Supermodels smiling for the camera is certainly nothing new, but seasoned supermodels giving cameras the nitty, gritty, barely discussed details of their industry is certainly something that is worth a watch. HBO’s About Face premiered last night, and we highly suggest jumping on the documentary’s hype. The film’s leading ladies include Christie Brinkley, Bethann Hardison, China Machado, Isabella Rossellini, Carol Alt, Kim Alexis, Beverly Johnson, Paulina Porizkova, Christy Turlington, Carmen Dell’Orefice, Jerry Hall, and Pat Cleveland, among other diverse women, discussing everything from aging to liberation to racism.
As women, we’re all too familiar with society’s pressures to look perfect 24/7. These supermodels feel society’s pressure about 100 times more than the rest of us who are solely photographed through Instagram. The women in About Face explain that insecurities and flaws are magnified in the camera lens, and the scrutiny they were subjected to didn’t end when the photographer put the camera down. Once signs of aging came about, most were shoved to the back of the figurative shelf, newly labeled as “former supermodel”, as the decision for cosmetic procedures to reduce the signs of aging were decided upon.
Aging isn’t the only hurdle the supermodels had to tackle. Racism and sexism were (and are) running rampant, and one account even described a photographer exposing himself to a model during a shoot as a “compliment”, rather a form of sexual harassment. Granted, this was years ago, but the fact that these women were taught to think in this kind of manner is still disturbing. Most disturbing, though, are the accounts of racism these women faced, not only being chosen for jobs much less frequently than their caucasian peers, but also being harassed because of their race. One account of a group of racists attempting to tip over an African-American model bus, for one, was particularly upsetting.
Our society may have made strides in diminishing these issues in the modeling world today, but they’re certainly far from abolished. When these women started, their parents wanted anything but their children to be models. Today, there are parents who force their daughters into TV shows like Toddlers & Tiaras, because we’re a society hungry for reality show stardom. It seems that while a whole series of issues is being worked on, an entirely new batch of problems has come about. We’re hoping that the underbelly of the industry being discussed by those women who were in the thick of it will shed light on important issues that need to be addressed in our society. An older age and being in a minority race should not mean anything negative when discussing beauty, though as of right now, social norms would beg to differ.
Watch the trailer for About Face below.