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This Week In Role Models
I just loved this article in the Observer knocking all the holier-than-thous for firing Kate Moss. (Hello? Like none of the designers or anybody in the fashion industry is nose deep in coke – or more.) Here’s an excerpt from the piece by Sean O’Hagan:

In the ongoing tabloid-led witch-hunt, it is worth remembering that the Myth of Moss was created and sustained by us - the media and the public - and that she is an icon because we made her one. No matter how much we might have willed it, though, she was never a role model in the accepted sense. Burberry knew that. Chanel knew that. Rimmel knew that. They hired her for her edge and her outlaw cool as much as for her good looks and her sex kitten allure. In short, they too bought into the Myth of Moss in all its chemical potency. Only a Daily Mail reader or a chief constable could possibly reduce Kate Moss to something as dull and well-meaning as a role model. The rest of us loved her because she was anything but.

UPDATED: Here's another interesting bit from a Rebecca Traister Salon piece on the hypocrisy:

Of course, Moss' real error was in getting caught on tape, a situation that is certainly unfortunate for her, but just as inconvenient for fashion companies, now forced to place their favorite clotheshorse in the stocks, and to distance themselves from her by proclaiming their wide-eyed innocence.

What this drama has done is lay bare the ugly skeleton that holds up a fashion industry that for some time has prized hollow cheeks and vacant eyes, stunted, prepubescent frames, and jutting collar bones from which fabric drapes beautifully. In other words, the body that is appealing to designers -- and thus to consumers -- is a body that looks like it has been ravaged by drugs. In order to stay employed, models must maintain this shape; to maintain the shape they must do something besides eat right and exercise regularly. Whether it's cocaine or speed or heroin or caffeine or cigarettes or anorexia or bulimia or some combination of the above, most adult women cannot get bodies that look like Moss' healthily, because hers is not a healthy body.

On Thursday, a spokeswoman for cosmetics firm Rimmel announced that the company was "shocked and dismayed by the recent press allegations surrounding" Moss, and that it would reconsider its relationship with her. Earlier, the CEO for Gloria Vanderbilt denim had told the press, "We would have second thoughts about using Kate Moss" again, and that "we weren't aware of any issues with Kate prior to this campaign."

The fashion companies' professions of surprise are hard to believe. Would it be more embarrassing for them to admit they hired a model who they knew had done drugs than it is for them to admit to never having picked up a paper? Moss has spoken of her own drug use many times, and did a widely reported stint in rehab in 1998. She has denied heroin use, and often claimed she was clean, but in 2003 she gave an interview in which she said that dabbling was fine, but that an earlier period she'd spent immersed in drug use "wasn't a nice time."

Moss' record alone renders Gloria Vanderbilt's and Rimmel's assertions of naiveté ludicrous. And what about H&M's statement to the New York Times, that "If someone is going to be the face of H&M, it is important they be healthy, wholesome and sound"? The spokeswoman also told the Times that after feedback, "we decided we should distance ourselves from any kind of drug abuse."

Remember Capt. Renault's assertion to Rick Blaine in "Casablanca" that he is "shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here," just before the croupier hands him his winnings?

If it were important that the face of H&M be healthy, wholesome and sound, the company would have very few working models to choose from, and everyone -- both in and out of the fashion industry -- knows that.

Posted by aalkon at September 25, 2005 7:34 AM

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Comments

Did we cover this last week with Paris Hilton? Yes we did! But so what!

> it is worth remembering that the
> Myth of Moss was created and
> sustained by us - the media and
> the public - and that she is an
> icon because we made her one.

So far so good.

> The rest of us loved her because
> she was anything but.

Well, maybe some people liked her because she was cute!

The other piece is more wrong:

> the body that is appealing to
> designers -- and thus to consumers...

Aw c'mon... Even the omnipotent Gay Media elites, ruthlessly pursuing their deadly Gay Agenda, aren't that powerful.

> ...is a body that looks like it
> has been ravaged by drugs.

Maybe it ain't the druggy look, it's the implicit androgyny, i.e. girls without flesh, i.e., boys. I'm starting to think that maybe the popular adoration of these (literal) figures is a just a backhanded way of enjoying the adolescent masculine (undifferentiated) form. Why go to the trouble? Maybe that feeling is inappropriate when we're all supposed to be admiring the physique of whoever's hot in the NFL this year. But it's plainly insane to say that Moss is built like a woman. And I knew several guys who were shaped like that in 7th grade, and they didn't start doing drugs until YEARS later.

> what about H&M's statement to the
> New York Times, that "If someone
> is going to be the face of H&M,
> it is important they be healthy,
> wholesome and sound"?

Hypocrisy is underrated. I'm glad these companies fear association with cocaine, which is a fairly miserable drug.

Lilies said of hypocrisy: "I’ll take a cheerful civic lie over bald flat prominent disinterest any time. They’re necessary falsehoods, and civilization depends on them. Who believes that hypocrisy is somehow the greatest sin of all? Adolescents. Which ought to tell you something."

Posted by: Crid at September 25, 2005 11:41 AM

Whoops, that was Lileks, not Lilies.

(Go ahead and smirk like YOU never had a Sunday brunch mimosa before writing a blog comment)

Posted by: Crid at September 25, 2005 11:43 AM

EEk!!!! WTF have you done with your text styles?? 'blogbody' has gone all teensy, but at least the column width is reasonable and I can read it. 'comments-body', on the other had, has gone huge and disappeared off the left side of my screen. Unreadable. Poo.

Posted by: Stu "El Inglés" Harris at September 25, 2005 4:15 PM

We're having some tech issues, to say the least. Gregg is working on it. Are you on a Mac or a PC? And what browser?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 25, 2005 7:32 PM

PC, Netscape 7.1, 800x600 resolution. And I utterly refuse to make my browser window full-screen just to read blogs. I've had to stop reading Huffington-Puffington for the very same reason.

Posted by: Stu "El Inglés" Harris at September 26, 2005 7:07 AM

Stu, that is so helpful. Thanks to you, I have my boyfriend on the phone now, and we're going to make it 800x600. Just to keep you! Okay, among other reasons. But it's smart. And thanks.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 26, 2005 7:35 AM

You mean 800 width, right?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 26, 2005 7:36 AM

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