The Posh perspective
EVEN BY Victoria Beckham's standards, it was quite an entrance. Wearing five-inch killer heels and fingerless gloves, her tiny frame encased in a corset so tight one of its bones snapped as she climbed out of the car, the former Spice Girl arrived at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards on Tuesday night in a pair of daring lace knickers to pout for the paparazzi and pick up the evening's top gong.
Yes: Victoria Beckham, Posh Spice, Queen of the WAGs, is Woman of the Year. According to the readers of Glamour magazine, at least. And, despite being more renowned for the clothes she wears than those she sells, she was also named Entrepreneur of the Year.
Clearly for a significant proportion of the female population, Mrs Beckham is something to aspire to.
So what is it about this rail thin, eternally pouting, 33-year-old mother of three that makes her such a role model for young women?
She stands accused of being a major culprit in the size zero storm, and has a reputation for being surly with the press. Her solo music career has been a flop and she has been widely criticised for embodying the sort of have-it-all consumerism that has seen millions of us spiral into ever deeper debt. Yet she has only to place a Gucci-clad toe on a pavement for the public to fall at her feet.
Part of Beckham's appeal appears to lie in her duality. Posh Spice, the persona she adopted back in 1996 when the Spice Girls were first launched upon an unsuspecting world, is the fashion maven, eternally trundling out new styles, working outfits and launching trends. Victoria Beckham, on the other hand, is the working mother of three who's just like you and me - honest.
"I don't have a nanny or a housekeeper, and I only have a cleaner for one hour each week," she said recently. "I finish work and go home. I cook the dinner. I run into Tesco and do the housework in the evening."
Indeed, it is this assertion that she was simply a working family woman like the rest of us (albeit one with houses all over the world, a private jet at her disposal and a husband earning more than 100,000 a week) that led to a feeling of female solidarity when, in 2004, it was alleged in exhaustive and tawdry detail that her husband David had been having a four-month affair with his personal assistant, Rebecca Loos.
While she was initially criticised for staying silent on the matter, acting possessive with David in public and refusing to say anything to anyone about his rumoured infidelities, Victoria won people round with her quiet dignity. She might have been wearing a rictus grin the entire time, but she certainly wasn't going to break down in public, or let a silly thing like infidelity ruin her marriage. Many women respected her for it.
Some fans also seem able to relate to Beckham's girliness, and the fact that she seems like she'd probably be quite a good laugh.
For all her pouting and preening, women get the feeling that if you went on a girly night out with her she'd order in the Bacardi Breezers, be first on the dance floor, and compliment everyone on their outfits.
Whether true or not, women feel she's their friend. Last year she told a newspaper: "I'm never going to sing again, unless it was a chance to do something with the Spice Girls. I don't really miss the shows we did together. I miss the girls more... I love them and miss them."
Indeed, while the press occasionally still wonders about her musical career, she hasn't released a single since December 2003, and aspirations of a musical future have clearly been abandoned. Instead she has devoted herself to being a mother, earning plaudits for refusing to employ nannies and - again, something else many women will relate to - making it clear that, although she adores her three boys, she is desperate for a baby girl. While of a similar age to Kate Moss, her motherhood skills - she is often pictured with her children and takes them everywhere with her - are, at least in the eyes of the press, in sharp contrast.
Interestingly, her looks and mannerisms have remained iconic for women who were just young girls when the Spice Girls first burst on to the British music scene. Over in this year's Big Brother house, 19-year-old housemate Chanelle Hayes has modelled herself on the former singer, copying her hair, makeup and clothes and making no secret of the fact that she is desperate to be a WAG, just like Victoria. On her MySpace page she says Posh Spice is her idol, writing "when she's your hero, you don't need any others!"
And while you may giggle at the Entrepreneur of the Year label, what it really marks is Victoria's skilful construction of the Beckham empire. From matching his-and-hers perfumes to the endless magazine covers, and a recent deal with NBC to make a documentary about the family's much-hyped move to America, where David will next month start a five-year contract with football team Los Angeles Galaxy, Victoria has made herself the highly successful chief executive of one of the most recognised brand names on the planet.
She has other, smaller business projects on the go as well. She has long been interested in fashion, and worked with Rock & Republic for several years before launching her own range of jeans in 2006. There's also a range of Victoria Beckham sunglasses, which she promotes by wearing them constantly.
