I was sitting at the salon last week and therefore thumbing mindlessly through the requisite fashion mags there when I came across the recent issue of Bazaar (Harper’s Bazaar before they dropped the full portion of their name) and was confronted by the solitary image of Kate Moss.
Immediately I was offended by the cover simply because of the image of Kate Moss. The 38 year-old British model who made famous the heroine chic look that took off in the 90’s. Why did this image offend me? Not to put too fine a point on it, I don’t like her. I don’t like her because of what she stands for. I know nothing about her politics, or how she raises her 10 year-old daughter or anything about her personal lifestyle, and frankly I don’t care. I am one of those seemingly rare types that do not care about how celebrities, or even politicians, spend their free time. What I do care about about is what they promote, especially after seeing Miss Representation - see earlier blog entry entitled Girls In The Media.
Here’s what chaps my hide about Ms. Moss: she represents and sells anorexia, drug dependance and recklessness. THis is all well publicized over the course of the last 20 years. Now before you go thinking I am one of those saintly GOP ladies who tout family values but who’s husband is cheating with men under the bathroom stall, let me be clear. I am a Democrat, have had pretty much every conceivable experience out there (except, proud to say anything that would be considered hurtful to others) and have a rather lewd sense of humor. And as a therapist I am also keenly aware of the impact of modeling, fashion or parental, and the effect that culture has on people, usually through negative self-talk and self-loathing.
It comes across loud and clear in my therapy room when young girls dress too suggestively and are not aware of what they are suggesting. Or when women are struggling with self image because they feel they are not measuring up to the standards of beauty promoted by….of course Kate Moss and the beauty magnates that employ her.
Yes the fashion industry, even Hollywood, are the driving forces behind the success of these people, but the buck stops with the consumer. After all, freedom of choice lies squarely in our G-d-given free will and maybe our lack of impulse regulation. It is so easy to go after what is immediately gratifying after all.
But I can’t see the editor of Bazaar in these pages, I see only the skeletal image of Kate and the rock she rests on. I also can’t see the table of contents to find the month of this publication so that feels very manipulative as well - as if fashion and what is hip transcends all time and space now that we should disregard all previous publishing standards. It took me 6 minutes to locate the June/July issue stamp 20+ pages in! It used to be on the spine of the publication.
Why the heck should I care about Kate Moss? Because this women seems to have an incredible amount of power and influence. Despite a sensational cocaine scandal that threatened her career, according to Forbes, Moss has earned more money since her cocaine scandal than ever before: her 2004–2005 earnings were $5 million and her 2005–2006 earnings were $8 million. In 2007, with estimated earnings of $9 million, she was the second highest paid model in the world, behind Gisele Bündchen (Wikipedia). I need to care about this woman because my daughter will be paying attention eventually and will have to decide for herself whether she strives to be like Kate Moss or Kate Winslet. I believe the latter to be a far better role model, both in sophistication and physicality.
You need to care about Kate Moss because of what she sells, and I don’t mean the products. Most of us will never remember what many of these models have represented/sold cause we remember usually the image and how it made us feel rather than the product. That is what the marketing firms are going for, to sell a feeling since it lasts longer than the 30 second snippet of a commercial or glance at a catalog. Ironic that we end up putting so many dollars toward the images that make us feel badly about ourselves in the fantasy that it will help us feel differently.
I am appalled that the spread on Kate Moss is an astonishing 12 or so pages long and there are a couple separate ads within the magazine for other products. There’s no escaping this bony woman! There is no escaping the cultural phenomenon that a woman is supposed to embody the Madonna and the whore (a starving whore) and even then is airbrushed into fantasy even further. The images being sold are unattainable.
However, the drug addictions, sexual self-destruction, eating disorders and self-rage that result are quite attainable and undersold in the distorted reality of the media.
We need to care about Kate Moss a great deal. She has resurrected as the phoenix does and gone on to a successful business, re-establishing her modeling career after the drugs and designing fashion herself. Not everyone will be able to reap those rewards when their consequences hit.