Miranda Kerr is lying to us
Who's saying what
Through a series of expertly selected, and frankly hilarious, quotes, (“Because a rose can never be a sunflower, and a sunflower can never be a rose,” is receiving extremely wide dissemination), Kerr is made out to be, to put it bluntly, a simpering, vacuous moron. Perhaps the most telling line in the entire piece is "Even if her workout routine, diet, and husband, Orlando Bloom, weren’t the only things reporters ever asked about, Kerr shows a strong reluctance to utter any sentences not purely banal."
In crafting this story, the two writers took enormous risk. Victoria's Secret has an astonishing amount of money to spend on advertising each season, and the culture that surrounds celebrity access is pretty clear: pull your punches, or you won't enter the ring again. While the story is already proving a phenomenal success, it may yet result in serious negative consequences for the writers.
Huge hits alone cannot be motivation enough for such a move. That this article was written - particularly about Kerr, who is generally fawned upon - hints at something deeper than your typical 'dumb model' story.
Were Kerr really as simple as her quotes make her out to be, people would not have such complex feelings about her. Since the story broke, I have heard countless "hear hears!" of varying volumes from many in the fashion industry. Locally, Pages Digital ran an op-ed that ultimately concluded we maybe shouldn't care so much about Kerr, but to me this sentiment rings hollow.
You see, people do care about Kerr, rather a lot actually, but more interesting than that they care is how. I have had countless conversations about Miranda Kerr with family members and friends, both inside and outside the fashion industry, and opinion seems firmly divided along professional lines. If you do not have any professional contact with her - however tangentially - you probably quite like Miranda Kerr, if you have, there's a good chance you don't. This is called a perception gap, and more often than not, it works in the opposite way. Take Lara Bingle for example, while she cops considerable flack from the public, most people that know her, if only a little, have a bit of sympathy for the former wag. It is a similar case with Ruby Rose, who is hugely put upon by the gossip writers at Sydney Confidential, but is generally defended in other media circles.
Ask someone in fashion what Miranda Kerr seems like, however, and you'll hear their voice rise several octaves their head tilt manically from side-to-side in a grotesque imitation of hair flipping, and the words "I just like, really, you know, like doing yoga? In nature?" spill from their mouths. You'll hear worse things too, or, occasionally, from people that know and like her "she's not really like that in person." This is the huge problem with Kerr, that "strong reluctance to utter any sentences not purely banal". The model has built a brand around herself based on positivity and self-esteem, a brand that has many, many fans, but it is, like her quotes, completely empty.
When you reflect on her observations about the natural world, about being good to yourself, and using organic, you realise each of Kerr's suggestions is entirely focused artifice. It is all geared around the improvement of the vessel, not what lies within it. The idea that all women are beautiful stems from something that supersedes the physical, it is the idea that humans have a unique and thrilling capacity to create beauty outside of themselves through thought, art, and action. Physically, not all women are beautiful, never have been, never will be, and if they were, Kerr would not be afforded the position in which she currently resides.
Kerr's problem - the reason why much of the industry has come to quietly despise her - is that she builds her brand around these lofty ideals of positivity and self esteem, and then draws them all back in to the physical, a realm where she clearly has enormous advantage. It's easy to treasure your body when the simple act of being you, of eating, exercising properly and marrying a movie star can net you millions of dollars and an unbelievably enviable lifestyle, but the day-to-day reality for others (and even, no doubt, for Kerr herself), is far more complex.
Her seemingly blithe lack of awareness of this privileged position is infuriating. All women may be flowers, but not all flowers sell at the florist, and Kerr's particular brand of bloom is the kind that goes for a long-stemmed-red-rose-on-valentines-day price. But what is more annoying than this refusal to acknowledge her brand of luck ("Anyone can be like me! Buy Kora!" she seems to trill), is the fact that she probably knows better.
In my time in fashion media, I have encountered dozens of ditzy models and celebrities. They are the kind that stumble blindly through fame, say ridiculous things to the wrong journalists and, more often than not, end up spending all of their money. Miranda Kerr is not one of them. It is not possible to run a successful business, manage a property portfolio, carve out a clearly realised personal brand and also be a total fucking idiot at the same time. So why does Kerr say nothing but very silly things? My suspicion is that Kerr is a good enough business woman to know that she is a terrible actress.
She was born into a dreamy, hippy appearance that makes her a perfect poster child for a peace-and-love-organic ethos, but I have a hunch that the real Kerr, the Kerr beneath the giggling surface, doesn't quite match up with the brand she has built around herself, and as a result, she never gives anything beyond the shallow and saccharine. Were one to attempt to get deeper, the illusion might crumble.
Kerr has a similar perception to Isabel Lucas - who I once suffered a serious verbal beating for critiquing - but Lucas seems far more sincere in her dippy-hippy ways. She is actually just "like that". Kerr, on the other hand, has more going on underneath, and she won't let us see it.
This is not to say that the model does not have a right to a private life, but there is a difference between keeping the personal quiet and crafting an entire, elaborate Kerr-sona based around breast feeding pictures and trite little lines about flowers and snowflakes.
Even more problematic than its existence in the first place is the fact that Kerr's construct is damaging to women and girls. By looking and speaking the way she does (when she has other options in terms of presentation), Kerr is intrinsically linking sensuality with stupidity. She is demonstrating that being ditzy and appearance-obsessed (albeit under the guise of being healthy), is what it takes to be one of the most desirable women in the world. By refusing to express a well reasoned opinion on anything of note, and then pushing the point of self esteem, she is sending a message that the source of girl-power, of pride in one's womanhood, must always be grounded not in who you are, but how you look. Kerr has crafted an image that is the ultimate expression of the immanence de Beauvoir railed against, and she has done so (I suspect) knowingly.
Instead of being brave enough to show what a beautiful, clever girl looks like, to delve into the nuances of what it means to be a wife, woman, mother and object of desire, Kerr plays to our worst stereotypes of femininity, giving an organic-almond-milk 21st century update to the image of the perfect 50s housewife.
It is this deception, and retreat into lazy cliches, that I imagine motivated Odell and Yuan to write the piece they did. That those within radius of Kerr perceive this artifice is what is causing them to cheer for the article. While those cheers are soft for the moment, kept behind fashion's velvet curtain, I hope more such cries will become audible soon. I hope more people call Kerr an idiot, and I hope that in the process of proving them wrong, she reveals that she is something else entirely: a complex, human hypocrite.
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