2.15.2010

The New York Times

I wanted to share this controversial article from yesterdays New York Times with you:

“I don’t do nudes, I don’t do semi-nudes, I don’t do cigarette shots,” Coco Rocha was saying on Sunday evening before the Diane Von Frustenberg show at the Bryant Park tents. “It took me a long time in the business to realize I didn’t have to do everything people told me I should if I wanted a career.”

Ms. Rocha is a model. Who isn’t nowadays? It used to be that kids wanted to grow up to be astronauts, police officers or doctors. Now it would appear that modeling is the career default of anybody who doesn’t have two heads. Ms. Rocha, according to a well-rehearsed story, was discovered by a scout at an Irish dancing contest in her native Vancouver, British Columbia. Whatever her real name is (apparently Mikhaila, which lacks the show-business pop of Coco), it was quickly altered, and she was sent to see Steven Meisel, the photographer who is fashion’s resident Pygmalion. Mr. Meisel photographed her in 2006 for the cover of Italian Vogue, and there followed in short order a series of high-profile jobs on catwalks, in magazine editorials and in advertising campaigns — enough of them to fill three fat paragraphs on her Web résumé.

The adjective before the word “paragraph” in the previous sentence was chosen for a reason. Despite all the recent blather about promoting wholesome body images and encouraging designers to scale up sample sizes — and a prevalent fantasy that the industry has suddenly embraced people of all sorts and shapes — fat in fashion remains anathema.


Ms. Rocha knows this because, incredible as it may seem to anyone who saw her prance down Ms. Von Furstenberg’s catwalk on Sunday (in what was, by the way, one of the most admirably diverse model castings in many a year), a lot of designers no longer hire her for their runways. They consider her a veritable behemoth in a business that makes a fetish of being what the actress Emily Blunt once termed “edge of ill” thin.


“Everybody knows that, in general, a basketball player needs to be tall and a fashion model needs to be skinny, but how skinny is too skinny?”
Ms. Rocha asked.


Too skinny, according to James Scully, a seasoned casting agent who participated in a recent Council of Fashion Designers of America symposium on this issue, are the young teenagers now routinely cast for European shows.


“A lot of people are accountable, and nobody’s saying anything about it,”
Mr. Scully said. “The business is not thinking about developing these girls as people.”


Well, some people are. Stella McCartney insists that models for her shows have some life experience under their belts, said Mr. Scully, who casts the McCartney shows.


Back in the days when fashion was a more restricted industry and the pool of talent limited, models were groomed and expected to have longer careers, making a transition as they aged and filled out from catwalks to catalogs.


Now, Mr. Scully said, the sheer number of aspirants is so great that a span of five years (or 10 seasons) is almost enough to qualify a model for a gold watch.


“What happens when these girls develop and turn into women?”
Mr. Scully asked. “What’s going to happen to Karlie Kloss,” he added, referring to the teenager discovered at a charity benefit fashion show in her native St. Louis and now one of the most desirable models in the business, “when she develops breasts?”


Ms. Rocha can answer that question. “I’m not in demand for the shows anymore,” said the model, who has worked for Marc Jacob, Prada, Chanel, Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier and Louis Vuitton, among many others.


“I’ve been told to lose weight when I was really skinny,”
said Ms. Rocha, who recently added a new line item to her résumé: correspondent for Modelinia.com, the Web site for the model-obsessed.


“You know what, I’ve stopped caring,”
Ms. Rocha said. “If I want a hamburger, I’m going to have one. No 21-year-old should be worrying about whether she fits a sample size.”


And no lanky 14-year-old should be pressured to starve herself, to cadge prescription drugs like Adderall or to take up smoking as an appetite suppressant.


“Girls are told they’re not skinny enough, or they hear, ‘She’s old, she’s boring, we’ve had her, she’s not tiny anymore,’ ”
Ms. Rocha said. “A lot of people don’t take into account the vulnerability of these young girls.” And the latest crop of models is not made up of “adults or even sort-of adults,” she insisted. “They are children. Point closed.”

By: Guy Trebay

56 comments:

Jack Daniel said...

Interesting post.

I've read somewhere they wanna scoot up the age to 18 instead of starting to use 13 year old kids.

Caroline said...

Coco
You were my favorite fashion model before, and now this gives substance to my reasons. You are such a great role model! Thanks for making me feel better.
Caroline

SASHA said...

Thanks for sharing, Coco! I'm glad you held your stand against all the demands being made in order for you to be booked for runway shows. I hope the younger generation will realize that starving themselves will only result to more complications in their later life. The industry needs more models like you to change the mindset of these young girls.

xo

Lucy in the Sky said...

“I don’t do nudes, I don’t do semi-nudes, I don’t do cigarette shots.”

