Monika Jagaciak Is the New Dorian Gray


The bodies we prefer to watch are miniscule. The bodies that we prefer to ripen are enormous. If you’re attempting to make sense of this, give up. Train the lens of your cleverness on something that deserves your attention.

It is to the injury of your erudition if you never became a Buffy buff, so I am dependably told by persons of my approximate age. "Buffy. It’s the apogee of television," said a mate of mine with the sort of pure conviction effectively used to feed persons Kool-Aid. "It’s a rich text," said another with the sort of pure conviction effectively used to feed persons bullshit in a university cultural studies department.

I never saw the appeal, myself. Nonetheless, I’m prepared to concede that I have been mistaken.

Beyond the obvious appeal of blood sucking and ethical murder, I’m told, the real charm of Buffy lay in its unfaltering structure. The Buffyverse, it seems, was more watertight than the furry kingdoms of Tolkien could ever hope to be. Buffy gave her consumers bloody certainty. Buffy had internal logic. This is much, much more than can be said for the world beyond warlocks, Warcraft and Whedon.

Although it is unlikely that I will ever attend a convention dressed like a buxom Centaur, I do understand the lure of purest escapism. It affords sense in an era in which there is no sense. Consider the odd facts and the peculiar way they publicly play.

Australians are rapidly becoming the chunkiest of all earth’s creatures. Late last year, the OECD’s Health at a Glance report confirmed that which an amble through any shopping mall might attest. Over 20 per cent of Australians are obese. Moreover, the chunkiest of our citizens are rivalling their US competitors for girth.

Evidence extrapolated last week from the National Health Survey suggests that Australian males in particular are insensible to their breadth.

In the past, such ignorance of the fat, fat truth might not have been so surprising. "Your father thinks he’s 17," my mother would say as she buried the margarine from view.

But now, it seems quite odd. From haute couture to standard advertising, our visual culture is dominated by images of the tremendously young and compact. As our population ages and expands, its reflection does the opposite. This seems odd.

Let it be said, I have no argument with cantilever cheekbones, snake hips and youth. I am simply bemused by the disconnect.

One could go on re the INSANITY of using 14-YEAR-OLD MODELS etc, but I do not think I shall. I’d argue that couture (a) has a diminishing influence and (b) does not "sexualise" underage persons as is commonly supposed. Actually, I think the opposite is true. Thin, spectral models are drained of their sexuality. It would be silly to say that the youngsters who people couture’s culture are "healthy". I just think their air-wafer-eating influence is limited.

Of course, some testimony indicates these implausible images produce anorexia. But perhaps their real corollary is quite different. If, as is suggested by the National Health Survey, many Australians can’t quite tell you how big they are relative to a shopping cart, then these tadpole models are producing an entirely different sort of dysmorphic disorder. We continue to get fat. Not thin.

It’s not as though we’ve detached from an improbable culture that confers visual privilege to stick insects. it’s as if we’ve had an allergic reaction. As their BMIs dwindle, ours grow.

I can make no sort of sense of this at all. All I can suggest is expanding the Buffyverse to fashion. We’ll ask the Watcher to direct Fashion Week. I’m certain Glorificus would look fabulous in skinny jeans.

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.