I see that Prince William's girlfriend Kate Middleton has topped a poll of 'natural beauties'. I'm not surprised - she's very attractive - but why did the poll have to be qualified? Why has natural beauty now been consigned to some sort of niche market?
If you look at the middle shelf of the newsagent, i.e. all of those magazines that are almost soft porn but not quite - Nuts, Zoo, Loaded etc - all you can see is strange-looking girls with surgically-enhanced features. I think they look awful - at best chavvy, at worst more like transexuals - but we are told that this is what men want. Is this really true?
Last year I had a Jordan signing. She looked quite odd - almost as small as a child, but with huge breasts and a strange tan. I liked her. She had no pretensions and seemed very bright, with a good sense of humour. What disturbed me was her fans, several of whom refered to her as a role model. It was particularly disturbing to see that some of Jordan's fans had dressed their seven-year-old daughters in sexy, Jordanesque gear. The underlying message is: don't worry about education and achievement, use your body to get what you want.
That leads on to an item on the BBC News website today that children are being sexualised too early. Girls feel under pressure to be sexually attractive whilst boys apparently feel compelled to be interested, otherwise their peers call them 'gay'.
I agree. During the last decade it feels as if the clock has been turned back and gender stereotyping is back in fashion. At first I embraced it, after the priggish thought-police of the 1980s who condemned Carry-On films. However, when popular culture encourages a perception of women as 'bitches' and 'whores', it's clear that the pendulum has swung too far.
I often wonder if the sexualisation of the young is why the Burkha has become popular amongst young Muslims. It's easy to assume that they've all been radicalised by 9/11, but perhaps it's more a rejection of Western popular culture. I read an article yesterday that said that it was impossible to maintain a mulicultural 'inclusive' school because Muslims would want their children to opt out of activities like 'sexy dancing'. This begs the question, why would schoolchildren being doing sexy dancing in the first place?
Our society commodifies sexual stereotypes like Jodie Marsh, but is that really what men want? I always take great comfort from the fact that in a poll of men in several countries, they said that the sexiest woman in the world was Diana Rigg when she played Emma Peel - an intelligent, independent, silicone-free woman.