Wednesday, July 22, 2009

De-Anonymizing the Model

Jenna Sauers writes a kaleidoscopic farewell to her life as a model, and then eats some French fries.

This is not to say that I didn't enjoy modeling. In point of fact, what kept me in the industry for so long was the constant contact with lovely women, smart women, talented women, hard-working women, inspiring women, women of the sort I wanted to grow up to be. (I met some nice men, too, but, in this industry, there are just fewer of them — fashion is a powerful global business that has the quirk of being thoroughly gendered.) In fact, fashion is the world's largest employer of women; it's an industry of women, by women, for women. I felt like I was always meeting the best of them: Foodie art directors who advised me on which East Village deli secretly sells the best $3 goat tacos East of the Mississippi. Prop stylists who went to RISD, emerged only with an ingrained loathing of the art world old boys' club, and decided to fuck it and paint hay bales odd colors and source antique books for editorial spreads. I remember walking 20 minutes from a train station to get to a photographer's apartment, and then talking for an hour about Tess Of The D'Urbervilles and Cindy Sherman, over tea, while she intermittently remembered to take my picture. (She drove me home, and we worked 12 hours together that weekend.) It took me a very long time to reconcile the apparent disconnect between the consistent wonderfulness of the many people I was working with, and the persistent awfulness of the position of abject and total disempowerment that I, like any non-super model, occupied — to realize that the problems of the modeling industry are not in fact personal, but structural.

It is worth clicking through to read the whole thing.

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