Simon Says



His name was Bill Farrell, a dashing fashion photographer in New York City who played to the hilt his role as a dashing fashion photographer. I was a young advertising rep for IBM, cutting my teeth on photo shoots of pretty models portraying computer users.

“You can tell what a woman’s thighs are like by her upper arms,” he one day informed me for no earthly reason. “They’re mirror images.”

Ever since, I have gone through life burdened with the unwanted faculty of looking at a woman’s bare arms, but seeing her thighs. Kind of a deviant variant of Superman’s x-ray vision.

Maybe this is why I’m getting so exasperated at the barrage of photos—especially on Facebook—of young women posing for the camera with one or both hands on their hips. The advertising photo at the top of this post is an example. For a truly ludicrous look, young women will pose for a group photo, each of them hands on hips. I’ve seen wedding pictures in which all the bridesmaids—even the bride in flowing white—have hands on hips.

I’m told by my daughters, “Girls do that so their arm won’t look fat."

Who sent out the memo?

I can think of only one person with that kind of clout—Simon. The same Simon from the game we learn as children, in which the players heed only the leader’s commands that start with the words “Simon says.” A player who follows a command not preceded by “Simon says” is out. The object for the player acting as Simon is to get all the other players out as quickly as possible. The winner of the game is the last player who has followed the commands correctly.

Who is Simon? The name “Simon” has been attributed to the persuasive Roman orator, Cicero. Others trace it back to the thirteenth century, when Simon de Montfort captured King Henry III. Any order by Henry could be countermanded by de Montfort. Or perhaps “Simon Says” was chosen simply because kids like alliteration.

In the United States, we call the leader of this game Simon. In France, he's Jacques. In Ireland, it’s O'Grady doing the saying. In Norway, "the King commands" and in Finland, "the Captain commands."

Whatever the history or the culture or the language, the point is the same: listen carefully and do exactly as you’re told.

And today’s young ladies do. From the summer when every young thing in Manhattan went to the office in flip-flops to this year’s legging-clad bottoms, this generation’s rush to conformity is breathtaking. Not only the women. Guys have their ears cocked for whatever Simon says, too. Backward caps, scruffy beards, shorts even in winter. 


Rachel Roy, the iconic fashion designer known for her unique style and striking, feminine pieces, could not have put it more bluntly in InStyle magazine way back in 2011: “Stop putting your hand on your hip when you take pictures!”

So why don’t the young ladies listen to her? Perhaps if Rachel changed her name to Simon.

In my next blog, “They Take So Much”

The stories in my new e-book, A Light from Within, picture the small moments of our lives that seem commonplace until they are examined under a creative lens. Available for downloading at:

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