country and ARE surrounded by bikini clad beauties have they achieved glamorous status? We have certainly been led to believe so.

Today the word glamour can be applied to just about anything (see opening sentence). The only pre-requisites seem to be an exorbitant price tag and an affiliation with celebrity. As for the former, it is summed up by Fergie, of the Black Eyed Peas, in her song aptly titled ‘Glamorous’ where she describes “… flyin’ first class, up in the sky / On jet planes, living the life / In the fast lane… Chaperones and limousines, shoppin’ for expensive things…” before launching into an illuminating repetition of “The glamorous, oh the glamorous, glamorous / By the glamorous, ohh the flossy, flossy.” A quick consultation with the Urban Dictionary helpfully reveals that ‘flossy’ refers to anything “extremely flashy or showy”.

Glamour’s exclusivity is further depreciated when we consider how loose the term ‘celebrity’ has become. It is fairly well-understood that anybody can be a celebrity these days; all you need to do is date a footballer, enter a talent contest (talent optional), live in a house with 20 other people who all share your aspirations to grasp 15 minutes, give birth to multiple children (even better if you can’t afford them/father(s) unknown), or that time-honoured classic- simply attach yourself to someone who has already accomplished these lofty feats.

Perhaps the epitome of how corrupted the term ‘glamour’ has become is how it is commonly applied to the title ‘glamour model’. When did slapping on enough makeup to shame a drag queen and exposing yourself in public become glamorous? More worrying, why do so many young girls want to follow in the footsteps of Jordan and Jodie Marsh? An incomprehensible and terrifying thought is that teenage girls are growing up with Katie Price as a role model! Personally I don’t see these women as good examples but rather as horrible warnings. They are an illustration of the value our society places on fame and fortune. Let’s face it, however degrading and crude it may be, glamour modelling continues to attract young girls due to its lucrative nature and its ability to get those girls… seen.

And that is the heart of it. Dorothy Parker, the witty writer and poet, wisely and rather wryly pointed out that “there are always those who cannot distinguish between glitter and glamour”.  Unfortunately for us we seem to have been taken in by the glitter- the cheap glitz that, while it sparkles deceptively bright, rubs off easily.

So what distinguishes this inferior imitation from the real deal? Originally glamour was considered to be something otherworldly; a spell, a magical enchantment that attracted and fascinated. Although acceptance of the occult has largely disappeared from our collective psyche there is still something about the concept of captivating, yet inexplicable charm that resonates with us and appeals to our romantic sensibilities.

Glamour is therefore inextricably bound up in the unknown; it is the merest hint at possibility. The possibility of a life that is more exciting, more beautiful, more exceptional than the one we currently live. And this is why glamour modelling is not glamorous. Glamour is mystery; it is imagination and fantasy. Most celebrities will try and tell you that their lives are in reality far from glamorous. We see them dressed to the nines on red carpets and on the big screen, at awards shows and premiers but these are brief snatches of time that don’t begin to account for all the other hours of their daily lives.

So, yes, glamour is an illusion. From the very inception of the word we have recognised it as being so.  But that doesn’t mean that it is worthless or something to be underestimated or undervalued. Glamour gives us something to dream about and to aim for but when we do occasionally find ourselves experiencing it firsthand it can make us feel beautiful, confident, dignified- special. It raises us above the mundane and commonplace and allows us to believe that anything is possible.

It may be elusive and fleeting and but surely glamour is something to be protected and treasured.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. mystery permalink
    27/03/2010 15:24

    When I think of glamour I think of the 1930’s-40’s… screen sirens like Lauren Bacall and Grace Kelly had it all.


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