She has never made any secret of her ambition, and for that she is perhaps at her most inspiring. "If I set my mind to something I do it," she said recently. "My biggest wish for all of us is that we are happy, successful, and that we stay true to ourselves." Clearly, Victoria Beckham is far from making an exit any time soon.
• NOVELIST: "That's interesting [that she's won], given she has no job, no obvious charities and no obvious point in life. "But she is very, very, VERY thin. I'm so glad the women's mags are keeping by their solemn protestations that they would never glamorise size zero. "And, of course, her mothering skills - that is, forcing her children to have weird lives and heavy security at all times by trying to publicly conquer the only country on earth they could actually have had a chance at a normal life in. Bravo!"
ELAINE C SMITH
• COMEDIAN: "Give me a break, please! We've got female scientists, doctors and other fantastic women doing amazing things for humanity. All the lawyers, aid workers, nurses, mothers, teachers, businesswomen and carers doing wonderful work, and this award goes to a wealthy, publicity-addicted clothes horse who in my opinion is one of the worst role models for our young women to follow. This is not a personal attack. I don't know Victoria and wish her no harm and I do not like attacking other women who have enough to deal with. The people who should be attacked are the people who gave her the award in the first place. It is they who, on our behalf, insult women throughout the world who are doing some amazing work."
• GROOMING AND ETIQUETTE EXPERT, AND HEADTEACHER IN THE ITV1 SERIES LADETTE TO LADY: "What Victoria Beckham wore to the Glamour awards was completely inappropriate and very tarty. I thought she looked completely ghastly. I teach style and etiquette to young women and I think that Victoria Beckham would be a terrible role model for them. This was a very formal event and she was essentially wearing a pair of knickers, horrendous. She should have been wearing something elegant and appropriate, particularly as she was picking up an award and would be the centre of attention. If rumours are to be believed and her husband is to be knighted, making her a Lady, she will need to get her act together."
DR LINDA PAPADOPOULOS
A LECTURER IN PSYCHOLOGY AT LONDON METROPOLITAN UNIVERSITY AND A COLUMNIST FOR COSMOPOLITAN MAGAZINE:
"I think it's worrying that Victoria Beckham has been given this award over scientists, artists, writers and other very talented women. She has been awarded for being beautiful and dressing well, and distilling women down to something so superficial is very worrying. It's essentially rewarding someone for good fortune, whether genetic or social, rather than hard work or talent. It's not that Victoria Beckham is a bad person, but that if women look up to her as a role model, we're really placing too much importance on superficial qualities."
HEAD OF FINANCIAL PLANNING AT FINANCIAL DIRECTION FOR WOMEN IN EDINBURGH: "There are two sides to her, the Posh Spice side and the Victoria Beckham side. If we separate her from her husband for a moment, we see that she's not actually your typical WAG, despite being seen as the ultimate one. She is focused and driven and has worked very hard for her own money. She doesn't rely on her husband, but has her own business ventures and contributes to her family's income. In that respect I do believe we should look up to her."
EDITOR OF PRIMA BABY MAGAZINE: "I think that Victoria Beckham is a pretty good role model for mums, and I think that a lot of mums really admire her, even if they won't always admit it! She comes across as a very hands-on mum. She's done a lot of work looking at schools for the children in LA and I've heard that she doesn't employ a nanny. I think that women admire that she manages to remain groomed while raising three kids, and she is proof that you don't have to compromise between spending time with your children and looking glamorous."
DR LINDA DRYDEN
READER IN LITERATURE AND CULTURE AT NAPIER UNIVERSITY: "As someone who came from nothing and achieved a lot of fame, success and wealth through her time with The Spice Girls, Victoria Beckham is someone who women can look up to. But, to look at her as a whole as a role model, incorporating her body image and her extravagant lifestyle, I'm not so sure. There are a lot of other women that I think we should look up to before Victoria Beckham, but that's not to say that there aren't elements of her lifestyle and achievements that are admirable."
NOVELIST: "I think there's a place for the Victoria Beckhams of this world - frothy, fun, they make our lives more interesting. But Victoria is painfully thin and a professional celebrity. I think we can do better. Young women see these celebs all the time. For me, Woman of the Year would be somebody like J K Rowling - who brought an entire generation back to reading and then involved herself in charity - Helen Mirren, a superstar actress who proves life doesn't stop with your first wrinkle, or Shami Chakrabarti - a tireless defender of our civil liberties."
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 21 C
Wind Speed: 9 mph
Wind direction: South
Temperature: 6 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: North west