They are burning flowers in Russia. In what is suspected as a retaliatory act against the Dutch for their investigation into the downing of a Malaysian airliner over rebel-held east Ukraine in July last year, Russia has ordered all flowers shipped from the Netherlands to be burned. Television cameras captured workers burning boxes and boxes of freshly cut roses. To me, this seems all too appropriate a metaphor for the world today. Of course I always tend to veer into melancholy during an election season, something that seems a greater problem these days when election season lasts much longer than a mere season, stretching now from spring into winter, winter to fall.
Here in the states at present, politics has become comedy led by a megalomaniacal buffoon who draws the sort of television ratings comedians can only dream of achieving in a lifetime. It is embarrassing in the extreme. He is unencumbered by reality, a fact his emphatically stated opinions nakedly reveal, and qualities such as empathy and compassion are merely euphemisms for losers within his gilded world. Such a blowhard is best ignored, just as our mothers instructed us to do with any schoolyard bully, but when he leads in the republican polls, as he sadly does at present, it is difficult to look away. As I said, it’s embarrassing.
You can easily look up his pronouncements for yourself, but I’m taking issue with one in particular because it’s bothered me on many levels beyond it’s obvious stupidity. This past weekend while, inexplicably, commenting on the former model, Heidi Klum, this “candidate” declared her to be, “Sadly, no longer a 10.”. Now, let us leave aside the vacant validity of this declaration - Ms. Klum is a gorgeous human being, as anyone can easily see. And I suppose for a man whose sideline is the ludicrous Miss Universe pageant, one should not expect a higher level of discourse. But when, oh when, will we manage to stop allowing women - fascinating, intelligent women - to be evaluated by their appearance alone? Will it ever stop? And if you think this weekend’s comments were an anomaly, think for a moment on how much we’ve already heard regarding Hillary Clinton’s hairstyles and pantsuits.
If this were just one comment from one knuckle-dragging glacier dweller, then fine. But it isn’t. Face it, this attitude has managed to weave an insidious thread throughout our culture so expertly that we women are often guilty of the sins of comparison and judgment ourselves. Is there one of us who hasn’t felt just a wee bit “less than” when flipping through the pages of Vogue? Or been tickled by the tentacles of schadenfreude when a famous beauty puts on a few pounds? Rather like burning roses, I think.
Just yesterday, I came across a new project by photographer Peter Freed. Entitled, Prime, it is a book of essays and portraits of women. A bouquet of glorious women, from ages 35 to 104. Completely funded through a successful Kickstarter campaign, the book is now being printed and should be out soon. Will it change society? Probably not. But it’s a start. And I would send a copy to the aforementioned “candidate” if I only thought he could read.