Ready to Wear: Society holds up an image of beauty that is impossible to achieve
Monday 30 November 2009
Models – like children – should be seen and not heard. Most recently, proof came in the form of Kate Moss who, promoting her latest fragrance, agreed to a rare – indeed, very rare – interview with Women's Wear Daily. Her choice of a paper aimed at industry insiders was a careful one. It did not protect her from mainstream attention, however.
When asked, "do you have a motto?" she replied, "there are loads. There's 'Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels'. That's one of them." And lo! Mayhem ensued. The Sun placed her on its front page and accused her of endangering the lives of teenagers the world over, backed up by quotes courtesy of experts from the paper's doctor Carol Cooper – "she may look good now, but in ten years she will be haggard, wrinkly and on the way to osteoporosis" – to, er, Denise Van Outen.
It is not the first time that Moss has been named and shamed in this manner. Not only has she been accused of contributing to the world's eating disorders but also to any substance abuse, smoking... The list goes on.
Linda Evangelista learnt the potential havoc that speaking out can wreak when, in 1990, she told American Vogue: "We won't wake up for less than $10,000 dollars a day." Overnight, both she and her supermodel sisters were demoted from superstar to demonic status and that probably says more about the way we choose to treat our icons than the nature of the individual in question. Evangelista has since said that the comment was intended ironically. Moss's musings, similarly, were never intentionally damaging. "You try and remember but nothing works," was the follow up suggesting that she too is aware of the fact that both models – and society at large – hold up an ideal of beauty that is well-nigh impossible to achieve.
Finally, when Naomi Campbell sued The Daily Mirror for breach of confidentiality – the Mirror published pictures of her leaving a Narcotics Anonymous meeting – and won, the paper's then-editor, Piers Morgan, said: "This is a very good day for lying, drug-abusing prima donnas who want to have their cake with the media, and the right to then shamelessly guzzle it with their Cristal champagne." Which is nice.
They say that all publicity is good publicity. But these women may beg to differ. The moment they open their beautiful mouths they expose themselves to an onslaught of uninvited moral judgement that is unprecedented. It's small wonder, then, that for the most part, they keep them shut.
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