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on Kate Moss, and "taking one for the team"
November 5, 2012 9:10 AM   Subscribe

On Kate Moss, and Taking One for the Team: "So, earlier this week Vanity Fair published a rare interview with Moss, in which the model, who is well-known for her circumspection, is unusually frank about the early years of her career. Moss was still a skinny, gangly teenager when she was plucked from mediocrity in Croydon and catapulted to superstardom. She was barely an adult, almost still a child, when she did her first topless photo shoot, with Corinne Day for The Face. In the interview, she talks about how uncomfortable this made her... This isn't the only the only revelation Moss made during the interview. It also turns out that the famous Calvin Klein campaign she did in 1992 with Mark Wahlberg gave her a nervous breakdown... Conveniently ignoring the fact that when the pictures were taken, Moss wasn't 'the face of the '90s', but a skinny teenage girl who cried because she was made to take her clothes off, Needham continues by saying that Moss' skinny frame 'seemed to encapsulate the euphoria of those long-distant times.'"

*summary of the Vanity Fair interview at Vanity Fair
*Alex Needham - How a 16-year-old nude Kate Moss ushered in the 90s: "Moss may regret that early shoot, but it took beauty out of the realm of fantasy glamour into something more wonky and fallible"

*Kate Moss: the style icon who suffered in silence: "This week, a new coffee-table art book dedicated to Kate Moss is published... it will no doubt be a thing of great beauty, but it won't attract half the fuss that last week's Vanity Fair interview with Moss has."
*Was Kate Moss exploited as a young model?: "In 1990 she was just 16 when a nude photoshoot launched her career. But it wasn't a happy time, says the supermodel"

photos (may be NSFW for some):
*her first topless photo shoot, with Corinne Day for The Face, 1990
*the famous Calvin Klein campaign with Mark Wahlberg, 1992
*Vogue UK shoot by photographer Corinne Day, 1993
posted by flex (92 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
I remember seeing an interview with a model whose description of the experience was "I was hungry for twenty years."
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:14 AM on November 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Is there any aspect of the fashion industry that isn't exploitative and/or reprehensible?
posted by Thorzdad at 9:18 AM on November 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


I miss The Face.
posted by Blue Meanie at 9:22 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


[Make an effort folks, early threadshitting considered harmful to constructive discussion]
posted by jessamyn at 9:23 AM on November 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


The main link has a topless photo, might be NSFW for some.
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 9:24 AM on November 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


While I will never understand fashion in any way (wearing something because you were told to wear it... utterly baffling) I have always had a soft spot for Kate, not sure why, she just always seemed like someone who could use someone on her side, I guess this interview explains that impression to a certain extent, maybe she had no one on her side.
posted by Cosine at 9:25 AM on November 5, 2012


Is there any aspect of the fashion industry that isn't exploitative and/or reprehensible?

Can we say Tim Gunn? Please?

The NYTimes had an article on Moss this weekend: The Garbo of Fashion.
posted by OmieWise at 9:26 AM on November 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


It is sort of amazing how you can't even simulate sex between consenting 16 y.o.s in a movie, but you can force them to strip to sell shirts.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:26 AM on November 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


Kate Moss does full-frontal nudity all the time - more than any other model of her rank. Including a Chuck Close portrait that presented the naughty bits at Chuck Close-scale.

However uncomfortable she might have been with nudity when starting out, she clearly got over it.
posted by Egg Shen at 9:27 AM on November 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


I want to say I'm shocked and repulsed by some of these comments here, but honestly I should know better by now.

Still repulsed though.
posted by kmz at 9:29 AM on November 5, 2012 [13 favorites]


And fwiw, I absolutely, shamelessly love Kate Moss.

who has spent so much time as tabloid prey that her daughter’s first word, she said, was “Nazzi,” a child’s version of paparazzi.

Like she's gonna tell you the truth about that. She's no dummy.

Is there any aspect of the ____ industry that isn't exploitative and/or reprehensible?

Pick one.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:30 AM on November 5, 2012


However uncomfortable she might have been with nudity when starting out, she clearly got over it.

“I’ve done a lot of nude pictures and it doesn’t bother me at all anymore,” Ms. Moss said. She has appeared naked enough that, while “Kate Moss” is a document of the model’s career pitching designer creations, it is surprising how seldom she seems to have been wearing clothes.

“When my daughter opened the book, she said, ‘Oh no, mummy,’ ” Ms. Moss said, referring to Lila Grace Moss Hack, 10, her child from a marriage to the editor and publisher Jefferson Hack. Ms. Moss vowed to her daughter that there would be fewer crotch shots in the next book.


LOL.

Grow up, people.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:33 AM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


However uncomfortable she might have been with nudity when starting out, she clearly got over it.

I don't think it works that way. More, I think she's telling us in the article that not only is she not over it, it's still affecting her and the way she approaches her career to this day... maybe including an exhibitionist strain she may not be comfortable with, but feels unable to control.

There's a reason why it's creepy to sexualize 16 year olds - they're not done maturing yet, and it can and does cause lasting harm.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:33 AM on November 5, 2012 [27 favorites]


However uncomfortable she might have been with nudity when starting out, she clearly got over it.

And that is one hundred percent okay. It's absolutely fine for an adult woman to be comfortable being photographed naked, and to enjoy that, and to do it as often as she pleases.

And it's still okay for that same woman to admit that being photographed naked as a teenager was not a positive experience.

I think most of us can admit that there are things we were uncomfortable engaging in as younger people that we feel perfectly at ease with as fully grown adults.
posted by padraigin at 9:33 AM on November 5, 2012 [96 favorites]


Any industry that continues to glorify an incarnate demon like Terry Richardson gets no love from me.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:37 AM on November 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


padraigin: Extremely well said.

Very interesting to see what mefites considered acceptable to shit upon. I think in this case it centres around her being beautiful, white and paid stupid amounts of money to do something most people consider kind of stupid.

Were she a black supermodel I guarantee the comments in this thread would read differently.

Also, where the hell were her parents?
posted by Cosine at 9:39 AM on November 5, 2012


I find it really hard to imagine working as a photographer and coaxing a crying subject to do something she didn't want to do, especially something as charged as posing without clothes.

Also, back in the nineties most people I knew really loathed Kate Moss. In fact, as recently as a few years ago, everyone loathed Kate Moss. She has unpleasant corporate connections (that skeevy TopShop dude), there's some kind of racism thing I dimly remember, plus that drunken boyfriend. I mean, she was "the face" of the nineties if you mean "the face that people love to talk about as 'that awful scrawny girl who represents what is wrong with nineties fashion'". Sassy trashed on 'heroin chic' (as it was known then) implicitly or explicitly referencing Moss.

She was not considered classy or Garbo-esque or wonderful or any of that. She was considered young and trashy and her skinniness was constantly debated and ridiculed. She became a trope for being too skinny and doing drugs. I was young then and read a lot of fashion stuff and I remember.

It's interesting that now that she is old in fashion model years everyone wants to be sympathetic instead of hateful - probably some of the same people who have just switched gears, too.

It seems so dumb and depressing that the poor kid gets built up and torn down over and over again all to feed people's appetites for celebrity nonsense. It''s very much about some kind of weird enjoyment of female suffering, too - I think there's an element in all this model business where people semi-consciously enjoy knowing that there's so much abuse and hunger and non-fun drug use, that there's something enjoyable in the very idea of beautiful young women being made to suffer at the behest of advanced capitalism.
posted by Frowner at 9:40 AM on November 5, 2012 [35 favorites]


(wearing something because you were told to wear it... utterly baffling)
Cosine

You do this too, you just don't realize it and chalk it up to merely dressing as you like...which everyone believes themselves to be doing. The only difference is who is doing the telling.
posted by Sangermaine at 9:41 AM on November 5, 2012 [24 favorites]


Were she a black supermodel I guarantee the comments in this thread would read differently.

Really? I'm not convinced, and more to the point, I'm not sure the problem here is easily attributed to Moss's privilege. I would tend to look on it as the opposite.
posted by OmieWise at 9:43 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well said Frowner, and the photographer who pushed her into taking the photos and made her cry was probably thinking the same thing: "Ahh, she hates it now but she'll be a multi-millionaire and I'll be the one who started it all and she'll have ME to "thank" later on down the road." Pretty bizarre actually. Not that it's uncommon.
posted by ReeMonster at 9:44 AM on November 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Dunno, I think the money, far from making it ok, is like carefully controlled dosages of heroin administered by a pimp. You are 16 and have people, who all want to keep the money flowing, handed enough money to dig a deeper hole, become dependant.That is the sad part of life, people adujust to anything, jails and gilded cages. She is as institutionalized as anyone.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:45 AM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


In fact, as recently as a few years ago, everyone loathed Kate Moss.

Not true. I've always adored Kate Moss. I guess I'm not "anyone."

chalk it up to merely dressing as you like...which everyone believes themselves to be doing

Again, put me in the "not everyone" category. ;)
posted by mrgrimm at 9:46 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is something about Kate Moss I find uniquely accessible. I am sure advertisers see it, too.
posted by Xoebe at 9:50 AM on November 5, 2012


(wearing something because you were told to wear it... utterly baffling)
Cosine

You do this too, you just don't realize it and chalk it up to merely dressing as you like...which everyone believes themselves to be doing. The only difference is who is doing the telling.


Call it naive if you want but no, I really don't and I think lots of others don't either, at least as far as dress is concerned. There is a possibility that an ad campaign informs me of a product which I try and like and wear, but that is because it fits my body and budget and style. I wear nothing just because I was told to think it is cool (ask Cosette, it's pretty slobby around here).

That being said, I certainly did when I was younger, and the kind of products and brands that Kate endorsed certainly had a voice there, not as big as most of my friends but certainly there.
posted by Cosine at 9:52 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


that drunken boyfriend.

That's some understatement there.
posted by srboisvert at 9:58 AM on November 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


You do this too, you just don't realize it and chalk it up to merely dressing as you like...which everyone believes themselves to be doing. The only difference is who is doing the telling.

Also, there's a world of difference between "everyone 'round here wears flip-flops and cutoffs in the summer so I will feel a bit weird if I wear heels and a dress" (or vice-versa) and a constant barrage of fast-fashion marketing for specific brands and extremely nuanced style messages. "I'm the type of person who wears a sweater and jeans" is quite different from "I'm the type of person who wears Japanese ring-spun denim from Common Projects and a Wings & Horns cardigan". Humans are social creatures, we certainly do dress according to social norms. But that does not mean that all social norms are the same.
posted by Frowner at 9:58 AM on November 5, 2012


there's something enjoyable in the very idea of beautiful young women being made to suffer at the behest of advanced capitalism.

Oh, of course. Look at how submissive all the female models are compared to the men.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:01 AM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wear nothing just because I was told to think it is cool

I also wear nothing, and it IS cool. It is fucking freezing, actually. Also, you do the school run ONE TIME and get arrested and put on the sex offenders register. It's just fashion nazism if you ask me.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 10:01 AM on November 5, 2012 [16 favorites]


God that first link is a bunch of angry flame bait. I suppose the internet never runs dry on screed, could use more art criticism.

Unless you actually stitch together and dye your own clothing you are part of the fashion machine, although you may be in the gutter runoff between target and goodwill.
posted by Shit Parade at 10:03 AM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I find it really hard to imagine working as a photographer and coaxing a crying subject to do something she didn't want to do, especially something as charged as posing without clothes.

I read this and immediately thought of, ugh, Terry Richardson.
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 10:03 AM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wear nothing just because I was told to think it is cool

I also wear nothing, and it IS cool. It is fucking freezing, actually. Also, you do the school run ONE TIME and get arrested and put on the sex offenders register. It's just fashion nazism if you ask me.


