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Kate Moss article in the Guardian

(28 Posts)
Greythorne Thu 01-Nov-12 18:41:17

Kate Moss took one for the team

Has the Guardian gone mad publishing this drivel?

In the light of sexual abuse stories across the media, we are now told coercion to strip is 'taking one for the team'.

Words fail me.

ForkInTheForeheid Thu 01-Nov-12 19:07:56

FFS. I read that earlier but gave up half way through so hadn't seen that last sentence. What team is he referring to exactly? It is bizarre in the light of the tone of stories about vulnerable teenagers being exploited in the stories you're referring to. It's almost as though because she's so successful it doesn't count that she was treated abominably by people in a position of trust.

Whether or not she is upset about it now, it shouldn't be so glibly dismissed in the manner that guardian writer has done.

TeiTetua Thu 01-Nov-12 20:59:58

You have to look at the entire last paragraph, two sentences, to get the context.

"Ultimately, the shoot was a bad experience for Moss, but a turning point for fashion and art. Back in 1990, she took one for the team."

And if it needs more explanation, it comes higher up:
"...our fashion director Katie Grand was at pains to emphasise that a fashion shoot was a collaboration between model, photographer, stylist and all the other people who worked on it..."

So the team is all those other people who put the product together; the claim is that it's not just someone pointing a camera at a woman. And what's done for the "team" isn't just the pictures made that day, but a change (maybe) in the fashion world forever after. Of course there are people who really do concern themselves very greatly with this fashion and modelling and "art" business, and this article is basically addressed to them. Whether it's just a load of guff that everyone else should dismiss, I don't know.

Kate Moss may have hated that first experience, but let's not just say it's "exploitation" when we know she has big piles of money to console her. Would she want to go back to age 16 and just be ordinary?

PosieParker Thu 01-Nov-12 21:10:00

Tei... What?

She may not have been the next big thing, noone knew how the public would respond to her face. Fucking hell even though she's become an icon she's pretty damaged, snorted half her nose of with drugs and who could possibly say that the way her life was shaped for her at 16 wasn't the cause of her drug abuse.

The 'team' weren't doing it for her, the editor did it for themselves, as did the photographer, the stylist EVERYONE asked her to remove her clothes for their own gain.

ForkInTheForeheid Thu 01-Nov-12 21:12:53

TeiTua. Yes, KM is massively successful and has probably put this behind her. However, that doesn't mean that it was right and there are likely to be thousands of other girls who did similar (or worse) but never ended up anywhere with their careers. Turning point for art/fashion whatever, doesn't really matter, treating people like that's disgusting.

StewieGriffinsMom Thu 01-Nov-12 21:40:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TeiTetua Thu 01-Nov-12 21:43:22

Every time I hear about some star in show business talking about how they've suffered, I think yes, but you've been paid for it. That's the way the game's played, and you played voluntarily. I'm just sorry for the ones who won't be interviewed on TV, who suffered just as much and never got much for it.

Here's another unpleasant thought. How many young women aspire to being top models? Lots, right. How many of them could have all Kate Moss's experiences explained to them and would turn around and get working on their A-levels? Not many, I believe. Yes I am cynical. But that's all part of the game too.

Greythorne Thu 01-Nov-12 21:45:42

People are more important than art, Tei. Oh, except when they are young, impressionable, powerless women when their needs, self respect, dignity and sense of security can be sacrificed for 'art', 'the team' and money.

SabrinaMulhollandJjones Thu 01-Nov-12 21:45:55

I can't read to the end of the article. I like Kate Moss - but to hear her speak of 16 year olds being pressurised into taking their clothes off, or they won't be booked again makes me very sad

kim147 Thu 01-Nov-12 21:51:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

rosabud Fri 02-Nov-12 01:21:06

As well as excusing exploitation of a 16 year old, I'm also faintly surprised that the article is suggesting that the look which Kate Moss ushered in back then was very liberating and natural compared to the over-padded, lots of make-up look of the 80s. Apart from over-simplifying the looks of both decades in a couple of paragraphs, in the case of the Moss look, this is the same look that ushered in 20 years of girls trying to look like pre-pubescent boys, isn't it? The look with the skeletal frame and po-faced, botoxed, expressionless, non-wrinkled faces?

