Note | Nudity Just when we thought women couldn’t get any thinner in ads, Harvey Nichols launches Lingerie with Lycra Mesh. These images give us the opportunity to share a cogent Page Six Magazine article about the decline of Gemma Ward’s career. Ward’s agency IMG declined to comment on the story.
While Ward’s fame—for a brief period—was spectacular, her story is emblematic of the hundreds of pretty teenagers who come to New York City each year in search of a modeling career. Although the industry has recently embraced plus-size models (more on that later), the pressure to slip into size-zero samples is stronger than ever. In 2007, top model Natalia Vodianova said that when she weighed 115 pounds at 5’ 9” clients called her management to complain about her size. In 2008, model Coco Rocha said that when she weighed as little as 108 pounds at 5’ 10”, she was told, “You need to lose more weight,” and that she even took diuretics. “The look this year is anorexic,” Rocha recalled hearing. “We don’t want you to be anorexic, we just want you to look it,” they reasoned.
Descriptions of Gemma Ward as ‘an archangel from Neptune’, a ‘porcelain doll or ‘Siamese kitten’ rang true, when we posted Mario Sorrenti’s Vogue Italia September 2005 editorial of Ward.
In 2007 Forbes estimated that the model earned $3 million. And by all accounts, Gemma Ward did gain weight.
Clad in a denim bikini, Ward certainly looked softer. One headline snapped, “CHANEL SPRING ‘08 EMBRACES THE BIG GIRL,” while another article noted Ward’s “not so itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny Chanel bikini.”
The photo agent who worked with Ward wasn’t surprised by the industry reaction. “Every six months you get a new crop of girls. For every one with staying power, like a Kate Moss, there are 20 who don’t make it past 18. You gain weight, and you knock yourself out of the running. It’s an image-driven industry that doesn’t take kindly to the girl who bucks the trend. Clients start saying, ‘She’s fat now, don’t book her!’ If you want to be cynical about it, looking that way was her job. She doesn’t want to do what it takes, she’s not going to get work. That’s just the way it is.”
Why is the model pinching her breasts in the Harvey Nichols ad? We haven’t seen this before. Are breasts bad? We’re clueless as to the motivational ‘inspire’ factor in these ads. Are they meant to shock? Honestly, we don’t know what to make of them. Anne