The Gok Effect and Real Women

Since Gok Wan returned to Channel 4 with his new Fashion Fix series, it has been refreshing to see real women on the small screen again - the sort who may not be a size 10 but who still want to wear their wardrobes well. Heavens above, even one of the models used for the high street versus designer catwalk competition seemed to be sporting Spanx control pants!

Gok has a way of making women feel good about themselves, regardless of age or body shape, although he is humorously unforgiving about their dress sense or lack of it. His formula is simple: shop for your shape, buy less and wear it more. Spending your hard earned money on expensive mistakes may be lucrative for the fickle fashion industry, but is profoundly damaging, both for your bank balance and your self esteem, so don't allow yourself to be dictated to by the fashion Stasi, who may declare harem pants a must have on Monday and a faux pas by Friday.

Meanwhile, the Susan Boyle phenomenon has fuelled worldwide debate over how women of a certain age, size and shape have been so effectively marginalised for so long. If we are honest, we all expected to witness ritual humiliation when Susan appeared before the 'beautiful people' on the panel of the overhyped Britain's Got Talent show simply because she was an ordinary middle aged woman who dared to declare a professional singing ambition. What we got was one of those emperor's new clothes moments that have become such a rarity in a society whose collective consciousness has been so successfully brainwashed by the mass media.

Writing in The Times, Gillian Bowditch sums up the prevailing sentiment in relation to Susan Boyle, describing her as having "toppled the tyranny to which British women have been subject for so long." Perhaps the tide is turning, and perhaps as Gillian claims, it is the triple whammy of economic recession, the obesity epidemic and our ageing population that has precipitated our long overdue reality check.

Whatever the reason, or combination of reasons, let's begin to celebrate the Zeitgeist.