Wholesome image not sexy enough for sales

November 20, 2008

Hayley Westenra  gets a round of applause from me for resisting demands to present a sexier image to boost sales of her recordings.

Kiwi soprano Hayley Westenra has taken a stand against the music industry, saying she ‘refuses to dress like a tart’ to sell records.

The 21-year-old singer claims she has been in a battle with her record company over her wholesome image.

“Oh there’s definitely the pressure,” says Hayley’s mother Jill. “You’ve only just got to see the artists that are in the media all the time and why they’re in the media and you can see it works.”

Unlike other young performers who have happily morphed from starlet to sexpot, Westenra has staunchly refused.

“Occasionally, I have had to stand my ground on image issues,” she says. “I am not a tarty person and I don’t wear those clothes when I am out, so I don’t wear them to perform or for interviews either.”

Hayley’s not the only star to take a stand against unreasonable demands to conform to an image. Deborah at In A Strange Land found this story on actress Emma Thompson who threatened to quit her role in a movie when she heard co-star Haley Attwell had been told to lose weight for her role. 

In contrast to mainstream cinema’s rollcall of skinny leading ladies with washboard chests, Atwell looks sensual, womanly and normal as a result. “This is where I get a bit fundamentalist, I’m afraid,” says Thompson, a long-time feminist and activist.

“It’s no joke: I would have made a big fat fuss and walked off.” She laments the body fascism of the film industry and, indeed, of society in general. So what can be done?

“Put on weight and say, ‘F..k off!”‘

Her eyes flash. “March into a store that doesn’t stock 38D bras and say, ‘I want a 38D bra or I’m never coming here again!’ If anyone larger than a size eight appears in a film, go and see it. Which is all my films, by the way,” she says with a smile.

“But the fact that Hayley listened to me was the real revolution here. She could have lost confidence and said, ‘I’d better lose a stone’, but she didn’t.”

 

The stands taken by these women are small steps on the long road to the respect for personal modesty and acceptance of healthy body shapes as normal.


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