Coco, you're amazing! You're a great model, but you're so much more than a model as well!

xo Lucy

Emz said...

Absolutely! I think its two ends of the spectrum. Girls need to stop being so absolutely paranoid about their weight, but at the same time, it's ridiculous to make a point by overeating. Whatever it is, I think people need to simply focus on their health, and not that tiny number that flashes on the scale.

Mishka said...

Bravo, Miss Coco. More models should be speaking out about this.

Miranda said...

Oh my god! I love Guy Trebay, but I'm not sure what I ought to think of this story (esp. the second paragraph) but I think it's wonderful that you're not afraid to speak your own mind.

Nevertheless, I really hope that you will continue to strut your stuff on the runway :)

ryder said...

Thank you for posting this and thank you for taking a stand.

elle said...

i saw this online at nytimes and i completely agree with you. models are getting younger and younger, which is completely unrealistic to the targeted high fashion customer. someone needs to say something.

Navneet said...

Wow. This was an interesting read. Thank you so much Coco for standing up for the youth of our generation! I would love to see you on the catwalk reguardless of your age. You have such a passionate way of presenting yourself! :D

Tiffany said...

This is very inspiring and uplifting. Really, it's so encouraging that you're emphasizing the importance of not caving into these pressures. It's really cool that you're not only a great fashion model, but also a role model for others. Thanks a lot for using adding your voice to this important and influential matter.

Shannon Rocha said...

omg !! 0_o

Nick Leonard said...

Excellent article, Coco! It's great you don't pose with cigs, and take your own path you know is right.

FAST ZOMBIE said...

Props on speaking out about the industry! We blogged about this too. ^__^

http://www.fasterzombies.com

Anonymous said...

coco, i love you!
you are such a great role model and i really admire that you are being independent!

i've always wanted to be a model, but people have always told me i wasnt anorexic enough. you dont know how much i've been through. haha

the modeling industry is craazy.

LoliTa said...

great article- well done for not caring! you're totally right about models being so young, I'm glad you give off a good attitude towards this oh-so delicate issue!

http://lolitasaysso.blogspot.com/

Soapee said...

I definitely agree with you!
My mother's cousin's daughter is a model, and although she wasn't as famous as you, I think she was also good! And she also modeled for a few huge fashion lines, too.

But she's older now, and...yeah, no more shows for her.

She's studying in college and hopes to be a pediatrician, though, and I think she'd enjoy her new job!

Susana R. said...

After reading this I can only say that you are a great person and a great model! Thank you for being like this!
Big Kiss
Su

Anonymous said...

I love what you said in that interview!

It explains everything I think about the fashion industry (and its models) now!

You are a perfect role model Coco, thats why you remain as my favorite model.

By the way, I know it may be off-topic, but may be you should consider an alliance with Tyra Banks? Or just an appearance on her show...
she really cares about the industry too.
Even if she is over the top (mostly for the purpose of giving a show) she is intelligent and both of you are already trying on their own to change a little bit the industry. So teamed up, you could have better chance to really change something.

Charlo, from Québec.

Pina Colada Kisses said...

OMG who cares what they say
http://pinacoladakisses.blogspot.com/

hope505 said...

Good one! Thanks for speaking your mind!! !! I'm only a consumer but I have a lot of appreciation and admiration for you, putting your weight (so to speak) behind an issue that deserves serious attention... ~ thank you! ~ for being you!

Jackie said...

Christ. I know the modelling industry has always been something of an evil business but I must have been more naive than I thought to have believed them when people in fashion industry said that they've really been making a concerted effort to make things better for models in terms of promoting healthier body images and refraining from the promotion of eating disorders and such... I kind of wondered why it was I stopped seeing you on all the catwalks and it makes me kind of sad but I think you're completely right in the stance that you've taken. You should be proud of yourself for being a truly exemplary role model, and as a fellow Canadian and young woman interested in fashion I really look up to you more than ever. Thanks for being such a great person! I hope your fashion line sees great success and I'll be a continued supporter of you :)

jjrodriguez said...

That's great! It's true, you don't have to succumb to everything the industry demands in order to be successful.

I'm glad you don't resort to nudity or smoking in editorials. I too would put morals & beliefs before business.

Theraply said...

Way to go, Coco!
We're so incredibly proud of you!
Your neighbors,
Julie, Jason, and Sammy

Steph said...

I think this is wonderful and brave of you to speak like this! However, I found it interesting that the author began the piece with a scathing tone towards you as part of the modeling industry and then the work shifts to paint you and your attitude towards life in a better light. Perhaps this is intentional, but at any rate I think it's great you shared and some important points are raised!

Anonymous said...

