I’m pretty sure that I’ve addressed GoFugYourself.com, and the myriad issues surrounding it, at this blog and/or column before, but I found myself, today, wanting to say something further about the site, which "fugs"–i.e. rags on–celebrities for dressing badly.
Simple idea, of course — People Magazine and its imitators have been doing "worst dressed" lists for eons — but the two writers at GFY have taken it to new levels of excellence. They seem to know fashion well, for one, and they’re good writers, for two. So it’s a hootenanny to read, and it’s sophisticated enough that you don’t, as a reader, feel too guilty for engaging in what sometimes seems to be an un-feminist kind of activity (a notion which reminds me of an unfinished theorem of mine having to do with the ways that rhetorical style can confound political judgement, but that’s a theorem for another day).
Here’s my slight beef, though. It’s provoked by today’s celebration of the style of Kate Winslet, one of the occasional tally-ho’s the GFY women hand out to demonstrate that they’re not pure haters. They write:
Here at GFY, we are often asked, "Don’t you girls like ANYTHING?" The answer, of course, is no. We hate kittens and babies and Christmas. We hate presents and kissing and ice cream. We hate lip gloss and Luke Perry and football.
Listen, of course we like things. We like lots of things. I like all those things I just mentioned, especially the ice cream. But the website is not called Hey, I Love Your Outfit.com. That being said, sometimes we like to feature people wearing things we love (especially if they often wear things we don’t), and sometimes we like to give a shout out to people who almost always look good. (I believe the kids used to call this "giving props.") Today, it’s the latter. Witness Kate Winslet at last night’s Little Children premiere:
…How much do we love Kate Winslet? A lot. She never shows up with her boob hanging out, or wearing formal shorts, or sheer culottes, or leggings. She doesn’t go to Hyde and start yelling about the characteristics of people’s ladyparts, or give interviews where she sniffs that she can’t believe people aren’t feeding their babies organic peas grown on their own acreage. She has not hired Rachel Zoe and wasted away down to a child’s size pants. (In fact, in this week’s EW, she says that Emma Thompson once told her that if she [Kate] lost weight, Emma would "never fucking speak to [her] again," and that is one of the reasons we love Emma Thompson, even if she sometimes shows up places in unflattering bodices.)
And she looks as gorgeous here as ever: lovely dress; amazing skin; good hair; subtle, classy accessories; fantastic manicure. The thing about her, of course, is that she almost always looks amazing:
If you click through their brief picture tour of Winslet’s greatest hits, what becomes apparent is that they like Winslet because she always looks impeccable, classical, elegant, tasteful, etc. — which is legitimate praise to give to Winslet, but not so great a praise-choice for a blog that’s supposed to be about fashion.
Fashion isn’t just supposed to be about good taste. Fashion, at its best, is also about discovering new and creative ways to look good. Good taste isn’t its enemy, at all, but it is its orthodoxy.
It seems to me, then, that Team GFY, if it wants to be a meaningful part of the fashion discourse rather than just its resident scolds — its sharp-tongued enforcers of orthodoxy –needs to discover and highlight some people who are finding news and interesting ways to be beautiful rather than just the people, like Winslet, who are good at looking beautiful in the conventional ways.
Consider that a challenge to GFY, if you will. They do what they do wonderfully, but what they do, it seems to me, is in danger of settling into something less than what it could be. The great critics don’t just take risks in their criticism, they take risks in their praise, and I haven’t seen that yet from GFY.