Ali Michael | Bostonista: Ali Michael

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ali Michael



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.

5 comments:

kyley said...

This is a great post, Bostonista. This is really sad; it pretty much breaks my heart that people are so angry and cruel to someone--keen insight on the adult-to-child direction of that cruelty.

I don't have much to say on this just now, other than it's a shitty situation & thanks for shedding some light with such a well-rounded approach.

Label Ho said...

Great post and great points made! I'm like you; I can see both sides of the argument. But I think something certainly needs to stop when models are becoming sick or dying for the sake of their craft.

Angela said...

The fashion industry has always had an ideal--skeletal and white--and it's barely apologized for it and it's certainly not going to start now just because a model has disclosed her eating disorder in direct correlation to the pressures of modeling. I'm not even close to being a model but I know if I wanted to become one there are certain things I'd have to do and compromise. All I'm saying is models know going in how unbelievably harsh and heartless the fashion biz is and that you are essentially replaceable at the gain of an lb. Do I agree with how the system works? No, probably not, the feminist inside me is crying and eating many a s'more, but if you're going to work for the system you have to play by its rules. The first rule about fight club is you don't talk about fight club--same goes for modeling.

Bostonista said...

That is kind of how I feel too Angela. I was brainwashed and fell happily in love with a certain aesthetic the moment I bought my first Vogue at age 11. It was all done at that moment.

BUT I do think models should get periods. That should be the only weight requirement. "You get your flow? Ok. Go. Walk. Be beautiful."

jesse said...

gross. ew. this whole thing makes me ill.

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