Dear Coco,
You are a delightful young woman and I personally think you rock.
I don't think you're the type to let people get you down but if they ever do; remind yourself that you're badass, put on some heels, strut your stuff and let the haters hate.
Designers are taking the easy way out by designing for size 0 girls. It's like trying to make something fit a stick, not a challenge. Good on you for not conforming. Let the other girls starve themselves, go out and ENJOY your life and success! You totally deserve it.
All my love,
A fellow Canadian

P.s.
No matter what anyone says, size 4 (or whatever it is that you actually are now.. I read 4 on the internet. Also, I'm sorry that I read about your dress size.) is not in the slightest 'big.' People are just bitches, don't worry about it.

the prism and the pendulum said...

I think the problem is a lack of imagination in the fashion industry. It's so boring watching a stream of identical Eastern European teenagers walk down the runways. Wasn't the original point of fashion week so buyers could see what they should put in their stores for real women to buy? Now they have no idea what will look good on real women. It's so backwards now!

Oeuforie said...

WTF ? You're are the must beautiful model ! Not too skinny, not too fast, just perfect.
The industry of fashion is just so difficult and unfair i don't understand but everyody is with you, you know that !
Just be you it's perfect like that ! We all loves you !!!

Shannon.Doran. said...

Oh no! I'm glad you decided to do whats best for you- and for everyone else! Your my fave model and now even more so for being an awesome role model! Don't ever stop!

Saun said...

Weirdly young models are treated the same way pedophiles treat their victims. Once they start to look like women and not pre-pubescent children they are disgarded. It's kind of disgusting.

Thank you for speaking up from a model's point of view and enjoying your hamburger when you feel like it. Ultimately fashion should fit the bodies of the real women that wear them. When studying fashion design @FIT I learned that size 10 & 12 are the most common sizes in the US yet sample sizing is constantly being pushed like it's the norm when it isn't.

Sylvia [SpecialSauce] said...

Thanks for sharing, that was really an eye opener.

See also:http://operationbeautiful.com/

Liv said...

You go girl! Many people have already said you are a role model, but what you are in fact is a leader!
We should all start by talking about the weight issue with the people who are close to us: sisters, friends, cousins, etc. The whole society needs to change and I'm sure you will be one of the few leading that effort.
xoxo :)!
Liv

nora said...

Thanks for sharing this, it's an amazing article (i also read the other one on nydailynews.com)

I really appreciate your opinion about all this and hope that in the future more people will change their own opinion into a more healthy one...

Other topic: Didn't know your name was Mikhaila, I always thought how unique Coco was- now I know it's a nickname...but do you have russian ancestors?^^

Anonymous said...

Hi Coco!
I feel so happy and relieved after reading the article you've posted. What delights me it's seeing someone inside the fashion industry speaking out onestly and with consciousness about such an important issue. I love the art of fashion, but I loathe the madness of the industry, relentless until to endanger people it works with ("it uses" maybe would be more appropriate?). You were not one of my favorite models, but you are now one of the models I esteem the most. Keep being who you are, without compromising yourself and your beliefs.

xo
Silvia

ps= I'm a size 4, and I don't care if people consider it a small or a big size, it's my size, I'm okay with it. But there are other people, weaker people, who have to know that size doesn't matter until you're healthy. I express this briefly, the concept needs more development, but I just want to add my voice to yours, and to the voices of other people who, I hope, will join us in the intent of conveying a positive attitude in fashion.

Anonymous said...

You are beautiful and amazing! Since when has a size 4 for any normal woman been considered too big? Especially for a woman that is 5'10"!!

Camila Rye said...

this shows how smart you are, and let me tell you, you are my favourite model!
love from argentina

Rachel said...

you are such an inspiration.

Anonymous said...

its incredible that you are standing up for yourself and for all those females around the world who arent desperately skinny.

it makes me sad that we women (and girls) are made to feel bad about ourselves based on our size, age, sexiness...the list goes on.

its time we all stood up for each other, in all our guises - whether we are young, middle aged, in our later years, tall, short, skinny, plus size, red haired, dark haired, blonde, white, black, asian, inuit, brazilian...

we are all amazing, strong, talented, smart, capable, loving, beautiful people.

i think the people who perpetuate such age-ism and size-ism need to look past their own insecurities and open their eyes to all the kinds of beauty in the world.

mimi said...

coco, you are beautiful inside and out! it's great to hear from an insider who has been there and experienced the fashion world to tell the truth about the mentality of those hiring models. it's unbelievable how this very strange compulsion for "thin thin thin" is getting more and more extreme. soon it will be all about "concentration camp chic" - let's hope it doesn't get to that.

glad to see you've got a sensible head on your shoulders! :)

Shoegal1985 said...

You are candadian, beautiful and smart: no wonder you're a perfect role model!
Congrats on what you do!

Artschool Girlfriend said...

*High Five* Ms Coco Rocha, you rock.

JM said...

I think that someone needs to be accountable. Who makes the casting decisions?

Anonymous said...

Dear Coco,
I love how you are such a role model to so many girls out there and you care for their well-being. When I was on the interenet yesterday evening, I was so amazed about how many stories have come out on MSN, comcast, AOL on all their homepages it had a story about you "being too fat" to do modeling much anymore. My friend is 5'7" and she is a size 4, and so she was surprised when she heard that people thought you were to fat. Honestly you are still as beautiful as you were when you were younger, and I love how you'll eat what you want when you want it and that you understand that yes you are a beautiful woman and you won't let others knock you down. You stand for your beliefs! I also admire the fact that you don't do nude, semi-nude, or smoking pictures, that I think will really help todays generation of kids, with so many sexting and such.
Keep up the good work and influence!

asianlashes said...

hey coco! dont let anyone push you around or let their mean words get to you! YOU'RE GORGEOUS AND BEAUTIFUL INSIDE AND OUT! thanks for sharing this so much, coming from a teenage girl that i am, this honestly means so much to me. you're confidence and strong stand on what you believe in is amazing! i ve read interviews of you where you admit that you're not "the prettiest girl on the block", (but i actually think you are stunning), WELL GUESS WHAT YOU'RE THE AMOUNGST THE SMARTEST AND MOST BEAUTIFUL MODELS ON THE INSIDE IN THE INDUSTRY TODAY!

love from ontario<3

Coco-Rocha-Fan said...

I really think of what you said and you are right!! many girls are trying to be skinny because they say them that they are fat and that is wrong if you are fat it doesnt really matter at all you are still a girl! and no one can change you and if a model wants to eat a hamburger you should let her eat it!

Elizabeth said...

Coco, did you like this article? I felt that the writer was very sardonic, and quite critical of you. I think your message is great, but the article itself if very condescending.

Kadir said...

You are the one who really care about the future of models and model candidates Coco...
I think you must be the models union leader...Because you have enough courage to say what you're really thinking...
We all love you and we're on your side Coco...God bless you;)

Basia said...

Wonderfully done! Now - what snappy rejoinder do we shoot back when they simply say "She's old". One can be anything but old.

julie said...

good for you lady.

john said...

I don't trust any writer who doesn't know how to spell Marc Jacobs. GO ON COCO! YOU ROCK.

Summer said...

Coco, I love how this article just twists everything! Well, that's the news industry.

But, honestly, I must say I'm excited to hear that they are starting to use 13 year olds. It'll help me at least TRY to get an over-obsessed aspiring 13 year old started!

But I would never go to extremes as starving myself. Children should be more responsible than fall under the pressure of the fashion industry. Kids at this age are too sensitive and will do anything to fit the stereotypical image of "perfection".

Perfection is NOT deathly thin.

Mercurialblonde said...

Gemma Ward has practically been hounded out of the industry for her weight, even though now she's still probably a little thin for the acting roles she is wanting.

Good article Coco. Though I think the writer's tone is a little overly harsh.

Sterling said...

"Ms. Rocha is a model. Who isn’t nowadays? It used to be that kids wanted to grow up to be astronauts, police officers or doctors. Now it would appear that modeling is the career default of anybody who doesn’t have two heads."

-That quote literally..just..made my mouth drop. There are models like Karlie Kloss (mentioned in this article), Sasha Pivovarova, Jessica Stam, etc. who have so much artistic abilities, in college, being homeschooled. Just because they're models does not mean they're all idiots. A lot of models from different ethnicities have so much to inspire us by, like Waris Dirie, who was mutilated in her genital areas when she was a kid in africa- (Read February issue of 'Harper's Bazaar')

Coco, you're such a great person, who can stand up for yourself. And thats a good thing. And we should all just say fuck it to the NYT.

-xoSterling

my_name_is_coco said...

heck,whatever your size,whether 4,10,or 14..I don't care.I still think you are an absolute gorgeous model.too bad for fashion designers who don't see that you are a gem..

Elle M. said...

Thanks coco for being such an inspiration for people all over the world and for speaking the truth...
It is a terrible issue that many girls are plagued with and I unfortunately believe it's going to take a long time to get over anorexia as being "in". Great job and kudos for not only writing very well, but also speaking out and sharing your feelings.
We appreciate you and your thoughts !
We love you too, you have a great personality (known thanks to youtube videoes)
:)

Nahrin said...

BRAVO! Its a sin to mistreat these girls that way. If a parent was doing it, they could be in serious trouble, but because its fashion, they get away with murder. So I say BRAVO for your post!