In the Dominion Post's new "Your Weekend" tabloid lift-out on Satrday (11 September) there was an article about Fashion Week (which "turns 10 this month"). It quoted Petra Bagust saying (twice - once in the text and once in the caption) that she was a "self-confessed "designer whore'".
Call me hopelessly old-fashioned and out of touch, but I was taken aback by this phrase. I hadn't seen it before. Apparently (so the Urban Designer site tells me) it means "a person who only cares for/wears designer labels".
Sure enough, a quick search revealed that Ms Bagust had said much the same thing last year: "I'm a friend of New Zealand designers or a designer whore, depending on how you look at it, but I like to think of myself a friend."
Why did I find this expression so startling? I'm not sure. To me a whore is someone who sells sex for money. It's also a term of abuse used by men - and sometimes other women - to put down women they disapprove of.
I can see that it might be a good idea to reclaim this term (much as Mary Daly wanted us to reclaim words such as "crone") and thereby take away its power to condemn some women. Is that what's going on here? Somehow it doesn't feel like it. Instead it feels as if this is yet another example of attractive young women doing their utmost to prove they're so up with the play that they don't care what they call themselves (or wear on their T-shirts), as long as they give the impression that they're at the furthest possible remove from being a prude. And that's not exactly progress - is it? What do you think?