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[whitespace] Man in Underwear Balls-to-the-wall satire: Adbusters skewers top-name designers on its website.

Chic Shot

Cyber catwalk spawns anti-fashion websites and plenty of satirical punch

By Paula Harris

RUNWAY DIVAS, style slaves, and hip fashionistas have their pick. Racks of chic magazine layouts, slick advertisements, and cool-chic websites are readily available to dictate exactly what is and what is not au courant. But what about everyone else? Well, a backlash against the fashion-obsessed can also be found on the Web. Here are our top picks for anti-fashion websites. Hey, they might even start a trend.

1. www.riotgrrl.com/feed.htm

It's hard to pass up a serving of the intriguingly titled "Feed the Supermodel" game. Riotgrrl's morphing pics let you transform an emaciated celebrity waif into a fatty by feeding her more than a Carr's water cracker and bottle of Evian. Today, bony, pointy-faced Jennifer Love Hewitt, actress and cover girl, appears on-screen posing on some beach in a stretchy white crop top and painted-on crimson shorts. Feeding time! Just a click and then watch her chin double and her hips expand. "Thank you so very much!," Love Hewett "responds." "Oh! Boy! I am so happy! Can you feed me just a little more?!" But the game has just begun. It's up to you whether you want to help the now-chubby supermodel lose weight by dishing out "comida buena" (including carrots, Slimfast, and vitamins), or turn her into an ecstatic blimp with "comida mal" (including stromboli, 16-oz. steak, and Oreo cheesecake). More satisfying than a platter of ribs!

2. www.thewire.org/jim/mfashion

Men are not immune to the fashion knocks on the Net. This page of "Men's Fashion Rules" by Jim Rosenberg aims to provide a service to the women of the world, since "men are from Kmart, women are from Bloomingdale's." His enlightening tips include such gems as: "A man must never purchase clothes with visible writing, unless it is related to sports or Bart Simpson. This is especially true of Euro-sounding phrases like 'Chunnel Boy' or sissified concoctions such as 'Mummsy's Yacht Club.' " The best Rosenberg Rule is that a man must show no hint of style or flair and strive at all times to approximate Stalin-era work camp garb. "To help resist the urge to improvise, simply recall those '70s shirts with French street scenes, long beagle dog collars, and absolutely no natural fibers," he advises. "These were once thought to be stylish. Men might still be wearing them today, were it not for OSHA's landmark ruling that they were simply too flammable for public use."

3. www.feralcheryl.com.au/

"Thank you for saving the children from stupid, anorexic, dumb blonde dolls with big boobs who wear ridiculous '80s-style clothes!" gushes Heide Belbin of Penguin, Tasmania, at the customer-comments section of this website, the Australian Anti-Barbie, a doll named Feral Cheryl. Yes, this one is for the kids. This is no ultrafashion doll with freakish proportions and tortured feet. Feral Cheryl is a real wild child from the rainforest region of New South Wales, Australia, and was originally created to reflect the "freedom and wildness" of the alternative lifestyles in that area. "Unlike other 'fashion dolls,' the 34-cm. vinyl Feral Cheryl doll is not blonde, and not ridiculously thin," touts the blurb. "She goes barefoot [and] has tattoos, dreadlocks, simple clothes, and a handmade rainbow bag. She lives simply and with a healthy body shape, and pubic hair . . . (hmmm, maybe more than we wanted to know). Feral Cheerily is a natural young woman." And parents, listen up! Feral Cheryl has no fashion wardrobe, sports car, wedding dress, beauty shop, or holiday camper.

4. www.rtmark.com/more/tommy/

In a 1997 nationwide effort to mock notions of "style" mass-marketed to consumers and play on similarities between the words and meanings of "fashion" and "fascism," a group of anti-fashionites calling themselves WearMockers placed parody T-shirts in department stores among similar displayed merchandise. This website tells how they transformed the logo that identifies the popular Tommy Hilfiger line by changing the name in the distinctive red, white, and blue flag-style emblem from "Hilfiger" to "Hitler." Thus, the logo read "TOMMY HITLER." The activists placed hundreds of shirts--and many customers and salespeople often never immediately saw the difference. "It had all of the thrills of shoplifting with none of the guilt," explains WearMocker 017, of Portland, Ore. "We ended up calling it 'shopleaving.' "

5. www.adbusters.org/

Those lovable pranksters at Adbusters are at it again. Check out their spoof fashion ads for Obsession for Men, Obsession for Women, Escape (as in from Calvin Klein), Benetton, Tommy Hilfiger (follow the flock), and one for a certain athletic shoe company featuring a young Asian woman fleeing barefoot. "You're running because you want that raise, to be all that you can be," states the print. "But it's not easy when you work 60 hours a week making sneakers in an Indonesian factory and your friends disappear when they ask for a raise. So think globally before you decide it's so cool to wear Nike." No pain, no gain.

6. www.blank.org/sweatgear/

This parody fashion-catalog site allows customers to select designer attire from old-fashioned sweatshops in El Salvador "for that lean and mean look." For example, THE SWEAT'ER from the Sweat Gear Fashion Line is a choice young sweater from El Salvador's world-renowned labor pool. "Available in sizes from 15 to 26 years old. Pairs up perfectly with transnational capital. Performs under the harshest conditions. Works 13-hour days for 57¢/hour, practically free with every SWEAT GEAR purchase. Do not publicize, unionize, or wash with strong insurgent. Over 60,000 units on hand. Replacements readily available." If that's not to your taste, how about the GLOBAL CITIZEN from the Empowerment Fashion Line? "Which is more important? A bargain in your local fashion mall, or social justice and economic democracy? This Global Citizen doesn't have to ask. She knows it takes grassroots action to build a better world. Not afraid to confront U.S. policymakers or transnational corporations. Supports women who are organizing in the sweatshops of El Salvador. Looks beyond her own backyard to find solutions. Knit together, seamless fabric. One standard of justice fits all." Required reading for Kathie Lee.

7. www.postfun.com/pfp/fashion

Conservatives don't even bother. This satire on Christianity and fashion--"The Week in Fashion Prophecy"--is deeply offensive. And often hilarious. Lots of stylin' sermons here, including "Accessorizing with Gifts of the Holy Spirit," "Accepting Jesus as Your Personal Shopper," and "Cross-Dressing for Less." A segment on WWJD-emblazoned underwear tells consumers, "When the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, let these 100% cotton panties do the talking for you. 'What Would Jesus Do?' " Those words will put a damper on a young man's ardor faster than a bedroom full of stuffed animals. And another section, "Jesus at the Oscars," reports that "while most fundamentalist and evangelical Christians believe that Jesus looks better on the hanger, at Adult Christianity we believe differently. We want Jesus off the rack, out of the closet, and into the scene. While Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, we're quite sure his handlers would, with key accessories, periodically update his timeless style." The report lists suggestions for outfits, including a transparent latex beaded shirt--skintight (like Prada)--and lace-up boots with big heels, as a nod to his blue-collar roots. "Although this is all speculation," it continues, "I'm quite sure Jesus would not be nailed down to one particular look. I think he would always surprise."

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From the September 21-27, 2000 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

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