We Know They’re Good Models, but Are They Good Role Models?

It seems to be every other girl’s dream to ‘make it’ in the extravagant, glamorous and wonderful world of fashion, whether that may be taking the catwalk in their stride and following in the footsteps of Kate Moss or becoming a master of the trade and designing their own collections. In order to achieve success, one naturally adopts a role model, someone to look up to, admire and to help remain focused and driven. But are the models in the fashion world perfect role models?

Despite gaining world acclamation and supermodel status, it can’t escape our attention that the likes of Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell have had run-ins with ‘bad boys’, drugs and the law. After falling in love with rocker Pete Doherty, it wasn’t long before the angelic teenage ‘waif ’in a Calvin Klein advert become known and recognised as a crack snorting ‘junkie’, a.k.a ‘Cocaine Kate’. However; this lapse and brief encounter with class A drugs didn’t hinder her unparalleled success in the modelling world and nor did it discourage young girls from continuing to see her as both heroine and a successful career woman. Moss’ brand of perfume continued to fly off the shelves and since then she has appeared in the pages of the world’s most prestigious magazines and has been offered more and more business opportunities and enterprises, the most recent being her own range of handbags exclusively for Longchamp. It seems that since hitting the headlines with negative publicity, Moss’ stardom and fame has rocketed to new heights.

Similarly, Naomi Campbell’s popularity did not plummet as expected after accounts surfaced in the media of violent behaviour and assaults. It seemed that Naomi was able to send the paparazzi into a frenzy as she made a bold new statement in an orange community service overall. Images of Campbell sweeping streets commanded just as much of a fee as an editorial shot. Do we turn a blind eye to violence, aggression and law-breaking when it’s a perfectly manicured Wah nail doing the punching? Do we disregard and overlook criminal activity and the misuse of drugs when it just so happens to be in relation to a talented and beautiful size zero icon? Is this because we like to believe in the fairytale world of glamour and are avoiding the reality that our heroes are merely flawed human beings like ourselves? Do we refuse to accept that drug taking, eating disorders and alcoholism in celebrity culture is distasteful and unpleasant despite taking place in Mayfair at a cocktail party?

As well as recreational drug taking and the ‘rock and roll’ lifestyle, we can forget how brutal and corrosive the fashion industry and celebrity status can be, even to the more reserved and private of personalities. The tragic suicide of the innovative, outstanding, refreshing designer, Alexander McQueen who fronted his own fashion label and whose clothes never ceased to surprise and inspire celebrities and the ‘everyday woman’ alike cannot be erased from the beautiful world of fashion. His suicide came a week after the death of his beloved mother, yet it is evident that the pressures of presenting a show at the renowned London Fashion Week also contributed to his depression and despair. We have all seen the stressed out and hassled Anne Hathaway character in ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ and we have all had bad days at work; but generally not to the extent that they provoke a level-headed person to take their own life. Is this what you let yourself into when entering the fashion world? Is it really such a harsh and unsympathetic industry? Should younger generations really be striving for an unhealthy, unfulfilled future or career that increasingly brings such misery?

It could be argued that the fashion industry does provide good role models who have established themselves as creditable entrepreneurs, designers, photographers and philanthropists. We cannot ignore the fact that some of our celebrity ‘heroines’ are using their earnings to do good, for example; Angelina Jolie and Oprah Winfrey who both feature as celebrities donating huge amounts to charity, the fresh faced childhood Harry Potter actress, Emma Watson is a regular on the fashion scene and since Storm Modelling Agency welcomed her into their company, she has been the face of British brand Burberry and ethical clothing range, People Tree. Emma is never pictured drunk, under the influence, raucous or rude and as a result her fashionable reputation remains in tact and respected; oh and did I forget to mention, she studies at an Ivy league status university in America while  the fiery haired cover girl Lily Cole graces the cobbled streets of Cambridge?

With this new breed of brainy beauties who are able to combine education with their love for clothes and modelling, the fashion industry becomes more appealing. We can often forget that in many sectors of the industry, a degree is required and a sensible and composed personality would be more likely to flourish in the literary side of things. Alexandra Shulman, Anna Wintour and Lorraine Candy did not become renowned editors without being focused, driven, ambitious, hard working and astute women. Are these the true role models of the fashion world?

Surely this proves that you don’t have to be making the tabloid headlines for the wrong reasons in order to make it in the fashion world? But it could be said that if Moss and Campbell hadn’t lived such daring, rebellious and wayward lives, would they still be in such high demand, continuing to captivate us? It is true that their age defying skin, ‘bounce back into shape with one glass of wheatgrass’ bodies, and years of experience still plays an important role in their success. But with upcoming new faces, such as model of the year Lara Stone, hot on their Louboutin clad heels they are still chosen to add glamour and prestige to the catwalks, and their appearances in Vogue are seemingly derigeur.

 Emma Willey

One Comment
  • Naomi
    5 April 2012 at 09:18
    Leave a Reply

    Amazing article Emma! x

  • Leave a Reply