Fashion industry turns women into ‘girls’

There are apparently very few women in the fashion business, but a whole of “girls.”

Consider the celebrites who have their own fashion lines. Victoria Beckham has “Working Girl.” (Uh, Victoria? You do know that’s a euphemism for prostitutes, don’t you?) Meanwhile, Audrey Gelman has “The Girl Most Likely” and Maria Sharapova has “Golden Girl.”

By the way, case you’re interested in the ages of these “girls,” Victoria Beckham turned 40 this week. Sharapova and Gelman are both in their late 20s.

However, Vogue’s website reports that even women are forever children in the fashion business — often by their own choice.

Aliza Licht, the senior vice president of global communications at Donna Karan International and 37-year-old mother of two, calls herself “DKNY PR Girl” on Twitter,

Yes, it matters, Deborah Tannen, a professor of linguistics at Georgetown University and author of “You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation,” tells Vogue.

“Meaning always depends on context,” Tannen tells the magagine. “It’s a return to the pre-women’s movement when ‘woman’ was considered a dirty word and ‘girl’ was the standard way to refer to females.”

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston, the author of “Business Writing with Heart: How to Build Great Work Relationships One Message at a Time,” says the use of the word “girl” may not be a bad thing.

It depends, she tells Vogue.

“The implications can be positive if everybody speaks the same language — if that’s what the industry uses,” she tells the magazine. “In the decision-making room, it does have the potential of making a woman come off as less than. There’s going to be a degree of respect given to certain titles.”

However, Rachna Shah, an executive vice president at the fashion public relations firm KCD, tells Vogue that female fashion executives don’t talk like little girls their financial towers.

“Amongst colleagues, it doesn’t really matter that much to me if I am referred to as a woman or a girl, as long as it isn’t ma’am,” she says. “If there is an obvious intention to use “girl” in a derogatory way, then, of course, it would bother me.”

New York fashion designer Joseph Altuzarra tells Vogue he always calls women women.

“For us, it’s an important distinction to make, not necessarily only from an age point of view, but also when thinking about a woman’s attitude and sensibility,” he tells the magazine. “It is a state of mind and a certain confidence with her sexuality, her appearance, her body.”

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