We’ve made Linda Evangelista feel worthless because she is no longer perfect

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
 (Daniel Hambury)
(Daniel Hambury)

Time was, back in the Nineties, you couldn’t open Vogue without seeing Linda Evangelista, the beautiful Canadian who summed up the entire phenomenon known as the supermodel (before that, we just had “models”). It was she, along with Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford and Claudia Schiffer, whom Gianni Versace assembled for his Freedom ’99 runway show, which identified this whole new breed. It was she who summed up the spirit of the supermodel by declaring that “we don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day”. And it is she, at 56, who now demonstrates the bleak flipside of having been one of the most beautiful women in the world.

She’s been off the radar for five years and it turns out that it’s because she’s ashamed of her looks. In a post on Instagram yesterday, she accused the makers of a cosmetic procedure, Cool Sculpt, of leaving her “permanently deformed” and she’s now suing the company, Zeltiq.

“Today,” she wrote, “I took a big step towards righting a wrong that I have suffered and have kept to myself for over five years. To my followers who have wondered why I have not been working while my peers’ careers have been thriving, the reason is that I was brutally disfigured by [the procedure] which did the opposite of what it promised …. I have been left, as the media has described, ‘unrecognisable’.”

The pictures of her now are shocking, but not quite for the reason she gives. Her hair is scraped back and she’s not wearing makeup. And certainly her face is fatter. She looks older, obviously. What’s wrong, though, isn’t the jawline. It’s that the lights have gone out. Her expression is glum; she’s not smiling. She’s looking fearfully out at a world that she once graced. That’s what’s wrong.

Unlike models of a later generation — the grunge lot come to mind — the supermodels, pre-eminently the Big Five, were women who felt good about themselves. They smiled, they looked healthy, they were often effervescent; the lights were on. And that’s what drew us to them: they were beautiful and they knew it and they were upbeat and confident. You could call them empowered. The others still are: Naomi Campbell can effortlessly light up any catwalk because she’s the one woman on it who looks amused, and absolutely sure of herself (It helps that she looks pretty well miraculously as she did). And it’s that vivacity that’s gone from Evangelista. She has bought into the notion that what made her valuable was her stupid chiselled jaw, not the whole woman.

You want to shake her and send her off to get her hair done and put some lipstick on. More to the point, you want to tell her that beauty comes from within as well as without. She doesn’t have to hibernate; she isn’t ugly or even plain. Because in her gloomy self-loathing she’s conveying that, as far as she’s concerned, she’s only worthwhile insofar as she resembles her younger self. That’s what modelling does to you; it reduces you to your externals, because your bankable assets are your face and body. And Evangelista’s face and body were quite lovely — those slanting eyes, the flawless complexion. But even modelling isn’t that superficial; the face and body aren’t enough without the intangible attributes of grace, liveliness and even charm.

Right now, Evangelista is an object lesson to young girls of the perils of a superficial visual culture. It would be nice to think that we’re over that. The current batch of models is very diverse, not just in ethnicity. But we’d be kidding ourselves. Because the culture has never set more of a premium on the visual. The sway of Instagram means that teenage girls are more obsessed with a perfect image than ever, because it’s reflected back to them all the time on social media.

Teenagers are image-obsessed to the point where they’re trying to resemble the doctored versions of themselves. I spoke to one aesthetician recently who told me that girls are presenting her with their Instagram photos and asking her to make their real selves like that.

Evangelista is still beautiful, but she’s a beauty with a puffy jawline. That shouldn’t make her go into hiding. Have we not come further than this, that a woman like her feels worthless because she’s not perfect? Previous generations told their daughters that beauty is only skin deep. Plainly, we still need to say it.

Read More

Linda Evangelista: Fat reduction procedure left me permanently deformed

GB News has not failed: it has shifted the dial

The risk at conference is you only have a conversation with the party

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting