Since I learned about The Illusionists film and had the good fortune to meet Elena Rossini when I moved to Paris last fall, I have become increasingly aware of the crisis in the media’s portrayal of women. Elena’s work on de-mystifying the beauty industry inspired me to do a performance art piece entitled Size Zero Kills at the Karl Lagerfeld Show during Paris Fashion Week in March. It was an extreme encounter with the rulers of the fashion industry that I detailed on my blog, Addicted to Strangers.
More recently, I wrote a commentary on the corruption of the modeling world and its preference for white and European-looking models. Read the blog below or as I originally posted it here.
A recent New York Times exposé on the subject of “model hunting” reveals that scouts target the rural Brazilian towns that were colonized by Europeans and pray that the current citizens will still look European enough. Modeling agents are searching for the ideal Brazilian girl who has a blend of German, Italian, and/or Russian in her DNA.
I look at Gisele Bündchen, the world’s highest paid supermodel, and I say to myself, “This girl’s got the whole package!” But apparently the tall, skinny, extra-long-legged type with great breasts, perfect European features, and fair skin, is far from native native to Brazil. Percentage-wise, darker-skinned women are more representative of the country as a whole.
But as long as the industry wants The Giseles of the world, model scouts will search for the next famous face in Rio Grande do Sul, a region of farmland where the colonizers were German and Italian. Something in the air must foster a potentially lucrative trait in the female youth, so that they grow up to look like the angels of the mass media’s dreams.