60's Style Was Less Oppresive

This article is from the archive of our partner .

On Sunday, Season four of the fashion-conscious, painstakingly detailed Mad Men arrives on AMC and eager pundits have dissected the plot, the clothes, and the culture. In an op-ed column for The Los Angeles Times, Meghan Daum weighs in on a slightly different topic: the body proportions.

More specifically, she envies the period's dismissal of surgery-enhanced features in favor of, admittedly, old-school "oppressive" formality. Modern viewers are often fascinated by the show's stark depiction of yesteryear backwardness. Daum, though, argues that the sixties-era restrictive undergarments might actually be preferable to what we've got now:

... for all the ways those clothes remind us how far women have come, they also shed light on how fast we hit another wall, one that may be even more constricting than everyday girdles and pointy bras. The post-feminist sensibility eschews such gear yet demands flat bellies; it prizes large breasts but also expects them to stand up miraculously.

In other words, if "Mad Men's" uber-curvaceous Joan Holloway were working on Madison Avenue today, she might visit a plastic surgeon rather than rely on a highly engineered bra. Instead of enduring summer days in stockings, she might endure time in a tanning booth or pay for a spray-on tan ... Deprived of "advantages" like Pilates classes and fat burners and ever-more common surgical procedures, estranged from the feelings of inadequacy that come from "failing" to achieve physical perfection despite the vast array of tools at hand, [Mad Men's] "period bodies" amount to something that, especially when it comes to our idols, is rare today if not downright taboo: normal, regular proportions.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.