Simon Doonan's Insights on Gay Men, Fashion, Fat & French Women

Fasten your seat belts. We might have an interesting digital, literary ride in the coming months. Barney’s Creative Director Simon Doonan has just sold a manuscript for a quick-to-market book that inspired by the very successful ‘French Women Don’t Get Fat’.

Doonan’s book is ‘Gay Men Don’t Get Fat’, and it’s not Doonan’s first book. He’s pictured here with ‘Eccentric Glamour: Creating an Insanely More Fabulous You’.

A blurb for the upcoming diet book says it will provide ‘a stylishly slimming discourse that proves gay men really ARE French women: prone to disdain, favoring cheeky underwear, convinced of their own artistic brilliance, and (of course) calorie-obsessed.’

So far, the gay community seems not so amused, but I can’t wait to read Doonan.

In bringing together my beloved French women — style chic icons of the world — and the gay community on the same continuum, Doonan may (un)intentionally give credence to my intellectual theories. Call the Barney’s whizmo a friend with benefits.

Homosexuals and Body Fascism

Gawker’s openly gay Brian Moylan picked up the story, Let me say that I like Mireille Guiliano’s ‘French Women Don’t Get Fat’, which — according to Moylan — ‘makes the argument that if you follow the culturally ingrained diet and lifestyle of a French woman, you too can be skinny, fabulous and look good in Chanel.’

Moylan slides over his own question about French women ‘Clever, but where does that obsession come from?’ After all, this is an American gay manifesto we’re reading and not the psyches of French women.

There is only one thing that keeps gay men in shape: fear. Yes, every gay—at least those of the stereotypical abdominal-obsessed physique that populates Fire Island and Palm Springs—is brought about because gay men are afraid that they will be alone for the rest of their lives. If a gay man is not “serving body” while competing to find a trick or boyfriend in one of the more muscle-bound climates of gay culture, he will be sorely shut out. That is why gay men don’t get fat, because if they don’t have pecs, guns, and glutes, they’re going home alone.

The same could be said for a model with breasts and a derriere; she, too, will be sorely shut out. Lara Stone, who becomes more beautiful — and yes, thinner — by the moment, is an exception. With Lara’s generous God-given bosom, there is no way she will be breastless, regardless of her BMI.

Moylan continues:

The funny thing about the gay competition is that, because men (especially of the gay variety) are so visually stimulated, the only piece on the chess board that matters is having that traditional lean body… . If a gay guy is a little short, his solution is to go to the gym. Got a shitty job? Go to the gym. Busted in the face? No biggie! Head to the gym and no one will look above your neck. Totally shy and doesn’t socialize well? Gym, baby, gym! A good body is the only currency in this game.

OMG! The rant gets better.

What also makes this unique for gay men is one of the other strange quirks of homosexuality. Gay men are attracted to, essentially, themselves. No straight man wants to look like a woman (and certainly not the reverse) but gay men find what they are physically attracted to and often remake their bodies in the image of their ideal mate.

Note that there are fallacies in the argument. Moylan gets the intellectual waters a bit murky by only focusing on gays with buff bodies and a nod to bear ones.

If body fascism is for real in gay culture, the idealized body image has an alternative to protein shakes and bicep curls. It’s not only the bear body Moylan writes about and also critiques for its obsessive focus on physicality.

Size 0 Ideal Beauty

Unlike Gawker’s Moylan, Simon Doonan will surely address the fashion-lite gay man, because it is his world. The last decade’s preference for Hedi Slimane slim is more direct comparison to ‘French Women Don’t Get Fat’ than South Beach’s bronzed, muscular bodies.

Karl Lagerfeld told the Telegraph UK — not an ounce of fat is desirable, sounding tougher than Mireille Guiliano who is charming, witty and persuasive, assuring us that life will still allow for sensory pleasure and not only in reading splendid old books.

To be fair to Lagerfeld, calorie-restricted mice may be in his corner when the topic is longevity and body far. As for smelling the food roses with a glass of champagne in your hand, fashion monasticism is a fierce and demanding muse.

I’ve often written that the downsizing of the Supermodels represents a psychological need to desexualize and disempower women from our physicality. In the last few weeks I’ve read intently about the rise of male control of women’s bodies, moving from a hunting and gathering society to an agrarian one.

This is not new to me at all, but I’m reading several analyses written by religous scholars and sociologists at religious universities — more often men — although female anthropologists are making some astounding discoveries about women’s real history.

Body and Mind Control

For me the control of women’s bodies is a fight to the finish, especially with religious scholars now agreeing that I’m not some crazy, feminist heretic.

Returning to the fashion industry and gay culture — which I understand only moderately well — even I would tread softly on the assertion that gay men often remake their bodies in the image of their ideal mate. Thinking … thinking … thinking.

Karl Lagerfeld | Pirelli Calendar 2011 | The Female Divinities & Muses Are Feminists

Actually, I don’t know that the Brian Moylan arguments are holding water in the fashion industry. It makes sense to me that a designer like Karl Lagerfeld makes Freja Beha Erichsen his muse. You might argue that Freja and Karl have an obviously similar body structure.

It’s interesting to note that the lovely Freja is 5’10” tall, and I have no sense of her stature. We must examine the angles from which she is photographed.

Freha Beha Erichsen isn’t Karl’s sensual muse. That award goes to Baptiste Giabiconi, who doesn’t look anything like him. So much for Moylan’s theory.

 “I think after the ugly skinny  boys of Hedi [Slimane’s] days…some ‘beauty’ was needed, but new beauty,” Lagerfeld said. (Karl is always so kind in his remarks.)

As for himself and his women, Karl toes the mark with Hedi’s ‘ugly skinny boys’ body fascism for himself and his idealized woman. Perhaps his appreciation of a bit of wanton, curvaceous sensuality erupts with Baptiste; I do not know, not being a psychoanalyst.

Karl Lagerfeld’s Preferred Vision | No Women Allowed

Bottom line, whoever said fashion is a game for simpletons doesn’t know the score. In an ideal world, we would all be our own persons, marching to our own beauty tune. At least in America, we prefer beauty pageants rather than quiet recitals with Bach here, Mozart there and Rachmaninoff flying in to end the evening.

My intuition tells me that Simon Doonan’s new book will be a ball to read and write about. Coming on the heels of France Sozzani’s Cury Girls promises for Italian Vogue, our digital body image rumble may get a new burst of steam. Anne

Note: I just discovered this most interesting interview with Karl Lagerfeld by the Independent UK, Jan 2007.