Thursday, May 5, 2011

Vanity, Thy Name Is Tori...

Thanks to two fellow Tori Amos fans, I saw the cover of her upcoming album this morning on Facebook. Before I even had a chance to read anything about it, I was completely shocked and appalled by what I saw: her face. It looks... Plastic. Botoxed. Plump. Some, such as my best friend and "blanket girl", think it's simply makeup and PhotoShop trickery, but further inspection by the rest of the Girl Zone is leaning toward more drastic cosmetic procedure. Perhaps that is true. But regardless of whether it is permanent or digital alteration, I still find it bothersome. Before I dive into why, I will provide two photos for your evaluation. To try to be fair, I used the cover of her previous album as a basis for comparison. I figure, both are enhanced in some way and comparing a candid street shot to an album cover seems skewed. The first photo is from an album released in 2009. The second, an upcoming September release. We're talking two years in between...

Granted, our relationship over the past several years has been strained. I find it difficult to connect with much of her music after a certain point, and a larger part of her work has become almost nothing more than nostalgia for me. However, I cannot forget the impact that her music had on me as a teenager and young woman. And I wonder if there are no new little Tori-philes being brought into the fold, or if we're just all "Original Sinners" who are growing up and aging along with her. But if there are new youngins, I have several concerns.

Whether this alteration is permanent or digital is irrelevant. The fact remains that she made the decision to make herself appear younger, so much so, that she's barely recognizable. The reason doesn't matter either--the pressures of being a famous woman, vanity, blah blah blah... If there is one thing that Tori has always been about, it's natural beauty, embracing life and time, and while sometimes isolating and difficult, being true to whomever is in your skin. Her "quirky" beauty has always been part of her trademark, combined with that famously aflame red hair and incredibly unique wardrobe choices. But this "transformation" sullies all of that. She's fallen victim to the very pressures of "typical" beauty that she has so passionately rebelled against.

She's betrayed the raisin girls... and although it's not adolescent pressure, she's seemingly succumbed to the Hollywood and societal pressures she's stood apart from as a figure for those of us who did not (and still don't) fit certain criteria. There are countless songs that come to mind, threads of lyrics that I can point to that I suddenly feel have been completely shattered and lost all depth and meaning.

"I remember / yes in my peach party dress / no one dared / no one cared / to tell me where the pretty girls are/ those demigods / with their NINE-INCH nails / and little fascist panties / tucked inside the / heart of every nice girl... these precious things / let them break / their hold over me" ("Precious Things").

Knowing as much as I do about her, what she stands for, what she believes in, and how she's been an icon for women and girls who just don't "fit the mold", this is infuriating. Has she really become another Barbie-doll faced, middle-aged woman who just can't bear the idea of looking a bit older or aging? What is she telling her younger fan-base by appearing this way? It's okay to celebrate your unique beauty until a certain age, and then you have to hop on the Botox-wagon? Her daughter will see this one day.

I'm disappointed in her, especially because it's so drastic. I'm not saying a little nip here, or a little pull there would be a horrible thing, but this... it's like a betrayal. I expect this from Hollywood, from actors and actresses who make (or don't) their living based on the youthful (or lack thereof) appearance of their face and body. But not her. Her talent is not attached to her face.

What's worse is that she still looked amazing just two short years ago! I am--or was--of the opinion that she got prettier as she got older. She seemed to give off a sense of sophistication and grace, evolving naturally with time and maintaining her quirk while allowing it to also mature. But again... that idea has been destroyed.

So, while I'd hoped that someday I'd once again find a resonating chord in her music, that it would somehow return to me and bond with a now-grown Toriphile, I am going to have a difficult time having the same respect for her as I once did, with that puffed up, expressionless face plastically staring  at me...

And to the raisin girls: Ten years from now, if I ever talk of stabbing myself in the face with botulinium toxin... shove this post in my face, please.


  1. Oh, I sooooo love this, Nikki, and I'm so happy you wrote a post about it. I totally agree. I have always thought that Tori embodied the strong woman who was comfortable in her skin and with who she was. She seemed to age gracefully, and, like you, I was always of the opinion that she looked more and more beautiful with each passing year.

    Did you read the description of her latest album? “The protagonist is a woman who finds herself in the dying embers of a relationship. In the course of one night she goes through an initiation of sorts that leads her to reinvent herself allowing the listener to follow her on a journey to explore complex musical and emotional subject matter. One of the main themes explored on this album is the hunter and the hunted and how both exist within us.” <I read this and thought to myself that Tori ALWAYS understands me and somehow her themes echo places I've been or have just come from.

    Here's hoping that photograph is just some bad lighting. Fingers crossed.

  2. Thank you. :-) It really struck such a nerve, I couldn't ignore it. I expect something like this from Britney Spears, even Madonna, because (well, forget about Britney, 'nuff said) Madonna never really went that route... she didn't position herself as Tori has. Not that her music wasn't ground-breaking and influential, because it was. But she went the sex appeal, bad-girl route. A total trailblazer, but she gave the finger to EVERYONE. It'd be like if Madonna suddenly became a nun. That's kinda how I feel about this.

    Wow... that's quite a description. Perhaps I can forgive this infraction, and we can harmoniously reunite once again. LOL! Seriously, though, I do hope this album delivers because I haven't been really touched by any of her work since Scarlet's Walk. It's been too long.

  3. Nicely done! I'm with Charlotte...I'm hoping the photograph is bad lighting and maybe a thematic nod to the story of the album?