On his Tuesday night television program, Glenn Beck deviated from the news of the day to speak with fashion icon Norma Kamali, and the message she has been working to share with the nation’s women.
And if you’re not immediately familiar with Kamali’s name, you’re almost certainly familiar with her work.
“Remember that 1970s poster of Farrah Fawcett in a red one-piece bathing suit?” a September 2013 article in the New York Times read. “Those itty-bitty fringe shorts on Beyoncé in her ‘Run the World (Girls)’ video? The vintage wedding dress Lady Gaga wore in her ‘You and I’ video? All Kamali.”
The designer told Beck: “I’ve been around women for so many years, and watched our behavior, because I’m right in there with them. And one of the things I’ve discovered is – we want so desperately to be loved from a very early age. And it’s much more than men have, for women to love them. We want you to love us, we want to have a diamond ring to show somebody loves us.”
Kamali works with women all across the country, from universities to a recent seminar at J.P. Morgan with 600 women, and said that she sometimes references the comedy movie “Bridesmaids.”
“One of the things that I realized when I watched ‘Bridesmaids’…John Ham is seducing this young girl, who is allowing herself, she’s objectifying herself, because she believes she’s going to turn him around and he’ll fall in love with her,” Kamali said.
When she gets feedback on whether anyone else has been in a similar situation, Kamali said “unanimously…we’ve all allowed ourselves to be objectified so that we could be loved.”
It’s a dilemma with no easy solution, but Kamali believes: “It’s also how you feel about yourself and how beautiful you feel that is more important, and I know that sounds right on paper, but there are things to do, and part of my job is find those things to help women discover how to free themselves.”
Beck added that changing the attitude of men is also part of the solution, and Kamali readily agreed.
In a short clip that played before her discussion with Beck, Kamali explained her life and motivations, and spoke about her first job interview. Rather than be treated with any dignity, she said she was told something like: “Why don’t you put your portfolio over there and turn around for me.”
“I just didn’t know what to do, but he was the power in the room, and as I turned around, I started to cry, and I knew that I’d just given up a part of myself,” Kamali said. “…I never told my dad. And I think if every father heard his daughter’s stories of objectification, all of these fathers would have such an incredible influence on the behavior of their sons, of other men they know, of other men in the family, and they would change the way they talk to women.”
[sharequote align=”center”]Norma Kamali: “As long as you’re breathing and alive, there’s something you can create.”[/sharequote]
“I think empowering women is really my life function,” Kamali continued with a smile. “My work. When we are objectified through our lives, which we are, many, many, many times, we keep it a secret because we’re so embarrassed and humiliated by the experience, you don’t want to talk about it to anyone. And I thought that’s what we have to do.”
“How can you waste a day?” she says at the beginning of the clip with a smile. “As long as you’re breathing and alive, there’s something you can create, something you can do, something you can do for someone else. Why not do that? I think, ‘Oh I would love and sit to do nothing for one day. Just one day.’ But then the next day I want to do something.”
Learn more about Kamali’s work at stopobjectification.com. You can also watch the fascinating clip of Kamali describing her motivations, in addition to her interview with Beck, below:
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