Comparing one fashion look to another (and, actually, one ridicuous fashion look to another ridiculous fashion look) as if it's some kind of intellectual truism just proves to me how far the whole fashion world is up its own bottom.

SinisterSal Fri 02-Nov-12 01:29:33

Wasn't all thzat called 'heroin chic'? Loads of emaciated teenagers wearing clunky clothes 'styled' as though were passes out in squats.
Cost nothing says empowered like a vulnerable teen in artfully ripped clothing

SolidGoldYESBROKEMYSPACEBAR Fri 02-Nov-12 01:39:44

The clearest indication that the writer of the piece is a total bellend is when s/he starts talking about how KM's success was due to her having a 'personality'. The whole point about 'Kate Moss the iconic model' as opposed to the girl whose name is Kate Moss is that the model was a total blank canvas on which anyone's ideas could be projected. She hardly ever gives interviews and I bet she wishes she hadn't given that one now.

Though the whole business of 'taking your clothes off' is kind of complicated. It's only a patriarchal social construction that being naked is shameful, or special, or that certain parts of the body need to be concealed most of the time. Some women find that being naked in front of others is liberating because it means rejecting the concepts of 'modesty' and 'decency' and regarding your own body as disgusting.

SinisterSal Fri 02-Nov-12 01:53:40

It's only because of a patriarchal society that means being naked (while young pretty and provably female) is something that people are willing to pay for. For example I find it liberating etc to say fuck you society my body is fine while scoffing Chocs in my PJ's on the couch. But no one thinks I'm a brave iconoclast for doing so, nor do they pay me etc.
Really the only dissenting voice against saying young pretty women should be naked and grateful we like it are women (some) ourselves, internally. Everyone else these days encourages it. Its the brave pretty young woman now who says no.
Probably a different dynamic when it comes to people not in the narrow beauty mould. It could well be fuck you, I can compete n this game. Whereas I think the game is shit and don't think enough of your opinion to bother with it. Generic you, btw!

SolidGoldYESBROKEMYSPACEBAR Fri 02-Nov-12 02:11:15

Sinister: but there are cultures where being naked (or letting anything more than your eyes and feet be visible) is not only 'shameful' but dangerous; being 'immodest' could get you beaten up or even killed. And for a woman who grew up with that sort of culture, running from it to one that encourages revealing clothing and nudity might well feel like liberation.

MMMarmite Fri 02-Nov-12 10:15:40

" Moss says that she felt self-conscious about the mole on her breast, but the fact that she showed it did us all a favour. Suddenly power-dressing, pointy bras and wearing two inches of slap were out, while wonky teeth, greasy hair and generally looking normal were in. "
This whole argument is so disingenuous. They're claiming that this photo achieved the feminist wish of getting rid of impossible beauty standards - firstly, I'm pretty sure it didn't, secondly, that aim could be achieved much better by nude photos of a comfortable, freely consenting older woman. And the author manages to snidely put down Moss's looks whilst claiming to compliment her.

StewieGriffinsMom Fri 02-Nov-12 13:31:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PosieParker Fri 02-Nov-12 13:37:24

Brilliant blog piece.

