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Monday, December 13, 2010

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In Praise of the Title Nine Catalog Models

Starting with its very name, Title Nine is clearly shooting for some kind of women's advocacy position. The clothier's catalog and website are full of tangents on fitness and personal stories and recipes and feelings. Do I care about any of that? I do not.

Are Title Nine's clothes cute? I have no idea. They look comfortable. Are they too expensive? Do they carry petite sizes? Plus sizes? Don't know. Don't care. Such are not the concerns of a straight man who finds himself paging through a women's clothing catalog. My interest in women's clothing begins and ends with the models in each brand's respective catalog. So why the hell don't Title Nine's get more attention?

Title Nine says its models "are ordinary women capable of extraordinary things." Maybe. For sure one of the extraordinary things they are capable of is being hot. Hot like no other catalog models are hot. Hot because they look fun, something no other models ever seem to be having.

Take this one Title Nine model for instance: Caitlin "grew up on a commune and has 11 siblings." Eleven siblings? A commune? Do you know what Gisele probably talks about when she's not at work? I don't know either, but I promise it's less interesting than childhood commune anecdotes. Plus, pigtails and a chainsaw?

Sure, Title Nine models may not boast the measurements of other catalog beauties; but what are guys lusting after anyway, math?

For example, a Title Nine-Victoria's Secret comparison:

Christ lady, why so serious? You're at the goddamn beach. Look over to your right. That's what fun at the beach looks like. For god's sake, you're not even wet.

It says more about those who would take a Victoria's Secret model over one of the Title Nine gals than it does about the models themselves. Specifically, such a choice says "I just like to look." Those are the same guys whose original Star Wars figures are still in the box, accumulating value.

For those of us living in the colder environs, the Title Nine gals are made even more attractive by not just regularly appearing in some cold weather gear, but by sexing it up with fun… in the snow. What good is some Brazilian thoroughbred who's just going to sit inside and whine about how the Alberta Clipper stings her face?

Of course, a particular appreciation for the Title Nine catalog has as much to do with the gams as the games. To look at a Victoria's Secret or J. Crew model is to ask, "How do their legs not break?" (As a matter of fact, her thighs are what consistently make Angelina Jolie unbelievable in any action film.) Indeed, thighs don't lie. A Title Nine model has legs a man can ogle without fear of causing damage. For example, here's a model from the latest J-Crew catalog with a hockey stick.

I can only assume she's leaning on the stick due to early onset osteoporosis.

I don't know much about Title Nine. The Title Nine mission statement is the quirky kind of thing one would expect. It's charming, but often in a calculated on-brand kind of way. "We're quirky!" "We like dessert." What I do know is that it's run by founder Missy Park, who, beside looking kind of like a former Title Nine model herself, actually shows up in the comments on blogs to respond to customer complaints. That's hot.

I understand that Gap Inc.-owned Athleta is similar to Title Nine. Well, for starters, none of those catalogs come to my house. Would the fact that Athelta is owned by some conglomerate run mostly by men matter to me? Probably not.

Despite the brand's "real women" models claim, some real women harbor ill feelings toward Title Nine. In fact, Title Nine's "real women" claim may make catalog model body issues frustration even worse (as evidenced by this full thread from a few years ago).

But what do I care about that? Mine is simply the conventional male catalog-model-ogling. It's about time it's admitted that just because you pose a model being adventurous or active or fun doesn't mean she looks adventurous or active or fun. And a man looking for an 82-second fantasy doesn't have time to imagine "fun" as well.

Abe Sauer writes for a number of publications. He is writing a book of North Dakotan humor. It is doomed.



43 Comments / Post A Comment

PBandJ

Hooray, Abe! Was just at BrandChannel, too. Maybe I should do some work...

wb
wb

Girls with too-skinny legs (and especially ankles!) make me nervous. I'm always waiting for the stress fractures to turn into full on breaks, making them fall over like Natalie Portman in Black Swan.

Kevin Knox

I'm generally not too precious about spoiler alerts, but when the film's only been out for a week or so...

wb
wb

It's a film about ballet; she falls over. Not all that much of a spoiler, really.

Kevin Knox

Ah, I just assumed you were referring to actual fractures (in the film). My mistake.

Hero of the Beach

Spoiler: Tonya Harding did it.

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

Abe, you read TE? I swan...

Obligatory humourless feminist bitch comment: I admire Title Nine's effort, but I don't want it to stop there. It's only half measures. (Sort of like fashion houses using size 6 models as 'plus-size'.) This is a thorny issue that I'm sure Sady or other prominent feminist ladywriters can articulate better than I can. It's like, "Great, you're using ladies with actual muscles and jobs and what-have-you, but they're still tall, lithe, white and able-bodied."

Edith Zimmerman

That girl with the hockey stick also needs to PULL up her PANTS!

sorry your heinous

Is that what a "tee" is now? I thought a tee had short-sleeves. (The Hairpin allows me to look slightly less idiotic when I talk to women in person! -- SYH)

Edith Zimmerman

I think tees these days can have either short or long sleeves, although If you said "t-shirt" I'd envision something with short sleeves. But I think technically they're long-sleeved, too. Shirts that make a T when you lie them on the floor, I think.

