Today we have a model image.
What does a model look like?
Did you know that most models don’t look like models? Yes, they have certain base features that most models have; a certain figure proportion, a certain bone structure. But models don’t look like models. They look like young women, and in most cases, average looking young women. Models start looking like models when they prepare for a shoot. The makeup artist, the hair stylist, the art director, the photographer, the photographer’s assistant, the editorial assistant, the advertising agency rep, the advertiser’s rep all play a part in creating the image you see in a magazine. The model is in the mix, contributing, but it is not her you end up seeing. It’s a photograph, an image, that you see.
I should know this since I am a photographer but I always forget and have to be reminded. That is because I have also been a fan and follower of a number of models and photographers for decades. I get seduced into the beautiful image just like anyone else.
In college I had my first major model crush. It was the model, Lisa Taylor. She was a well known model in the 70s and 80s. She was a favorite model for the fashion photographer Helmut Newton, whose work I loved. She also happened to be in one of the all time iconic images from the 70s.
I had a copy of this Harper’s Bazaar magazine with Ms. Taylor on the cover hidden under my mattress in college.
I had it hidden not because it was pornographic obviously but because it would have been even MORE embarrassing for my roommates to find it than if I had had a Playboy or other men’s magazine. This was because I had a major crush on a girl at school who I thought looked just like Taylor. I thought they would know right away if they saw the magazine cover. One day us guys, hard to believe I know, were actually cleaning our rooms and we all decided to flip our mattresses over as we had been taught growing up. Well, you can guess what happened. They saw the magazine and had a really really big laugh at my expense. I turned bright red from embarrassment as you can imagine. Just as I thought, they immediately saw the resemblance between the model on the cover and the girl I had a crush on. They didn’t threaten to expose me because they said everyone already knew I had a crush on her. Oops. So much for that secret.
The truth is the real woman I had a crush on wasn’t perfect like the photograph of Lisa. She didn’t think she was beautiful (and still doesn’t). She had issues with her father, she easily felt guilty about many things. But she was also energetic, enthusiastic, funny and principled. And it turns out she had a bit of a crush on me. We always stayed platonic (well ok, we had one brief kiss) but we had a very emotional time of it during that year. She ended up marrying a great guy (who she was dating during our crush). We are still connected and good friends. She is still herself, positive and negative. But she is wiser, happier and more real inside and out than she ever was way back when.
In 2009 Timothy Greenfield-Sanders did a project for Vogue Magazine. He took photographs of former models from the 70s and 80s. This photograph of Taylor was included in the project and the resulting exhibition in 2011.
I love taking photographs and I love visual images, but seeing this photo and thinking about my ‘crush’ reminds me once again that whether it is age, style, Photoshop or something else, the image is not the model. The model is a living, breathing person, better and more real than any image.
Drawing and story by Marty Coleman, who is beet red right now.
Quote by Cheri Erdman