By Lucy Shanahan
How many models do you know who don’t get out of bed for less than $10 000 a day? In 1990, Linda Evangelista told us that was what it took. ‘The Supermodel’ revolutionised fashion in the 1980s and early ‘90s. Evangelista, Naomi Campbell and Christy Turlington formed ‘The Trinity’, the golden trio that personified excess glamour. They weren’t just models, they were celebrities, and they were untouchable. Social media has changed the celebrity phenomenon since the 1990s. We’re always looking for that golden nugget, the one that stands out from the naff that floods our news feeds. Idolising models is a little more give and take than it used to be. We love their world for its magnetic allure, but we also expect to know about those candid moments behind the scenes. Social media is our window.
Sometimes, we really feel like these models could be our best friends. We get excited when we recognise their basic tee from General Pants, it’s sitting in our cupboard right now. We want to know everything; from who they hang out with, to what the view looks like from their hotel room, down to the brand of muesli they had for breakfast. We expect a kind of pseudo-interaction via Instagram. Social media has closed the gap between the worshiped celebrity and the inconsequential fan; we’re all on the same platform. As fan-girling practices have changed, so has the industry. For the first time, modelling agencies don’t just encourage an online presence, they demand it. We assume that models enjoy being on social media – who doesn’t love making their green smoothie even sexier with an x-pro filter? But what if they don’t want to share these details, the intimate insights that make up the fabric of their individuality?
In an industry that’s all image, surely models can at least protect their most private moments from the invasive eye of the lens. We inherited this surreal celebrity culture from the ‘90s, so that a model is not just a model anymore, she’s a star. When you’re famous on social media, you’re inviting strangers to comment on the seemingly insignificant choices you make everyday. For every piece of positive feedback, there’s always someone keen to criticise. And sometimes, those comments are just mean. Is it fair to ask models to invite fans (or more accurately, total randoms) into their private lives, when we wouldn’t ask anyone with a desk job to do the same?
Blogger-model-extraordinaries who have paved their careers through their insta-famous journeys have nudged models onto the same trajectory. Mimi Elashiry and Margaret Zhang are so successful because we see what they get up to on their days off. Their uni assignments or their dusty morning hangovers are a part of them, and we empathise. Taken a sentence out here We like the self-starter, the underdog, because chances are, we are them.
Larger than life images on an impeccably tailored Instagram account – polaroids at the ready, coffee from the hipster’s haven or yoga by sunset – make it easy to forget that model’s social media page isn’t quite realistic. Neither is anyone else’s, for that matter. We’ll upload a picture from an underground gig but conveniently leave out the next morning spent wallowing in a procrastination hole watching reruns of Sex and the City. Facebook allows us to edit the best parts of our lives, so what we reveal is a multi-media narrative of our best selves. Some choose to neglect their online life, others choose to capitalise, branding themselves as the girl next door who’s totally killing it.
For decades, the celebrity has been inherently tied up with the marketer. Three glamazons didn’t walk into a bar one day; ‘The Trinity’ was the product of some very clever publicists. Social media has put that power back into the hands of the person. Whether you choose to engage or not, the person you want to be online is up to you to create.