Damn, that is funny. And great word choice by me, whoops.
posted by Cosine at 10:04 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't watch the "Next Top Model" reality tv shows, but I do know they (or at least the British ones) do include a nude or topless session and the message to would be models appears to be that this type of shoot is not optional to progress to the first rung in the industry. To recap: this is mainstream TV, not the outer reaches of Terry Richardson's imagination.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:04 AM on November 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


Were she a black supermodel I guarantee the comments in this thread would read differently.

Yes, because then the comments would have added racism to the general douchey tone.
posted by elizardbits at 10:07 AM on November 5, 2012 [20 favorites]


Were she a black supermodel I guarantee the comments in this thread would read differently.

Yes, because then the comments would have added racism to the general douchey tone.


I meant this here metafilter thread, not the thread in the link, is that what you are referring to?
posted by Cosine at 10:11 AM on November 5, 2012


//In fact, as recently as a few years ago, everyone loathed Kate Moss.

This is categorically and demonstrably untrue. She's THE most successful model of all time in terms of improving sales by a factor of like, 100. Hire Kate Moss, sell more stuff, guaranteed.

What I've always liked about her is that she never made any bones about it being a job that she was lucky to get. You don't see her rambling on about how hard it is to be so beautiful, or how everyone hates her because she's pretty. In fact I don't think she's ever said a bad word about anyone, or them about her. She's been in the top of her game forever, is obviously savvy and popular and powerful and yet still likable and seen as down to earlh and fun. It's impressive.
posted by fshgrl at 10:12 AM on November 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


I wear nothing just because I was told to think it is cool (ask Cosette, it's pretty slobby around here).

But unless you're shopping exclusively at thrift stores (and even then...), you are (to quote Miranda Priestly) "wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room. From a pile of stuff."

Almost no one here is ever going to wear or has ever worn the kind of couture that Moss has modeled, but most of us do end up wearing the clothes that trickled down from that couture. That's not accidental on the part of the fashion industry. Those $3,000 trousers that were shown on a catwalk in Milan became, after some alchemy, the $30 pants you got at Nordstrom Rack a year later.
posted by rtha at 10:14 AM on November 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


The thing is, it's creepy and gross exploitation all the way down - from Kate Moss to whatever anonymous model Dov Charney is having it off with this week to the shop girls getting fired if they don't look right to the warehouse workers shipping this stuff to the sweatshops making it. Even couture is not immune, though certainly the houses that do very specialized things (the places that do embroidery and beading for the couture, very high-end shoe makers like Edward Green) seem like they wouldn't be bad places to work.

It is not nice, not nice at all, and of course one is not supposed to complain or even comment because "unless you actually stitch together and dye your own clothing you are part of the fashion machine". Which is pretty much the capitalist version of the anarchist thing about how if you vote you are complicit and should not complain about anything, since of course the only just criticism of any aspect of capitalism comes from people outside the system...which is very convenient, as there is no outside.
posted by Frowner at 10:14 AM on November 5, 2012 [16 favorites]


//In fact, as recently as a few years ago, everyone loathed Kate Moss.

This is categorically and demonstrably untrue. She's THE most successful model of all time in terms of improving sales by a factor of like, 100. Hire Kate Moss, sell more stuff, guaranteed.


That may be true however if I mention that I like Kate Moss to friends I will get a more negative response than any other supermodel I can think of. I think that is what is being referenced.
posted by Cosine at 10:15 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've been thinking for a while that it should be illegal to use under-18 models in adult fashion and photography - largely in response to stories of abuse like this, and much worse (full on sexual assault on underage models, combined with threats against their careers). We have all sorts of protections for children and teens working in television and film, but none for the fashion world -- and while it's fine for children to model Sears clothes with their parents on set, there is absolutely not justification for asking a 16-year old to pose topless. They aren't old enough to be able to make that decision. I don't know if an 18-year-old is old enough, but that's where we've drawn the adult line and it's better than nothing.

the fact that we use children to sell adult clothing is incredibly unhealthy - for them, and for the rest of us. It should just stop.
posted by jb at 10:16 AM on November 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


Perhaps it’s the fashion industry that’s exploitative, perhaps it’s just our entire society’s attitude towards labour. I’d argue that the exploitation of celebrity fashion models like Kate Moss is simply more visible, and certainly a sexier subject than most forms of worker exploitation. While I don’t want to minimize the trauma of Ms. Moss’s early career, I simply don’t see how it’s different from what goes on in any number of fields we never really think of as exploiting youth.

What about construction, for instance? I never cried, but I was pretty frightened as a 16 year old when my boss told me to wash concrete stains off a cliff face with a bucket of undiluted hydrochloric acid, 30 feet up an unsecured extension ladder. The fumes burned my eyes, nose and throat, plus my fear of falling never went away, so I gave up after a few hours. My boss fired me. It was probably for the best.

Just this year, as I have had trouble finding better work, I had been working for cash as a labourer. No longer a teenager, there is stuff I won’t put up with. I demolished a roof without fall protection, but I drew the line at removing asbestos without proper equipment.

Why did Kate Moss take her clothes off even though she was uncomfortable? Why is mesothelioma a leading cause of work-related deaths? Because our society is one where the term “human resources” is considered blandly neutral, and if you aren't one of the lucky few, you are going to be exploited.

If Kate Moss's early experiences had convinced her that modeling was too demeaning, perhaps she would have taken up working as a server in a smoky pub, slept with her boss to keep her job, and contracted lung cancer as a retirement present after decades of being sexually harassed by drunken patrons. But at least she would have escaped the exploitation of the fashion industry.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 10:17 AM on November 5, 2012 [34 favorites]


But unless you're shopping exclusively at thrift stores (and even then...), you are (to quote Miranda Priestly) "wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room. From a pile of stuff."

Yes, but I wasn't arguing that, I understand that people who DO care very much about cool selected what I get to chose from, I was just saying I didn't select it for being cool. There is a clear distinction.
posted by Cosine at 10:18 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I'm the type of person who wears a sweater and jeans" is quite different from "I'm the type of person who wears Japanese ring-spun denim from Common Projects and a Wings & Horns cardigan".

I thought the fact that all clothing is drag was well-known by now.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:20 AM on November 5, 2012


I don't watch the "Next Top Model" reality tv shows, but I do know they (or at least the British ones) do include a nude or topless session and the message to would be models appears to be that this type of shoot is not optional to progress to the first rung in the industry. To recap: this is mainstream TV, not the outer reaches of Terry Richardson's imagination.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:04 PM on November 5 [1 favorite +] [!]


They also don't let under-18s on the show, unlike the real fashion industry which recruits young teens.

Adult models and actors know what they are getting into and have at least a bit of maturity with which to to make their own choices. Children, especially young teens, are vulnerable and at the same time often unaware of how vulnerable they are.
posted by jb at 10:20 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think she's telling us in the article that not only is she not over it, it's still affecting her and the way she approaches her career to this day... maybe including an exhibitionist strain she may not be comfortable with, but feels unable to control.

Moss is almost 40 years old. She is wealthy. If she suffers from a psychological compulsion that makes her unable, despite her earnest attempts otherwise, to decline offers to disrobe for money, she is capable of finding and paying for a therapist.

Or if, as I think more likely, she is a seasoned professional happy to continue plying her lucrative trade, we can skip such a ludicrous attempt to insist on her victimhood.
posted by Egg Shen at 10:24 AM on November 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


Oh man. I was younger than Kate Moss when her famous ad campaigns came out. And oh god did I have the most complicated do-I-have-a-crush-on-her-or-do-I-want-to-be-her relationship with that image she presented (or was presented with). I was having some Gender Issues, as they say, at the time — I'd been raised male, but I was thinking hard about transitioning. If I had transitioned as a teenager, this would have been one of the icons guiding the process.

And now I look at these pictures — to be clear, at the idealized, fictional character being portrayed in these pictures; I had no idea then, and have no idea now, about Moss as a person — and wonder how on earth I could have envied that character.

It's the same way I felt about Angelina Jolie's character in Foxfire (or, later, about her and Wynona Rider's characters in Girl, Interrupted), or about Courtney Love's stage persona, or about the punk rock girls at my own high school who ended up homeless or addicted or pregnant or some combination of the above.

I mean, hell, it was an early 90s archetype. "Underage girl; sexually available by implication; clearly fucked up; too proud or tough or rebellious to get help." And what I find jaw-dropping about the whole thing is that it was — in my 14-year-old mind — a clearly heroic archetype. I didn't want to sleep with Kate Moss. I didn't want to look like her, or like the character she was portraying. I wanted to be that character.

The people I knew who fit that archetype were my idols and role models. They were just clearly the bravest, strongest, toughest, hottest, most interesting girls in the world, and I wanted to grow up to be just like them.

Now I look back on that archetype and see something very different. A fucked up, sexually active underage girl who's too proud to seek help is, among other things, a rapist's dream — an ideal victim who won't complain and won't be believed if she does. And hey, maybe she'll be too stoned or confused or grateful for any sort of attention to even say "no." That would be even better, right? Maybe this is just projection. But it's sure as shit how all those girls I idolized in high school were actually treated by the men in their lives. So when I look back and see figures like that being held up as heroes in the media, I do wonder — was I even the target audience? Was this just a rape fantasy (with a veneer of consent) for middle-aged men? Or, worse, was I the target audience — did someone actually hope young girls would take inspiration from it? Either way, when I look back at 14-year-old me, I'm amazed at how eager I was to become that perfect victim.

So, that's what I think of when I see a picture like this. Fourteen-year-old trans-girl me still says "I'd give anything to be like that." Thirty-year-old cis-male me says "Oh you poor thing; thank God you never got the chance." And then (with depressing, predictable gender stereotypy) thirty-year-old me wants to kill the motherfuckers who sold fourteen-year-old me that particular set of iconography. And I just don't know. I have no idea how much blame can be placed on the artists here, or the culture at large, for my own interaction with this imagery. Probably not much. All I know is, my interaction with it was somehow both crucial and inspiring and sickeningly disempowering all at once.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:26 AM on November 5, 2012 [71 favorites]


of course one is not supposed to complain or even comment

Just because we're part of a culture doesn't mean we cannot criticize it (some even believe being part of a culture is a necessary condition to be able to criticize it).

Fashion is incredibly fascinating, the amount of labor and capital that goes into a vogue cover or any of the many ads is mind boggling, it is a synthesis of expertise, creativity, appeal, etc. I'm sympathetic to the view that a detailed examination of fashion would reveal plenty of insights into global capitalism.
posted by Shit Parade at 10:28 AM on November 5, 2012


she is a seasoned professional happy to continue plying her lucrative trade

wow, nice sneering allusion to prostitution there, dude
posted by elizardbits at 10:31 AM on November 5, 2012 [22 favorites]


This is categorically and demonstrably untrue. She's THE most successful model of all time in terms of improving sales by a factor of like, 100. Hire Kate Moss, sell more stuff, guaranteed.

Certainly, you could write a pretty good book about Kate Moss in the popular imagination.

I think it's that a lot of female celebrities are both widely hated and popular/fascinating to the public, and someone who is widely hated may fascinate the very people who hate her*. And that this has a lot to do with how people think of women who seem as though they might have some sort of social power. As Cosine commented, Kate Moss was (maybe still is?) a model who people who didn't know much about models could recognize, and back in the nineties she was the victim of a lot of popular slagging. She was the proxy for a particularly stupid referendum on beauty standards - "I think women should have curves, not like Kate Moss!", that sort of thing, as if Kate Moss herself was responsible for the fashion system. I remember riot grrl collages that had images of Kate Moss in them.

And at least up until a couple of years ago, when I gave up reading a lot of the fashion press, there were several major fashion news & commentary outlets that really had it in for her, commenting on her looks and friends with a meanness and focus that they did not in general bring to bear on other famous women .


Consider Madonna, Lady Gaga, Hilary Clinton - those are women, though very popular in some circles, are disliked by people who know little about them and aren't really interested in the work they do - you can tell a Lady Gaga joke to someone who cares not at all for dance music. Beyonce, by contrast, is really popular but doesn't seem to have much of a crowd of haters. I'd argue that if woman has or is perceived to have power (literal political power, artistic power) and does not firmly harness that power onto family/heterosexual romance (as Beyonce has done, for instance - she's powerful but it's always in the context of monogamy, gender conformity, family) then she turns into one of these hated figures. Moss seemed beautiful enough in a novel enough way to be read as a threat and was always famous for partying and drugs (whether those stories were true or not).
posted by Frowner at 10:31 AM on November 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


Moss is almost 40 years old. She is wealthy. If she suffers from a psychological compulsion that makes her unable, despite her earnest attempts otherwise, to decline offers to disrobe for money, she is capable of finding and paying for a therapist.

Ergo it is all her fault.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:32 AM on November 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


she is capable of finding and paying for a therapist

So, sexual exploitation as a child resulting in psychological trauma is OK if it makes you rich? So, we should only consider the kids who were strong-armed by adults into taking off their clothes for the camera victims if their careers didn't take off?

I don't get the impression you're thinking this through.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:32 AM on November 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


I don't get the impression that Egg Shen suggested anything remotely like what you're saying he did.
posted by OmieWise at 10:34 AM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]



Also, back in the nineties most people I knew really loathed Kate Moss.


That says a lot more about most people you knew than it does about Kate Moss.
posted by ambient2 at 10:40 AM on November 5, 2012


I don't get the impression that Egg Shen suggested anything remotely like what you're saying he did.

Yeah, he actually did. Delegitamizing what she went through, especially in light of the predatory nature of the fashion and entertainment industry, and the way they chew through models, isn't cool. "Well, she's rich and so she must have got over it" - no, that's not an OK response.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:43 AM on November 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


On a less personal note: I find it frustrating that this is turning into a referendum on Moss's qualifications as a victim — not that I think she is Obviously 100% A Victim or Obviously Not A Victim, but that I think it is clearly so much more complicated than that.

Modeling has been bad for her in some ways and good for her in others. Her involvement in it, and the course of her career, is partly her responsibility and partly the responsibility of other people. Trying to cancel those out — to say "the negatives outweigh the positives, so we should ignore the positives," or "the positives outweigh the negatives, so she should stop talking about the negatives" — seems ludicrously one-dimensional.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:44 AM on November 5, 2012 [13 favorites]


Yeah, he actually did. Delegitamizing what she went through, especially in light of the predatory nature of the fashion and entertainment industry, and the way they chew through models, isn't cool.

Yeah, you know, I'm actually not great at controlling my anti-sexist GRAR in threads where it comes up, so I definitely understand the shitty comments that can pop up here. But I read the comment you're referring to, and I don't see that in it. I see him saying that if she was traumatized by her past experience, her ongoing participation in similar things now does not really make sense as a symptom of her trauma, since Kate Moss is pretty damn powerful at this point. That's a debatable point, to my mind, but not one that delegitamizes her experience on its face. And he certainly did not say that being traumatized as a child was "ok" because she got rich afterward, as you suggested.
posted by OmieWise at 10:55 AM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


How is it that teenagers can be prosecuted for sexting each other pictures, but it is fine and dandy for advertisers to blast the planet with half naked children? I'm indifferent to Ms Moss, or the tribulations of becoming a supermodel, but I find this dichotomy of selling children vs allowing children to explore sexuality to be baffling.
posted by dejah420 at 11:04 AM on November 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


The answer to that question, as to so many other apparent conflicts between modern society and modern commerce, is blatant hypocrisy.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:10 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sure, but what's the legal cover?
posted by jfuller at 11:11 AM on November 5, 2012


The legal cover? The bit of diaphanous fabric that covers their nipples!
posted by glhaynes at 11:14 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, I thought you meant philosophically.

I'm pretty sure the "sexting" arrests I've read about have all involved naked pictures, while anybody who's doing a professional photo shoot with an underage model is going to scrupulously avoid nudity even if they play up their subject's sexuality.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:14 AM on November 5, 2012


I'm pretty sure the "sexting" arrests I've read about have all involved naked pictures, while anybody who's doing a professional photo shoot with an underage model is going to scrupulously avoid nudity even if they play up their subject's sexuality.

The photos of her topless were taken when she was 16.
posted by rtha at 11:18 AM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


(Still: in what other context can you take pictures of an underage girl's breasts and not be subject to prosecution? It does seem like there's a weird legal inconsistency here, even in cases where there isn't full nudity.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:18 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


> The photos of her topless were taken when she was 16.

That's what I thought too. Why wasn't the photog busted?
posted by jfuller at 11:20 AM on November 5, 2012


Because its art. That sounds snarky and maybe it is a little, but it's also the real answer.
posted by Justinian at 11:26 AM on November 5, 2012


That isn't always enough. See: Jock Sturges.
posted by OmieWise at 11:33 AM on November 5, 2012


Interesting. I wondered if that was the case. It seems like such an odd throwback, though, to an old set of ideas about porn that I thought had been abandoned.

The way we used to talk about porn, the emphasis was on the idea that it was bad for the viewer, and so it made sense to have an exception for works of Redeeming Social Importance.

The way we talk about child porn now, the emphasis is on the idea that it's bad for the kids who are being photographed: it's bad for the same reason that statutory rape is bad. Under that rhetoric, talking about the artistic value of the result seems like a complete non-sequitur.

But I guess the law hasn't kept up with that change in thinking?
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:34 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Look at Blind Faith's album cover, that girl is 11 and you can still buy that in record stores. She was paid £40.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:37 AM on November 5, 2012


The photographs were legal to take in England, where the age of consent is 16. Sensibly, the Protection of Children Act (1978) was amended in 2003 to protect children up to the age of 18 from photography (except by a person they are in a relationship with).
posted by ambrosen at 11:38 AM on November 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


God that first link is a bunch of angry flame bait.

What you can flame bait I call justified anger.

it is a synthesis of expertise, creativity, appeal, etc

Etc == exploitation, abuse, and other minor shit like that which nobody should care about, apparently.
posted by kmz at 11:43 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I suppose it does represent progress of a kind.

Instead of sacrificing an innocent young woman to our gods, we sacrifice her innocence itself to our gods.
posted by jamjam at 11:59 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Moss in the 90s knew how to work the business, she knew how to play with the ambugity of a changing model in order to survive the context, and she knew how to ingratiate herself. The images are vital, because they reflect a difficult shift, where you are not sure who is quite selling who, and it was part of an ongoing project to figure out how to change the camera gaze--so it concentrates on Whalberg and so Moss is in a conspirarcy w. the viewer to recast the scopophllic gaze.

When I saw those images as an early adolescent, this conspiracy was much like nebulawindphone, though I never could access her power, I could look and not touch--and so it was v. much not like Fiona Apple or Courtney Love, who encouraged a boundary crossing that Moss was much better at policing.

This policing is what makes Moss an important figure--look at the Close nudes, which transcendent the 90s fiddling with identity and desire--they are works that are pretty indescribable and done in collaboration with a great artist---they are a diptych, bifurcated in the middle, and almost morbid, and ghostly--they are vulnerable, and have shades of the Victorian spirit photography, of scientific exploration, of both the slab and the studio. They are work that allow s for access that the 90s never did.
posted by PinkMoose at 12:20 PM on November 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


I was writing for The Face when that Corinne Day spread ran. I can still remember being so excited that I was invited to the Christmas Party, in the hope that I might actually get to meet her.

The fact that I never saw her there remains a source of profound disappointment to me.

But the portrayal of Corinne Day as some kind of machiavellian fashion svengali at that point seems ludicrous. At that time, The Face had no more than two or three full time editorial staff. The whole thing was done on a shoestring. It specialized in giving freelancers who were young, and fresh with something new to say a chance to break into the business. While I think Day had worked for them before at that point, she was a long way away from being Richard Avedon.

Day's career, like that of Kate Moss, blew up as a result of that piece of work for The Face. So while she was a bit older than Moss, she was still probably just one job away from not making the rent that month.

None of which is intended to defend the way that the fashion industry treats young people but there has to be some point at which people get to take responsibility for their decisions. At that time, sixteen year olds were felt to be able to give informed consent. They're still able to give informed consent to sex in the UK. And is there some magic line which makes your judgement, emotional maturity and reasoning skills robust enough at 18, when they aren't at 16?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:22 PM on November 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


Where WERE her parents?????

As an aside, I was young and in art school and a friend of mine and I met a real honest to goodness New York Artist on the beach down in Sarasota (He, his wife and family spent The Season down there like a lot of Northerners do) and my friend struck him as the perfect muse for some stuff he was working on. She was over 18 (but we weren't all that much older than that) and he talked her into taking off her top and posing. At least he let me hang out as a quasi-chaperone. His wife fed us lunch.)

My point being it is easy to be talked into something you aren't quite sure you are comfortable with. To do that to a crying 16 year old should be criminal.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:26 PM on November 5, 2012


>That's what I thought too. Why wasn't the photog busted?

Because current US law has zero relevance to the UK of 25 years ago? In many ways 16 year olds were treated as adults in the UK, and more so back then. I'm pretty sure you could get a drink in a pub at that age in the 80s, if you were there with someone older and you could leave school, get married etc.
posted by fshgrl at 12:28 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Where WERE her parents?????

Mired in mediocrity in Croydon, presumably.
posted by Egg Shen at 12:31 PM on November 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


And is there some magic line which makes your judgement, emotional maturity and reasoning skills robust enough at 18, when they aren't at 16?

As a decent human being, the line happens somewhere around where a girl starts crying because she's had to take off her clothes, in front of strangers, for the camera.

At that point, moral decisions are made by the adults around her. They were made poorly.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:32 PM on November 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


And is there some magic line which makes your judgement, emotional maturity and reasoning skills robust enough at 18, when they aren't at 16?

No, there isn't a magical line - maturity and the strength of character that it brings comes slowly over-time and at different times for different people.

That said, you do a hell of a lot of growing in your teenager years. 18 is more mature than 16, and there is more difference between 16 and 18 than there is between 18 and 20, or between 20 and 25 or between 25 and 35. I agree with the revision of the UK laws -- if you aren't mature enough to vote at 16, you certainly aren't mature enough to decide to pose nude for public photos.

Like I said above - 18 is a an arbitrary line, but it makes sense to draw it there because that is where a lot of other laws draw the line between "child" and "adult" (for voting, criminal prosecution, etc), and that age has been chosen because your maturing/growth begins to slow down about then. I wouldn't argue with 21, myself, for modelling - though some might say that if you're old enough to be a soldier, you should be old enough to drink model.
posted by jb at 12:34 PM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


(Still: in what other context can you take pictures of an underage girl's breasts and not be subject to prosecution? It does seem like there's a weird legal inconsistency here, even in cases where there isn't full nudity.)

There are all kinds of weird loopholes and legal definitions, mostly surrounding what is and is not considered porn. In much the same way that parents taking a picture of their new baby taking his first bath is not considered child pornography, I suspect that if the photos can be shown to be "artistic" rather than pornographic (by whatever legal definition(s) that may be applicable) the age of the model becomes moot (c.f. the Blind Faith album cover that Ad hominem references above).
posted by asnider at 12:39 PM on November 5, 2012


Egg Shen: Kate Moss does full-frontal nudity all the time - more than any other model of her rank. Including a Chuck Close portrait that presented the naughty bits at Chuck Close-scale.

However uncomfortable she might have been with nudity when starting out, she clearly got over it.
Point? If she was sexually abused while a child (and she was, IMO), does that preclude her from pursuing her adult desires? I hope you didn't mean it like that, but your post comes off as a bit of victim-blaming to me.

(reads further down the thread...)
Egg Shen: Moss is almost 40 years old. She is wealthy. If she suffers from a psychological compulsion that makes her unable, despite her earnest attempts otherwise, to decline offers to disrobe for money, she is capable of finding and paying for a therapist.

Or if, as I think more likely, she is a seasoned professional happy to continue plying her lucrative trade, we can skip such a ludicrous attempt to insist on her victimhood.
Ah, got it. You're OK with victim-blaming. Alrighty then.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:11 PM on November 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


There is something depressingly ironic about all of this. Kate Moss is exploited, but since we don't know the whole story we assumed she was not and that she enjoyed the experience [which apparently she does now]. In turn, she becomes a super model who influences not only the industry but other young models - who then are also exploited. And it goes on. At a certain point you have to ask if Kate Moss has been so used by the system that she now is the system and is now complicit in the very exploitation she hated early in her career.

I think our culture's love of fashion models is upsetting on many levels [screwed up trends in beauty, emaciated models, sexualized teens, etc]. It's a topic worth debating even though it's an issue that won't go away. However I do think anyone under the age of 18 should be completely off limits when it comes to the kind of 'fashion' photography Kate endured.
posted by Rashomon at 1:28 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've never been a massive fan of Moss. The emaciated, exploited waif look never resonated for me and it felt like so much of a step back from the 80s supermodel aesthetic of models like Linda Evangelista. I have no doubt that the 80s were also incredibly exploitative but Moss's early aesthetic just seemed about presenting a completely unrealistic model of feminine beauty that would only be attainable for a precious few and only for a vanishingly small period of time.

Moss has to be respected for her ability to survive in an industry that has absolutely no qualms in discarding it's talent if they gain 5 pounds. Unfortunately it seems like her lasting legacy has been a perpetuation of a system in which models are disposable parts that are exploited and eliminated when their commercial value is no longer worth exploiting. Yes there are still supermodels in the traditional sense but they seem like they are increasingly pushed to the lingerie/swimsuit market rather than than the high fashion market which seems perpetually dominated by models in the mold of Moss.
posted by vuron at 2:49 PM on November 5, 2012


When I look at the original Face shoot, I think Kate Moss and Corinne Day between them did something vey brave with it. They presented a beautiful image of a natural, unadorned young woman which is full of energy and personality, the very antithesis of the glamour model. This was very liberating at the time, because it gave young women (me included) the message that it was OK to be your scruffy, imperfect self, that there were ways to be attractive which didn't involve all the artifice that came before it. Let's not forget that Moss and Day went on to collaborate on numerous fashion shoots, and Moss herself has gone on to become one of the most important style icons of the era. These images may not be according to the Vagenda agenda, but they were produced by women, for women, and they show an alternative way of being.

I'm saddened to read that Kate Moss had such a traumatic start to her career, but nobody can doubt the agency she's had in shaping her own image, and it started right there, on that shoot. Whatever you may think of her, she does not present herself as a sex object in the tradition of the nude/glamour model, and for all her beauty and charisma, she has an enduring Everywoman quality which it's very easy to respond to. She's been a huge influence on the stylistic sensibilities of a generation of British women, all of whom will have internalized at least some of her ethos if they pay any attention whatsoever to these things, for better or for worse. Ugg boots? We have Kate to thank for those.

I think the Guardian article and the response from Vagenda really cancel each other out, and I can't decide which one irritates me more. It's interesting that the painting that inevitably gets name checked in both articles is the one that turns the whole tradition of the nude in art history on its head, but while both writers use this in the service of their own argument, neither of them seems to bothered to explain exactly what it stands for, or how images of women's bodies shape our image of ourselves. John Berger is particularly insightful on this subject.
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 4:35 PM on November 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


vuron: Moss has to be respected for her ability to survive in an industry that has absolutely no qualms in discarding it's talent if they gain 5 pounds.
No, she doesn't have to be respected. I don't respect Keith Richards for surviving years of drug abuse, either. How about Macaulay Culkin? Seen him lately?

These people deserve pity, but in no way should we be holding them up as brilliant survivors. They are the damaged results of the lives they've led. And, in Kate & Macaulay's cases, the abuse they suffered as children.
posted by IAmBroom at 5:47 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, back in the nineties most people I knew really loathed Kate Moss.

I was not really up on fashion then (any more than I am now), but even I picked up on the Kate Moss buzz in the 90s. What I remember is not that people hated her -- the opposite of that stands out, really -- but that her name got used a lot to stand in for eating disorders and unrealistically skinny models, despite her repeatedly denying any eating issues. Early photos of her look healthier to me than do many photos I see of current models, but I'm not really a good judge of that.
posted by Forktine at 7:36 PM on November 5, 2012


As an aside, the other (most?) interesting thing to me in that article was how she said she could never find anyone to take care of her, which she defines as someone she could trust to advise her. if you're the worlds biggest supermodel men are supposed to be lined up around the block waiting to take care of you, that's the deal right? But she couldn't find anyone who's judgement she trusted more than her own. I think the experience of realizing that the guys you date are as clueless as you are about life is a very modern one and I don't think I've ever heard a famous, powerful woman just up and say "yeah, I had a hard time finding someone my equal in life experience and/or who knew what I was going through".
posted by fshgrl at 8:22 PM on November 5, 2012


I had actually half-forgotten that Kate Moss and I are the same age. She's not even a month younger than me. I've never been terribly interested in models, but gods, I hated hearing everyone call her emaciated. It always came back to that word. Not skinny, not scrawny, not slight, not thin...emaciated.

