The fashion industry undoubtedly affects women’s understanding of themselves and other women. The causes were significantly illustrated through the supermodel, Gia, and her interactions with those around her, particularly her agent and her mother. Our definition of beauty, as a society, is one that can always be made better and continuously changing, and this ideal is displayed constantly throughout the movie “Gia.”
Although she became a legend, Gia initially knew that she was an outcast in the modeling industry because she did not fit what she thought people found to be beauty, just as many women find themselves to be outcasts in society because they do not feel as though they fit the mold for what beauty should be. Gia’s attitude towards herself corresponds to the way women in society view themselves; she believed that “a woman is not a woman unless she is a blonde.” She also began to understand her role, proclaiming, “I’m a model. I’m not supposed to talk. I’m supposed to look beautiful.” These same feelings prevail in women who are not models and do not depend on their looks for a career, illustrating how the fashion industry affects women’s understanding of themselves. Because the models are the women who the public admires and lusts for, women in society feel as though they should be beautiful looking above all else. “Media images of women are always directed at men, and women are encouraged to look at themselves and other women the way men do.” (Crane, 314) Just as Gia realized, “It is not about you”, but rather it is about what you look like to others.
Gia was represented by her agent, Wilhelmina Cooper, and they developed a strong friendship as their career began. However, when they first met, Wilhelmina based her judgments on Gia’s appearance and only cared about her image, just as when she went on all her auditions and go-sees. What Gia thought or had to say did not interest the modeling industry and her agent told her “What comes out of your mouth is totally irrelevant.” One lady in need of a model even referred to Gia as meat and did not have any interest in anything other than the way Gia looked. Gia’s interactions with modeling agents and people in need of a model shared the same theme that they only cared about what she looked like, whether she was beautiful, and if she had the same ‘image’ they were looking for. The modeling industry makes women feel as though their body and beauty is all they are judged by and that everyone’s first impression of you is based on your appearance. “A researcher found that the more frequently girls read magazines, the more likely they were to diet and to feel that magazines influence their ideal body shape.” (Kilbourne, 260) You never see a great personality being advertised about a model on a front cover of a magazine. It is all about the ‘image’ in our society and it causes women to feel as though they need to meet certain requirements of beauty or else they cannot succeed in life.
Gia’s desire to be beautiful developed through her perfectionist qualities engrained in her from her mother. The movie begins with the two gazing in the mirror admiring how pretty they are and ends with her mother wanting Gia to look beautiful when she died so that people remember how pretty she was. Because the fashion industry is so demanding, Gia’s mother also encourages her to lose weight, stand up straight, have smooth skin, and look good. Gia was also told not to work at a clothing store because it was not attractive. The pressures of meeting standards set by the modeling industry and family members and friends are very challenging for many young women and it is caused by a desire to be perfect. Beauty and the perfect image are set by the models in the fashion industry and then women in our society desperately aspire to look the same way. These ideas cause women to believe that other women are better than them and that they are inferior to those who fit the image of beauty.
“Rather than the clothes, the focus of attention in fashion magazines for most women is the model.” (Crane, 325) The fashion industry creates dream bodies and unattainable beauty for many women in society and causes them to have an entirely different understanding of themselves and other women because they are always comparing themselves to someone else or an image in a magazine.
Crane, Diana. "Gender and hegemony in fashion magazines." Gender, Race, and Class in Media (1999): 314-332.
Kilbourne, Jean. “The more you subtract, the more you add.” Gender, Race, and Class in Media (1999): 258-267.