SinisterSal Fri 02-Nov-12 13:55:26

Sgb - that's not the culture we're talking here though

FastidiaBlueberry Fri 02-Nov-12 14:55:42

I find it incredible that the fashion industry could get anyone so shamelessly misogynist to write this piece. It is just so vile. And so frustrating - how can anyone not see the connection between the Jimmy Savile scandal and this coercion of a teenage wannabe model?

historydoc Fri 02-Nov-12 18:58:02

This article makes one wonder as to precisely the qualifications that led the Guardian’s editorial team to promote him to Arts Editor. Let us, for the moment, leave aside his suggestion that when a 16-year-old Kate Moss was blackmailed into doing a topless shoot she, “took one for the team” and focus instead on his argument that “without nude models, art history as we know it wouldn't exist”. Perhaps he has missed the fact that this history is a contested one in terms of what it means. In the view of many critics, it is a history of the objectification of the female body for the prurient enjoyment of the male viewer; according to these critics the gaze of the artist––perfectly exemplified by Manet’s 1863 Le déjeuner sur l'herbe (a picture Needham references in the article in order to give his celebration of the visual exploitation of a teenage girl’s sexual vulnerability the semblance of artistic merit)––is the Male Gaze.

Moreover, if these pictures are to be celebrated, as Needham suggests, for having “redefined the prevailing ideals of beauty” then they are also deeply implicated in the creation of damaging beauty myths that celebrated heroin chic and idolised the almost pre-pubescent form of a 16-year old Kate Moss; at least the woman in Manet’s painting is clearly an adult.

But back to “taking one for the team,” a phrase that denotes someone willingly choosing to do something they would rather avoid in order to gain some anticipated advantage for their fellows, often deployed in the sexual badinage of a lad’s night out. Needham acknowledges that Moss was “coerced” and “blackmailed” into the shoot; hence the question of a willing choice is irrelevant. In terms of advantage gained for others, in Needham’s view these are new standards of beauty; one need only compare the diminishing bodyweights of supermodels from the 1980s through the 1990s and into the 2000s to see that these new standards were no better than the old, and perhaps worse if we consider the increasing rates of eating disorders and cosmetic surgeries as a measure of beauty’s impact on female bodies and psyches. As to the idea that this so-called advantage – the ushering in of heroin chic beauty myths – was in any way anticipated by the victim in all this, that is beyond laughable. In an instant, therefore, this phrase trivialises not only the sexualised exploitation suffered by Kate Moss and many other young female models forced to disrobe for the camera (see Emine Saner’s Guardian Blog piece Was Kate Moss exploited as a young model? for a discussion of these issues), but also the larger question of the ways in which teenage female sexual vulnerability is used as a means to sell product.

Needham’s article is also a sign of the times. Like much that has been said and written in the post-Savile era, what he finds unpalatable is also reassuringly in the past. Sure, magazine editors, and photographers might have dealt inappropriately with teenage bodies in the 1990s, but that's just what it was like back then; we have clearly moved on, so lets not dwell upon the mistakes of the past when they produced such great art. What rubbish! Such relativistic standards did not excuse Savile; nor do they excuse Corinne Day (the photographer who ordered Moss to strip or else lose the gig). As to the idea Day’s gender somehow made her behaviour less problematic (which Needham implies though never states outright), or that it is only coercion when the blackmail is explicit, he clearly needs to think through the ways in which the reification of the male gaze results in models, from fashion to porn, being forced into acts and out of clothes in ways that deny their common humanity and reduce them to the objects of male fantasies. That such exploitation is somehow diminished because Needham believes that fantasies about “wonky and fallible” pre-pubescent female bodies are somehow better than those fixated on “some passive fantasy glamourpuss” perhaps says more about Needham’s predilections than anything else.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 02-Nov-12 19:48:28

Kim, I believe that is how it was viewed, yes sad

PosieParker Fri 02-Nov-12 19:51:10

Blinding post historydoc.

I've recently come back to MN and am always blown away by the Feminist section, filled with such insightful and brilliant women.

FastidiaBlueberry Sat 03-Nov-12 10:09:44

Various people have been telling Alex Needham on Twitter, that he's got it wrong and why and his response is to block them.

I think that tells us quite a lot about him.

LRDtheFeministDragon Sat 03-Nov-12 15:02:52

It does. fastidia.

I think good on her for speaking out - as someone said, she rarely gives interviews, and I doubt anyone who doesn't know her could have much sense of her as a person, so IMO it is very impressive she spoke out about this.

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