I was standing in line and noticed a girl in the line next to mine, who I thought was Kate King but couldn’t be sure without staring. Then the woman standing with her — I assume it was her mother — picked up a copy of a magazine and flipped it over to King’s Dolce & Gabbana fragrance ad. She tapped it and smiled, and the girl (who I now knew must be King) looked sort of sheepish.
We both got called up to cashiers at that moment, and after I checked out, I walked up to the two of them.
“Excuse me,” I said. “I’m sorry to bother you, but you’re Kate King right?”
She looked sort of taken aback, but said that she was. I told her that I was sorry to interrupt, but that I loved her Dolce & Gabbana ad (totally true) and that I thought she was gorgeous.
She seemed pleased that I had taken time out of my day to tell her that, but as I walked away I thought about what an odd thing it was to do. Unlike with, say, an actress or musician, it seems strange to say that you’re a fan of a model’s work. It’s sort of like saying that you’re a fan of their genetic makeup — after all, their work is based almost solely on looks.
But truth be told, models are quite possibly my favorite part of the fashion biz. I’ll buy a magazine because I like the model (not the actress!) on the cover, or tear out an ad to save because I like the campaign star. I think it’s because there’s still a little mystery surrounding models — despite the fact that this industry is built, quite literally, on their backs, very few models get the opportunity to tell their story.
Of course, thanks to social media, that’s starting to change. But for every Karlie Kloss who scores ad campaigns thanks to her social media following, or Josephine Skriver, who was tapped to represent the kids of LGBQT parents after sharing her own personal story, there are dozens of models who are still expected to be just pretty faces.
And then there’s the fact that models unfairly bear the brunt of the criticism surrounding the industry’s obsession with youth and weight. Despite the fact that these are young women, they are often told — in a public way that would be crushing for any woman — that they are too thin, that they suffer from eating disorders, that they look like aliens or insects.
Julia Nobis found herself the target of such harsh criticism just for appearing on the cover of T. Cenk Uygur, host of online program The Young Turks,spent one segment calling Nobis “disgusting” and “obviously anorexic,”among other choice insults. Nobis’s own father stepped in, chiding Uygur to “play the ball, not the man.”