Allison challenged my description of Vogue editrix (and model for Miranda Priestly in “The Devil Wears Prada”) Anna Wintour’s gazelle-like grace. All I can say is that, watching from the middle-distance at the Royalton (it’s another story of how I came to be in such a chic eatery), I thought: gazelle. She has feminine beauty and is said to be hard as nails. An unbeatable combination in the world of high fashion.
I said that I didn’t care for the movie. Now I have an additional reason not to like it: Suzanne Fields says that Meryl Streep has said that she used males as models for playing the role. So it wasn’t just Streep’s haircut that was butch. (The author of the book, called Andrea in the movie, was an Anna assistant.) Another reason not to like the movie: As Fields notes, it’s a feminist polemic (and it could have been so delicious with prettier clothes and less hectoring about life’s choices!):
“Andrea Sachs (played by Anne Hathaway), the character Miranda mentors, ultimately decides that Miranda’s choices are not for her. She scorns the Faustian bargains of the fashion runway for a job at a newspaper. (Whether this is merely jumping into a different frying pan sizzling over the same fire is a subject for another day.) In her new job Andrea is unlikely to make editor in chief nor earn enough to blow $15,000 on a handbag like the one Miranda carries in the opening scene, but she believes she saves her soul.
“If feminism is about choices across a spectrum of options, the lesson life teaches is that every choice requires giving up something in return. That’s the hardest lesson for all of us – feminist, post-feminist, man, woman or child. Instruction inevitably comes from unexpected directions and places. Increasing numbers of women now in their 30s seek fertility treatments, learning to their surprise and disappointment that age influences a woman’s ability to conceive the child she covets. As working women miss seeing baby’s milestones – the first steps, the first words – they begin to think again about what’s really important.
“Linda Hirshman, in a lengthy essay in American Prospect magazine, confidently told women that full-time mommyhood is an enormous waste of intelligence. This was an echo of Simone de Beauvoir, the founding mother of modern feminism, who described a pregnant woman as nothing more than a human incubator containing ‘only a gratuitous cellular growth.’ Miss Hirshman discovered that a lot of women today are riding a pendulum now swinging in another direction. Many were enraged, others felt pity for her limited perception of what women are all about.
“These polarizing exaggerations and generalizations help define the center where most of us live. Modern, middle-class women have choices that our mothers and grandmothers could not have dreamed of. Some women will take their chances, and put off giving birth to their children until they have started careers beyond the hearth and nursery. Others will have their children first and look for rewarding work when the kids are safely in school. Still others will make the costly sacrifices and take the hard risks required of the super ambitious.
“Both the radical feminist and the feminine mystiques are gone, blown away on the winds of change. Although Miranda Priestly grooms her assistant to step into her Manolo pumps, the shoes don’t fit. With a cunning sneer at all those underlings who can’t make it to the top, she turns to her assistant and says, “Everybody wants to be us.” No, Miranda, that’s not quite right. But then the devil always speaks with a forked tongue. Hell hath no fury as a scorned woman boss.”