Barbara Bourland: I’ll Eat When I’m Dead


With a title poached from Daphne Guinness (unacknowledged) and a blurb touting it to be a sizzling subversive romp through the world of fashion, or fierce, funny, feminist, I found this book to be a major disappointment.

The story begins with the death of Hillary Whitney, supposedly from anorexia (actually I think it really was from anorexia with a few drugs thrown in). It is set in the super-cool offices of RAGE Fashion Book. This, essentially a fashion mag, has great aims, hence the pretentious name. They purport to be feminist, although like most women’s mags they are about clothes and make-up. They delude themselves they are politically correct by refusing to give coverage to producers who don’t pay their staff properly or make them work in harsh conditions. But they are still promoting brands and products that limit women.

There is a great deal of doublethink going on here. From this

They both changed into comfortable clothing: plain black jeans and ivory jacquard-knit top structured with a lace effect from Alexander McQueen for Bess; and leather leggings, a black crocheted zip-up hoodie from Adidas, and a pair of rattlesnake sneakers from Jimmy Choo for Cat

to this

…as she walked toward her office through the maze of RAGE’s black cubicles all she could remember of her dream’s plot was an impression he’d tied her up against a wall, somehow immobilizing both her ankles and wrists. She had fleeting memories of a man’s leather belt tightening round her arms; of Hutton’s face floating above her…

to this

She remembered changing at her gym in Chicago and watching a passel of teenage girls measure the circumference of each other’s thighs with the spans of their fingers as they stood in front of the mirror – ‘yours are the smallest’, they’d declared to their leader’ who smiled in satisfaction. … She’d wanted to slap the girls, to scream: ‘You are prisoners in a jail you’re too young to see. The images you see are everywhere of tiny thighs are a lie. You are more than your bodies’.

A very confused mix of brand-names, Mills and Boon, Shades of Grey and an obscure crime story. The odd bit of pseudo-feminist preaching is not at all convincing.

The idea for this book is intriguing, but the author never has the guts to do a real take down on the fashion scene.

Barbara Bourland  has another book coming out later this year. Fake Like Me is said to be a critical look at the huge amounts of money made from the sales of art. Having just seen The Price of Everything, a documentary on that theme, and seeing the millions of dollars people like Jeff Koons make from their so-called art, this is an excellent idea and could be a great read. But I’m not hopeful.

16 thoughts on “Barbara Bourland: I’ll Eat When I’m Dead

  1. It all sounds so frivolous after reading Dreamland by Sam Quinones, Bloomsbury Press. Dear me, people are burying their children because of this drug epidemic.
    I’ll have to tap into Jeff Koons on how to make millions of dollars for their art.

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