I finally read Ali Michael’s exclusive interview with Teen Vogue about her eating disorder. It was sad but hardly shocking. The shocking thing is the amount of venom that is being spewed at her within the industry for speaking up. I’ve been reading so many blogs and talking to my (very, very few) sources and there seems to be an understanding that if she had gotten healthy (as she was doing at the last round of shows) she could have continued to work fairly consistently for the next few years. She wouldn’t be the super star she had been set up to be earlier in her career but she’d be a working a model. Unfortunately by talking out she’s pretty much committed career suicide in the eyes of many in the industry. The things I’ve been reading and have overheard concerning Ali is insanely disheartening especially since so many of the most hateful things are coming from adults towards a child. But designers and casting agents aren’t going to change the aesthetic that they want to achieve anytime soon and certainly not because an 18 year old girl wants them to. And if that 18 year old girl is going to cause problems they won’t hire her. They’ll simply hire a girl who will meet that standard. And they will come in their thousands willing to hurt themselves for a chance at a real modeling contract.
I see both sides. I’m one of the first people to jump to defend the modeling and fashion industries. I love skinny models; I wish I could be one. But being healthy should always, always come before anything else. Beyond that, even at her “healthy” weight Ali is still a very thin, tall, beautiful girl. I can’t imagine the pain and humiliation that she must have felt at the (undeserved) “fat ankles” comment that probably happened at a casting in front of dozens of other models and agents. Some agents say they make a point of only signing or working with girls who are that tall and that thin naturally. I’m sure that this happens occasionally but please those girls are “working” on being that thin either in a healthy way or in an extreme way.
Honestly, fashion models are just glorified walking clothes hangers. As was pointed out in the original Wall Street Journal article that sparked Ali’s controversy: Clothes are no longer designed for women or for models. We’re now trying to design our bodies for the clothes.