Ageing not allowed, says Heat
Abby OReilly // 14 June 2008
Heat magazine can be downright irritating, but for some reason I still read it (if only to grissle about it afterwards). I do, of course, take the majority of the articles with a pinch of proverbial salt, otherwise I’d be up all night every night thinking about how to achieve that size 0 figure and having panic attacks over a potential vpl (visible panty line).
But I found an article in this week’s issue particularly irritating. Some cheeky young scamp scrambling around for a story at Heat towers thought it would be a good idea to take five supermodels, women considered among the most beautiful in the world, and discuss how they are (drum roll, please) “Supermodels Losing Their Looks.”
The list of models, their ages and alleged aesthetic offences are, in no particular order, as follows:
1. Eva Herzigova, 35: “Lost her boobs” and “now looks a shadow of her former self.”
2. Helena Christensen, 39: “Looking gaunt” and “tired-looking is the face of the less-glamorous Ariel washing powder.”
3. Naomi Campbell, 38: “Hairline receding” and “her famous mane is looking thinner than ever.”
4. Linda Evangelista, 43: “Plumped up” and “has now scaled down her modelling work to focus on motherhood.”
5. Kate Moss, 34: “Worn and haggard” and “she’s recently been dropped by Agent Provocateur in favour of a younger model.”
The photographic evidence is poor, and being more than ten years younger than the youngest of these “old” supermodels I would be more than happy to wake up in the morning in ten, twenty years time to see their faces smiling back at me. They are still very attractive women, who must be in possession of shrewd business sense to a certain extent to have been able to have had such lucrative careers in an industry that is littered by pretty faces and girls and young women who believe they are “the next big thing.” Yet, they are berated for their appearance in the most base and superficial manner, and while I understand that these are women whose looks have been a saleable commodity, I do wonder if Heat is just for needlessly filling a two-page spread with this downright boring feature. So what if Christensen is looking “tired?” She has a small child and is probably still doing more shoots than I’ve had hot dinners, so I think that, as a being made of flesh and bone, she is entitled to let her exhaustion become physically apparent during her personal time, if that’s ok.
The “report” also espouses a derogatory attitude towards motherhood, with the implication that Evangelista has plumped up (and thus lost the beautiful looks that made her a household name in the first place) a result of her decision to swap the limelight in favour of looking after her small child. The implication is that it’s impossible to be attractive and a mother, and you can almost hear the collective sigh from the editorial staff emanating from the line “to focus of motherhood” as if it was not a legitimate reason to give up a career, but a weak excuse for those who can’t cut it.
So what’s the general consensus? I suppose there’re two ways to interpret this: firstly, by showing that women in the limelight, women who have made careers for themselves out of the way they look, are also susceptible to physical changes emanating from lifestyle choices and ageing does perhaps demonstrate that we are not “imperfect” or “unattractive” for not being able to imitate the flawless perfection promoted on bill boards by models. It also, to an extent, highlights the air-brushed fantasy that is corporate advertising. Or, rather, by suggesting that these women are in some way “flawed,” something that the vast majority of us will be unable to recognise from the “proof” presented, does this instead foster a sense of “inferiority” in those of us who are not what would be considered traditionally beautiful, and are just ordinary women getting on with our everyday lives? Personally, I am more inclined towards believing the latter, and I do wonder what sort of thought processes result in utter rubbish like this being published in the first place. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?