Armed with little but a pneumatic chest and a smart mouth, Katie Price had managed to elude accusations of being a feminist icon until around 2004, when her appearance on ITV reality show ‘I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here’ propelled her into the ante-room of debate that precedes such an honour.
At the time, I was going through the ‘radical’ phase in my feminist education and responded to the whole sorry mess with a scathing critique of what I perceived to be the calculated intellectualisation of pop culture by serious journalists, who had quickly realised that Ms Price’s jungle adventures were providing almost 93% of their tabloid rivals’ content and felt the need to get in on the action. Oddly, my essay was not considered to be the defining word on the matter, but it gladdens my heart to see what a fun kid I was back then.
A lot has happened in the intervening seven years. Price married and divorced Peter Andre, had two kids, brought out several books, took up dressage, became a perfumier, married and divorced a cage fighter and filmed almost all of it for ITV2. Impressive stuff, but the issue of her role in the feminist debate has yet to be clarified.
It’s bound to be on her ‘To Do’ list.
Until she gets to it, we (far less efficient) women can but sift through the evidence. Whether we like it or not, millions of females would consider Price representative of how they themselves would like to be perceived; powerful, clever, sexual and free. But while these aspirations aren’t that far removed from traditional feminist ideology, Price’s continual efforts to resculpt her form into ever more alarming shapes preclude her from gaining the ‘ist’ that people seem so desperate to hang upon her. Feminine, yes. Feminist? Ummm…. no.
It is in the happy little gap between these two concepts that Price currently plies her wares. We have all grown up with the same pointers as to what makes a woman attractive. We have all been subject to the same advertising, the same soft-porn in movies and magazines, and with a few tweaks in either direction, the general consensus is that women with big breasts, non-existent bellies and smooth surfaces are the be-all and end-all of femininity.
Whatever her motivation, the simple truth remains that feminism is about teaching young women to be proud of their individuality, both physically and mentally. Price clearly is, but her method of demonstrating it says nothing to women except that in order to truly flourish in this world, they must adhere to a stringent and unforgiving physical criteria before they will be powerful enough to do what they want. For as long as popular culture continues to perpetuate this myth, women like Price will always, however vilified in the press, remain representative of strong, powerful females to most.
Which is another way of saying, we get the icons we deserve, no?
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