Friday, December 4, 2009

Beth Ditto: Rock and Vogue Personified

In this post, I salute Beth Ditto, lead singer of the soulful punk trio The Gossip and the most unlikely rising star of the fashion industry. Beth is an overweight lesbian from Arkansas who doesn't shave her armpits or wear deodorant, who often strips down to her underwear onstage, is a fierce supporter of feminism and DIY and has intimidating vocal chops.

The Gossip, a favorite band of mine, has received little recognition in the US (they're more successful in the UK) until tabloids and gossip bloggers got a look at Ditto: her experimental appearance is both shocking and intriguing. Basically, she declares herself a lover of fashion, REAL fashion, and at the same time denies the "rules" of the game: she's not interested in losing weight, she wears tight clothes that show off her form and likes to clash rather than blend in.

This video from a profile elaborates upon Ditto's unique rise to fame in the fashion and music world.

The reasons I admire Ditto are pointed out in this video. She fully appreciates the power and beauty of dressing oneself for fashion, that fashion is art, that the industry may be stereotyped as "shallow" but that doesn't make a lover of fashion so. I love that she isn't shamed because she doesn't fit the size 2 sample but IN FACT was mentored by super skinny supermodel Kate Moss and allowed to design her very line of clothing for British plus size boutique Evans. The clothes are outrageous and fun and punk and flashy and sexy. But they truly stand out because there are few outlets that allow women of a larger size wear such things.

Now she has become the rock star of "plus-sized fashion" a term that practically didn't exist, until now. She poses for magazine covers, flaunts her naked body and is chummy with the epically famous Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld (left).

I truly admire Beth Ditto for her role in the fashion world because her genuine love of style and dressing for expression and fearlessness of fitting in has turned the industry's eyes on her; seemingly, body acceptance and a broader view of what can be in vogue and beautiful might be subject to change because of her.

When The Gossip was invited to play in Paris at Fashion Week for label Fendi, she was followed by another queer feminist, jouranlist Michelle Tea, who covered the experience for The Believer.
Tea writes:
"Even though I have been here all week, knowing that every moment was leading to this, watching Beth accosted by photographers and flattered by designers, I still cannot get over how this little band that I have known for so long, this indie queer feminist punk band, is the absolute star of the Fendi show. The reality is staggering. In many ways it shouldn't be a surprise — less-talented, less-interesting, less-charismatic artists get famous all the time. They just tend not to be so outspokenly queer, so flamboyantly fat, so poor in their roots, so disconnected from the music industry, with no secret dad producer or mom publicist. The Gossip got to this lit-up stage in Paris through the force of their own dogged dedication to their DIY garage-rock band. It makes my eyes fill with fucking tears."

I salute Beth Ditto and The Gossip -- true heros of fashion and rock music.

Beyond her role in fashion, Beth Ditto is just one cool bitch. She publicly bashed singer Katy Perry for her insanely popular song "I Kissed A Girl," which Ditto calls a "boner dyke anthem" for "straight girls who like to turn guys on by making out or like faking gay," among other valid disses.

And finally, but most importantly, The Gossip is a fuckin' rad band, in which Ditto sings with intense soul. The three-piece band is stripped down and garage-style, bassy, funky, danceable and lyrically divine.

I'm really happy for The Gossip and Beth Ditto. Enjoy the video for their song "Jealous Girls."

1 comment: