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