Friday, September 12, 2014

Some Things on my Mind Lately


 A hot topic nowadays (well, actually, it has been for many years), is the way Hollywood presents unattainable ideals to girls and women.  I have decided to put in my bit,as it is a very important subject, because of the despair that girls will fall into when they realize that they can never measure up to the standards set before them in movies.  I am referring most specifically to animated films (princess movies are probably the most at fault in their idealized portrayals), because in live action films, everything comes from at least a semblance of reality, and there will be plenty of flaws that cannot be hidden or fixed.
     Oh, did you think I was talking about people this whole time?  That's ridiculous, everyone knows they're unrealistic, and little girls figure out pretty quickly that they will never be Disney princesses, but it's still fun to pretend!  No, I am referring to a far more grievous departure from reality: skirts.  To demonstrate what I mean by this, I'd like to use an example from a movie I am sure many of you are familiar with (it was kind of a big deal early in the year).  How many of you have seen Frozen?  There's no need for a show of hands, since I can't see it through the internet anyway, but probably the vast majority of you have.  Many of you girls, I am certain, particularly seamstresses, remember Anna's coronation dress, pictured above.  Those pleats, that swishiness, the way it looked while twirling, how could you not fall in love at first sight?  I, for one, saw it, thought of hardly anything else for the rest of the movie, spent the next few weeks watching the parts with "For the First Time in Forever" and "Love is an Open Door" over and over again just so that I could see that skirt in action (the silhouette of it twirling behind the sail?  Oh, it makes my heart go pitter-pat as even Captain America can't.), and the next few months devising formulas, and thinking of the best way to replicate the skirt.
     But alas, soon came the day when I realized that I was in love with something that didn't exist; that couldn't exist.  You know the part in which she trips into the boat, and as she falls backward, you can see that she doesn't have a petticoat or slip or any kind of underskirt under her skirt? Oh, how I wish that were possible.  Someone once described '50s dresses without crinolines as "sad," and it's true!  The skirts just hang limp, depressing and forlorn!  Obviously, the dress which we are discussing is not from the '50s, but the same principle applies.  No under-structure=no happiness, or joy, or peace on earth.
     No, you're probably thinking "okay, this sounds like an easy enough problem to get around.  So animators pretend that support isn't necessary, but that doesn't mean you can't add any when you copy it."  You have a point.  Let's see how the results of that would play out.  There are two basic ways in which skirts can be poofed out: hoop-skirts, and crinoline petticoats.  A hoop-skirt would probably be more accurate for the time period, the event, and that length of skirt, so we'll discuss that possibility first  There are advantages to hoops, admittedly.  They will give the skirt a nice smooth shape when standing still, move nicely while walking, and never get all uncomfortably bunched up between your legs, however, hopefully, anyone wearing the skirt would not just be walking or standing still!  One of the main reasons we love the skirt is for its twirling ability!  Do you see where I'm going with this?  Well, picture it this way.  When you start twirling, and the pleats do their thing, the circumference at the bottom is three times what it is when everything is smoothly in place.  That's a pretty dang full skirt.  Well over the volume of a circle skirt, it may possibly even have as much volume as a double circle skirt.  What this means is that, unlike a normal gathered skirt, when you start spinning, you won't get a bell shaped effect, the skirt will flare straight out.  Because of the length, and therefore weight, of the fabric, it shouldn't go up indecently high, probably not past your knees, but that's not the point.  Remember that hoop-skirt you're wearing?  Well, it isn't made the same way as your skirt!  It has one shape, which will not really change with your movements, which means that as your skirt flares up, and your hoop-skirt stays down, you basically flash your undergarments to the whole world, which is about one of the most mortifying things anyone can do.
     So hoop-skirts are a no go.  well, what about a crinoline?  This is actually a pretty feasible solution, and when I make my (probably shorter, without all the patterns, and possibly in different colors; the pleats are the main attraction) version of the skirt, I will most likely wear it with a crinoline.  You can sit down in it, without all the bother of a hoop-skirt, it moves pretty nicely when you walk, and, most importantly, because of all the gathering, it will flare out with the skirt, and it's also not a big deal if a little bit of petticoat shows.  But there are still some minor inconveniences.  They don't really make crinolines that long, and of course you could always make one, but it's difficult, what with all that fabric to gather, trying to keep parts from interfering with each other and getting in the way.  The problem most relating to our subject, though, is comfort, because why else bother caring that animated skirts don't seem to need support?  Crinolines do tend to get bunched up between your legs, or bunch up all weird in certain sections, making the skirt look fuller in some parts than others, and besides, you just don't get the nice swishy feeling you have when there's nothing between you and the skirt.
     As I said before, a crinoline is a pretty good solution to the problem, but wouldn't it be so nice if we could have that beautiful shape without any need for it?  Anna's skirt is only one demonstration of Disney lying to us in this way.  I can think of so many more examples - well, no, actually, I can only think of that one, but I know there are a lot more examples of animated skirts that had beautiful shapes on the outside, but when they moved, you could tell that there was nothing to support that shape.  Disney is deceiving our girls, telling them to believe in impossible dreams, and trying to ruin their lives.  Help me to fight against this madness!

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