Thursday, January 31, 2008

What's in the borscht?

I'm in full agreement with Matthew Yglesias that Communism did not eliminate demand for attractive women, and that Anne Appelbaum's hypothesis makes not so much sense.

I'd imagine we now think of Russian women as beautiful because there are so many Russian (and Estonian, Latvian, Ukrainian) models. The most likely reason for this trend is that the former USSR is the best place to find women who fit the ethnic ideal of the West if not most of the world, i.e. are some degree of blond, but lack the non-modeling opportunities of women in Germany, Denmark, or the Netherlands. It's easier and costs less to convince a modelesque junior high school student to drop everything and head to Milan if her alternatives are bleak. So while tall, blond women abound in Northern and Western Europe, the 'Dutch woman' does not evoke high fashion, whereas the Russian woman (or, more accurately, Russian 15-year-old girl) does. The fall of Communism makes it easier for modeling agencies to reach this resource, but the girls/women in question are desirable precisely because capitalism hasn't yet worked for all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Applebaum probably never saw Playboy magazine thru the 60s and 70s - Loaded with annual "Iron Curtain" women issues. Ian Fleming and all the others fetishised the hot sexy communists woman spies.

As is the case with much of Slate - it's all about the writer's own neurotic view.

Her article was like something Chris Matthews would discuss/