It stung. It's an accusation. As a similarly skinny (though shorter and less beautiful) young woman, it fueled my suspicions that all the times I was compelled to explain that no, I'm not anorexic, yes I'm sure, I do eat, this is just what I look like -- it was all probably a waste of breath, I probably wasn't believed, what the hell, when do I get a say.
posted by desuetude at 8:37 PM on November 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


I think what I said above may have sounded a little dismissive and defeatist, so I'm going to mention that the FPP does contain some indication that things are improving. Why? Because models are getting organized.

From the Guardian article "Was Kate Moss exploited as a young model?", linked in the FPP:
"Nothing has really changed," says Victoria Keon-Cohen, a model and founding chair of Equity's Models' Committee, which now has around 800 members. "Until we started the union there wasn't any recognition of this kind of treatment in the industry. We wanted to help young models assert themselves and understand what rights they have. Unfortunately what Kate is talking about does still happen and has happened to me."
Also, "The Ugly Truth of Fashion Model Behavior" is an article I found linked to that one wherein model Sara Ziff describes about her efforts to regulate the industry and organize models.

The upside to there not being anything uniquely or innately pernicious about the fashion industry's exploitation of models is that there are two off-the-shelf solutions with a proven record of results: organizing workers and demanding the industry be regulated.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 11:30 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think it's that a lot of female celebrities are both widely hated and popular/fascinating to the public

Reading this thread, I keep being reminded of the way Brittany Spears was viewed while I was in high school/early college. I think the degree to which hostility to such figures is expressed depends on a) how "mainstream" they are perceived as being and b) how comfortable with and interested in mimicking that "mainstream" the person in question was

Basically, the folks who felt/identified as marginal or non-mainstream seemed those most likely to reflexively sneer at Moss or Spears or (for the more political types) Clinton or other female political figures as complicit or corrupt or soiled somehow. Given that such people are by definition in the minority of the population, it's not hard to reconcile remembering "everyone" as hating Kate Moss with the latter's incredible mainstream appeal and popularity. I remember "everyone" (i.e. everyone I knew personally) hating Brittany Spears. She still sold shitloads of records. You see a similar dynamic with, say, Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber today.

And being a victim doesn't preclude complicity in the system that exploits you. In fact, without that sort of complicity, the cement which holds the system together collapses. Otherwise the class of directly active exploiters is simply too narrow to stop change.
posted by AdamCSnider at 12:41 AM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


where the hell were her parents?

That's no cure all.

... Teri Shields said that people who accused her of exploiting her child were jealous. She also spoke bluntly about her daughter’s appeal.

“They see total innocence, which is totally there,” she said, as Brooke sat beside her. “And two, they have the sexy child too, they have the sexy person — that appeals to them.”

Mr. Boggs interrupted: “Yeah, it’s the forbidden fruit.”

Teri Shields responded, “Yes, and yet it’s all wrapped up in one, and that is really appetizing.”

posted by Egg Shen at 7:06 AM on November 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


gods, I hated hearing everyone call her emaciated.

Especially because she was never that skinny. I think the endless mainstream media focus on Moss as the spokesmodel for "too skinny" girls was harmful in the end, by maligning a body type that might be extremely rare but certainly seems healthy enough.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:31 AM on November 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Basically, the folks who felt/identified as marginal or non-mainstream seemed those most likely to reflexively sneer at Moss or Spears or (for the more political types) Clinton or other female political figures as complicit or corrupt or soiled somehow. Given that such people are by definition in the minority of the population, it's not hard to reconcile remembering "everyone" as hating Kate Moss with the latter's incredible mainstream appeal and popularity. I remember "everyone" (i.e. everyone I knew personally) hating Brittany Spears. She still sold shitloads of records. You see a similar dynamic with, say, Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber today.


See, I'm sort of going to disagree here, based on my experience among anarchists. I think the practice of sneering at female celebrities is basically about misogyny and it occurs in different ways in different groups. I say this for several reasons: I ran with a punk rock crowd that was full of misogyny when I was younger, and there was plenty of sneering at various women, mainstream and non-: Kate Moss, Courtney Love, etc. Also a lot of running down of mothers along the lines of "that is so boring and ugly and stupid, it's just like something someone's mom would like". I think even riot grrl (a movement which is described totally incorrectly today) dealt with a lot of internalized misogyny that was taken out as rather pointless critique of certain famous women. And this was paired with a lot of bad treatment of women - including me - within the scene.

On the other hand, the political/arts scene that I'm part of now is much, much less misogynist. It's not perfect, but norms have shifted so much that no one would ever disparage something by saying that it was something that "someone's mom would like". You'd get frozen out right quick if you said that, partly because of a lot of organizing and consciousness-raising by young moms within the scene a few years ago. And there simply isn't the trashing of women that I used to see. Both scenes have a lot of young people in them - it isn't that this crowd is "more mature". It's just that the underlying hatred of women, especially women with power, that drove us to trash on famous women in my other scene is missing from this one. If you started talking about Hilary Clinton or Lady Gaga or a fashion model or movie star and running her down, people would be confused. It would be so outside the norms that you would be viewed as really weird. And there it's not that we simply trash "movement celebrities" instead - the entire mood of the scene is different. People just don't feel the need to spew hatred about women.

I'm not saying that this is utopia - there are all kinds of other problems, and there's certainly still misogyny and sexual assault. But it's very different from where I was before.

I think that only people who are in the grips of misogyny feel the need to stake out a political position ("I prove my macho Republicanism by calling Hilary Clinton a bitch"; "I prove my punk rock credentials by calling Courtney Love a crazy, ugly slut") by using hatred of women.
posted by Frowner at 5:45 PM on November 6, 2012


Full piece now available online.
Vanity Fair - Naked Emotions: The Riddle of Kate Moss - (warning: top photo is semi-nude)
It's 6 pages long, but there is a single page link at the bottom of the first page that won't allow me to direct-link it.
posted by flex at 7:40 AM on November 21, 2012


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