Kendall Jenner (Getty)
Reportedly, Kendall Jenner cried out about being bullied by other models during New York Fashion Week. Bullying in the world of modeling is not a new crisis. You may remember the pinnacle of a model bullying headlines when Naomi Campbell who allegedly has anger management issues was charged with second degree assault for throwing a cell phone at her “helper” during a disagreement. Earlier this year Naomi was again ridiculed for “bullying” Nicole Trunfio on the set of The Face Australia. In my opinion, I would hardly call the scene in question, “bullying” but I will admit, I have an immense admiration for Naomi Campbell so my opinion is extremely biased.
In response to Kendall Jenner’s comments about being bullied by other models, the online publication, theblot.com published an open letter to Kendall expressing the compounding issues of the dichotomy of the modeling industry: nepotism and “the struggle”. Ms. Arisce Wanzer made several valid points regarding Kendall’s rise to runway fame. I do believe that Kendall is a good model and based on aesthetic ability, belongs on the runway. However, everything comes at a cost and sacrifice. The Kardashians made it any way they could. They brought everyone they could along with them — family first. I don’t particularly find anything wrong with that. We would all do the same for our family and those closest to us if we had the same vehicle. How the Kardashians did it, is irrelevant. I would like to reference you to an incredible, yet short read, “The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing“, which features what I found to be a rather important chapter on ‘how some notably successful people got their start’. Some of which include marrying the money, divorcing the money, sleeping with the money and so you get the picture.
My point to Ms. Arisce Wanzer is that unless we are willing to trump the Kardashians in their choices and vehicles they have utilized, then we should focus on the bigger issues within the modeling industry itself; the fact that models unlike Kendall are working under such conditions in the first place. That is what should be unacceptable.
Putting aside Naomi, Kendall and the other entire runway stars with attitudes, I want to dissect the real issue regarding models bullying models. We are all in the same boat playing against each other in a manufactured ‘winner take all’ game. The game is rigged, sisters. Most models loose even when they (and everyone else) think they are winning. Foreign models come into the game at an extreme disadvantage with the economic cards stacked against them — green card, agency debt, poor living conditions, loans, language barriers and so forth. American models are stacked against each other on race, ethnicity, socioeconomic divides to barriers of entry into the modeling market. You don’t see the same problems in male dominated sports like baseball and boxing for example but the traditional spectrum of the modeling industry is an extremely shady system. So, yes, one should expect that is going to create some hostility among models, American and foreign that results in the bullying of someone whom has an advantage.
Not to sound all kumbaya, we got to work together to find a better system. As the “labor force” of the modeling industry (to give it the proper respect it deserves, I do refer to “modeling” as its own industry outside of fashion), if there are no models willing to work under these conditions, the conditions will change but it starts with us working collectively together and not against each other. However, this is a difficult message to explain to a scared, underage foreign model who has left her family, doesn’t speak English, living under someone else’s control and is buried in debt overnight. There is no power left in a girl or woman under those circumstances. No matter how beautiful.