Elizabeth Taylor Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf
December 31, 2011 by staff
Elizabeth Taylor Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf, With her “apocalyptic” bosom (Richard Burton), micro waist and what are sometimes known as “child-bearing hips” (four spawn across two marriages) Elizabeth Taylor created a subversive archetype of 50s womanhood: attractive, sensual and fiercely independent with it. Taylor’s body had all the amorphous swelling of hips, breast and buttocks to more than fulfil the feminine ideal identified by anti-feminist, Camille Paglia. As a sexual icon, Taylor walked a fine line between a body gorged on strong features and the potential to easily become bloated by pregnancy or the slightest weight gain but it was this straddling of the divide that made her so unique and enduring a figure.
Alongside Marilyn Monroe, who shared many of the above features, Taylor’s body, circa 1956, has become one of the standard signifiers of female sexuality that persisted well into the end of the 20th century. Her iconic power has grown even further as a retrospective ideal against the proto-heroin chic that was emerging in the sixties through the sterile cheekbones and artful mascara of Twiggy, a style that has persisted into the modern Kate Moss equation where staying thin is equivalent to maintaining beauty and good youth.
In the massed geometry of Taylor’s stormcloud hair, violet eyes and fine lips that could easily flip to a feral snarl, J. G. Ballard identified his martyr to the decadence of beauty a trope which he helped to further into a neo-classical archetype of the perfect movie star. In much of his work in the 60s Ballard transposed this affected glamour onto other famous/notorious people, such as the widow-figure of Jackie O with her bug-eyed shades maintaining her distant reserve in the decades following JFK’s death. Even as a child star, Taylor already had a foothold in the lineage of Hollywood’s Golden Age through starring roles in National Velvet and Lassie; a cultural legacy equivalent to that of the Ancient Greeks in the incestuous and self-congratulatory world of Hollywood.
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