Kneetoe

@ez: But don't all shirts with any kind of sleeves make a "t" when you lie them down? I'm thinking, for example, of a button down.

@MoonBat: I, too, thought of rickets.

MoonBat

She can't, Edith. Can you not see that the poor girl clearly has rickets?

sorry your heinous

Ah, of course, tee vs. t-shirt. That makes sense. And, now that I think about it, I have seen "long-sleeved t-shirts"

antarcticastartshere

"Grew up on a commune and has 11 siblings."

My money is on Waco.

Bittersweet

Awesome, Abe. Not to get all extra-earnest and sincere here, but I love the Title Nine and Athleta ladies because, loving food but also exercise, I have a shot at looking something like them. The only way I could look like the J.Crew lady is to stop loving food (or acquire a tapeworm).

cherrispryte

This was the best "after the jump" surprise awesomeness ever. Totally unexpectedly great!

sox
sox

But what no one else has addressed here, is that to answer Abe's question - that he didn't really ask - NO, the clothes are not cute. There's a Title 9 in my town and the clothes are boxy and unflattering and mostly hideous (could it just be the demographic of where I live?). Yick.

A.R. Chrisman

I can't figure out if this is satire or not... Which is how I feel about most of Abe's stuff.

If not satire: White, straight male weighs in on women in REAL AMERICA. How women should be portrayed in clothing catalogs according to a male perusing for some quality j/o material: the Abe Sauer Definitive.

If so: well done? You confuse me? I came away hyper-aware of what the fuck I don't want to do when I, somehow, end up with a women's clothing catalog in my hands? I am stripped bare? Puns intended?

lbf
lbf

I dislike opinions! Should I read the internet Y/N

A.R. Chrisman

Starting with its very name, "In Praise of the Title Nine Catalog" is clearly shooting for some kind of women's advocacy position. The article and website it's housed on are full of tangents on fitness and personal stories and recipes and feelings. Do I care about any of that? I do not.

Are the attempts at humor cute? I have no idea. They look comfortable. Are they sincere attempts? Is this a serious article? Plus humor? Don't know. Don't care. Such are not the concerns of a straight man who finds himself paging through a women's website. My interest in women's blogging begins and ends with the writers in each site's respective catalog. So why the hell don't serious male attempts at understanding the objectification of women in the media get more attention?

The website says its "a low-key cocktail party among select female friends." Maybe. For sure one of the extraordinary things they are capable of is being funny about issues. Funny like no other female bloggers are funny. Funny because they look less intense or less personally invested in grinding some painful axe on the politics of a situation, something no other lady websites ever seem to be doing.

Take this "In Praise of the Title Nine Catalog Models" sentence for instance: "But what do I care about that? Mine is simply the conventional male catalog-model-ogling. It's about time it's admitted that just because you pose a model being adventurous or active or fun doesn't mean she looks adventurous or active or fun. And a man looking for an 82-second fantasy doesn't have time to imagine 'fun' as well." Male catalog-model-ogling? An 82-second fantasy? Do you know what Abe probably talks about when he's not writing? I don't know either, but I promise it's somehow just as interesting as finding the humor or point in this piece. Plus, a frozen beard and a chainsaw?

Sure, "In Praise of the Title Nine Catalog Models" may not boast the coherent and well-reasoned arguments of other Hairpin beauties; but what are writers lusting after anyway, math?
For example, an "In Praise of Title Nine Catalog Models" sentence comparison:

"Christ lady, why so serious? You're at the goddamn beach. Look over to your right. That's what fun at the beach looks like. For god's sake, you're not even wet."

"That's hot."

Christ Abe, why so man-centric? You're at the goddamn lady website of them awl. Look over to your right. That's what pasta carbonara looks like. For god's sake, you're not even a registered commenter at Tiger Beatdown.

It says more about those who would take offense at such an article than it does about the authors or website itself. Specifically, such a choice says "I just like to read good things that have clear points." Those are the same people whose original Steve Albini records are still in the shrink wrap, accumulating value.

For those of us living in the colder environs, the "In Praise of Title Nine Catalog Models" points are made even more confusing by not just regularly appearing to be on the verge of self-mockery, but by reversing back to this strange, misogynistic, "I, a man, have given Title Nine models the greenlight, regardless of whatever the utilitarian purposes of the publications are"… in the snow. What good is some dude writing a borderline satire on male perspective of women's clothing catalogs if he can't honestly nail down the satire, or, if it isn't a satire, then he can't address the problem of the objectification of women in clothing catalogs without coming at it from a male perspective that, similarly objectifies women?

Of course, a particular appreciation for the "In Praise of the Title Nine Catalog Models" has as much to do with the gams as the games. I don't know what that last sentence meant at all.

I don't know much about "In Praise of the Title Nine Catalog Models", even though I read it three times. The thesis is the reprehensible, diffuse kind of thing one would expect from Abe. It's charming, but often in a calculated on-brand kind of way. "I'm a man who loves to ogle women, therefore I love them!" "Real America!" What I do know is that it's written by a dude, who, beside looking kind of like every other dude I knew back in the Midwest, actually shows up in the comments on blogs to respond to reader complaints. That's servicey, and I hope he comes to the cheese-laden rescue on this one.

Despite the brand's "Real America" feminist male claim, some men with real opinions and feelings about feminism harbor ill feelings toward "In Praise of the Title Nine Catalog Models". In fact, "In Praise of the Title Nine Catalog Models"'s "real America" feminist male claim may make female body issues frustration even worse.

But what do I care about that? Mine is simply the conventional male women's website-article-ogling. It's about time it's admitted that just because you praise women for their beauty and "naturalness" it doesn't mean that you are somehow circumventing the objectification of women that these clothing catalogs establish and encourage. And a man looking for an 82-word, well-reasoned and enlightening male perspective in favor of allowing women to be women and not whatever men feel they should or shouldn't be (because, Abe, this article is about you telling women they should be Title Nine models and not Victoria Secret models, it's about you stating your preferences, because the preferences of a male are the important ones) doesn't have time to imagine whatever your point truly is as well.

A.R. Chrisman writes for nobody. He isn't writing shit right now. If this whole article was satire, then his crtique is doomed.

Maura Johnston

*fans self*

Maura Johnston

i mean that last paragraph is so otm i am actually getting stomach cramps

Abe Sauer

Nice to see somebody finally using my shtick against me, which, by your clear grudge against my previous work at The Awl, you're probably familiar with. Bravo. And to your point (?), it's reassuring to see that we males have BOTH ends of this objectification argument covered so the girls don't have to trouble their pretty little heads defending themselves against male leering.

Choire

*turns off Internet*

A.R. Chrisman

Abe Sauer: Male Gazing

sorry your heinous

It's times like these I'm glad I'm just narcissistic enough to check back on any replies to my comments.

garge

Winking kitty, I have been trying to *call you for hours, but I can't find your number ANYWHERE.

lbf
lbf

I don't have the 20 paragraphs in me to address how much I don't understand this. I just have questions, like exactly how the very name "In Praise of the Title Nine Catalog" is clearly shooting for some kind of women's advocacy position. Because, like, you wrote this, and I think that is maybe why this article doesn't read right for you? I don't think the article is satire, but I also don't think he's snatching the microphone from the hands of NOW and advocating that all women stop being/looking up to Victoria's Secret models and now be/strive for T9-ness. I've scoured the article and I can't find that idea. Not that I'm denying your right to go 150% tigerbeatdown on it, but, y'know, it'd make more sense as a macro thing and not as an "Abe Sauer is a chauvinist and I did not lol" thing? Like myfanwy was proposing above?

soco

On one hand, the article just makes me think, well, way to miss the point about clothing catalogs? But then again what does a dude looking for a fantasy care about that? So then I wonder why the statement that dudes like looking at ladies, especially ones deemed 'natural,' or 'fun,' or some other projection of fantasy, is in any way remarkable?

But then I read it again and was like, well, okay.

A.R. Chrisman

IBF: I don't have the 20 paragraphs in me to address how to get you to understand this. I just have questions, like exactly.... Ok, I don't have time to do this all over again.

Anyways, Abe Sauer is a chauvinist and, I guess, so am I. Holla!

soco

To answer the question begged by Abe, and to continue my previous thought vomit: Title Nine probably doesn't get more attention because its clothes aren't that remarkable. It's really as simple as that.

quixotic

Erm. Clearly one of the commenters does not understand the concept of humor, no?

matilda wormwood

I'm a lady and I thought this was funny in December, and now. I get A.R. Chrisman's points but I also think Title 9 has finally given lesbians a catalog they can ogle, which is a good thing.

I also like their clothes, as a displaced Northwestern girl with a penchant for "wicking" and "GoreTex." I wouldn't wear them to a rock show, but I'd wear them on a hiking trip, and feel way cuter than I did in the ol' LL Bean duds. In fact, the catalog makes valid points for outdoorsy outings vs. cocktail party benders, which is a good thing.

And as others noted: those abs and gluts actually inspire me to put down the cheesecake fork and do some squats. Whereas the J.Crew and Anthropologie models make me scream, "Eat, woman!" and gloat about my superiorly padded tukhus, while secretly wishing I could could wear those ridiculous pants.

I am a queer chick, and I admit to ogling Title Nine. High five, dude!

But... I don't like your comments about "they might not have the measurements." There's no need to apologize for finding athletic women with personalities attractive. Oh, and the chick in Victoria's Secret? She was airbrushed.

BTW, Title Nine's clothing is pretty awesome. They make great sports bras in reasonable sizes. Also, their stuff is cut in a way that works with muscular, strong, built, lady bodies.

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