Surely a burning question, but it is Friday. And although I did take a look at the photos of the royal wedding first thing this morning, Madonna’s increasingly weird face is more interesting to write about. 

Maybe the first question should really be: What is Madonna’s brand and how has it evolved? Having grown up with the Material Girl right from the debut of Lucky Star, I’m sure she represents an ideal quite different to someone who came to know her, say, post-American Life. (FYI: I stopped buying her albums after Ray of Light and stopped listening altogether right around the release of Music.)

I confess I’m not entirely sure what she represents to those on the cutting edge of pop culture—I suspect I’m no longer in her target demographic. But here’s how I’ve always perceived her (which is really what brand is all about) and why I find her plumped-up plastic face so incongruent:

The Madonna I knew inhabited her body, her womanhood and her sexuality fully and without shame. She pushed the boundaries, explored the fringes and repackaged it for the masses in controversial fashion, over-the-top spectacle and catchy pop music. I saw her as an icon for independent women, a beast of her own creation—a gap-toothed, painted lady who aesthetically transformed dozens of times in her career. Definitely not a sheep. At least that’s what I recall when I was still paying attention. 

Madonna is a style chameleon, so the argument could be made that obvious plastic surgery is the natural progression of this characteristic as she ages—and excessive collagen is a spectacle in itself. But . . . still. That level of alteration not only indicates a deep fear of aging (not uncommon or unexpected, even) but also a desire to assimilate; the denial, rather than the celebration, of individuality—not something I associate with Madonna’s brand. She’s erased the uniqueness of her image and joined the overdone plastic creepshow that passes for the Western ideal of female beauty these days. 

So . . . it’s obvious I’m not a fan of her face, but the question still remains: Does it reflect her brand and how? Maybe her crap mug really does reflect her current brand values and I just don’t want to accept the evolution.  




by Murray

I stopped listening to Madonna many years ago, but I think that your gut feeling is correct - she’s simply a parody of the woman she used to be. She’s become just another aging woman who’s going to deny that fact just as long as possible - or perhaps even longer, to the point where’s it’s not funny anymore, but tragic.


by Jennifer

Thanks for your comment Murray.
She doesn’t seem nearly as powerful as a role model for women anymore. But I can sympathize that “pop culture icon” is a tough label to live up to. . .


by Eleanor

i wonder what her image could be that would be empowering to the aging woman that was a rebel in her youth.


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