Essay on Fashion Modeling. the Unrealistic Expectations from Real Women
In the real world, the modeling industry is notorious for only hiring certain women and having a very set in stone standard of beauty. There are constantly stories on the internet being shared about models starving themselves to please their agencies, or magazine spreads being called out for photoshopping their model's features. In Tara Bett’s “Runway Blackout”, the modeling industry seems to have found the perfect solution for their issue of imperfection, via the therianthropes. Therianthropes have the ability to shapeshift; therefore, the modeling agencies use the therianthropes skills to their advantage by making them shapeshift into their idea of perfection. Voile, a famous therianthrope, stages a protest in hopes of widening the industry’s eyes to other forms of beauty. Unfortunately, the industry has immense influence over women who feel insecure due to the unrealistic beauty of the therianthropes, and the industry does not plan on giving up this power that they have obtained. The modeling industry in “Runway Blackout” has a fixed mindset when it comes to beauty and, despite Voile’s best efforts, the industry continues to idolize their idea of beauty because they are scared of the possible loss of power that change will bring upon them.
The industry has been hiring women who all look extremely similar for years, so when Voile protests their lack of diversity, the industry pretends nothing happened because they are so worried about how the general public will react to the change. Agencies are only interested in their stereotypical beautiful women and have no plans on changing their beliefs, as shown through their actions following Voile’s protest. The modeling agencies believed all of their problems were solved once they started to hire the therianthropes because they no longer had to worry about their regular models facing problems such as weight gain, “skin discoloration, or scars” (Page 167). Imperfections are unacceptable in the modeling world and, through the therianthropes, the agencies are able to ensure that the models they shoot are perfect and superior to the average women. This superiority gives immense power to the modeling industry because it influences regular women to make themselves look more like the models they see in the magazines. Voile had hoped that the blackout would show the industry that black models are just as beautiful as the models they desired, only to find out that agencies could not accept her vision. The agencies were unwilling to change their fixed mindset; therefore, “contracts were not renewed for therianthropes” (Page 173). The agencies realized it was too risky to keep on hiring the therianthropes, in fear that they might pull another stunt like the blackout, because the agencies thought that using models that were not their idea of perfect took away from their superiority and power.
Not only are the agencies not able to accept the change, but they also try to cover up the entire ordeal because they are afraid of facing the real world, and the real people in it. Pretending it did not happen and moving on is a lot easier for the agencies than explaining themselves to the press. Therefore, the agencies avoid explaining to all of the women in the world, via the press, why the essentially do not view regular looking women as beautiful. Even though few people actually looked like the industries idea of beautiful due to frequent interracial marriage and lots of new genes, the agencies “were still requesting and using therianthropes as blonde, blue-eyed models” (page 169). The modeling industry is only interested in working with a certain breed of women and are scared to evolve with the times because of the possible consequences, such as a loss of power due to modern society rejecting this new standard of beauty. Voile fervently waited for the agencies to reach out to her after the blackout, as she thought she had made an enormous impact on them, however, the blackout had not affected the agencies in the way that she had hoped. Instead of a buzzing office full of agents dying to hire new diverse models and writing up new contracts for the therianthropes, she was shocked to learn her agency's “office [was] completely vacant” and that “most of the other agencies shut down too and reconstituted themselves in an attempt to avoid arguments with the press and clients” (Page 173). The modeling agencies, as well as the industry they make up, are not willing to transform their idea of beauty because they do not want to face the repercussions the press bring and the agencies would rather start anew than be different.
Perfection holds power in the sense that people are constantly striving to achieve it. The modeling industry thrives on setting unrealistic expectations that influence average women to believe that they have to change themselves to fit these expectations. If the regular women who looked up to the models began to see that not at models have to be so cookie cutter perfect, then the modeling industry would lose its power. Voile attempts to show the industry that beautiful women come in more than one shape and color. However, the industry ignores Voile’s protest and act as if nothing ever happened because they are scared of how the public’s reaction would affect the power that the industry has had over so many women for years. The modeling industry in “Runway Blackout” is no different than the modeling industry in the real world, in that they idolize a certain type of women. This idea of a “perfect woman” is toxic to other women’s confidence, which is what gives the modeling industry so much power over these women. With perfection comes power and influence, and the modeling industry, both in the real world and in “Runway Blackout”, struggle with accepting change because they are not ready to face the possibility of losing their power.