In a recent interview with Tom Brady, designer and director Tom Ford made some interesting age-related comments about the football player’s wife, the absurdly gorgeous supermodel Gisele Bündchen.
The Internet has had it out for Ford since the interview came out in VMAN, calling for his head on a pike because he dared to talk openly about the fact that Gisele will someday age--and further, that it's unfortunate that the fashion industry will consider her less important and beautiful when she does show visible signs of aging.
I know. That bastard.
But wait--it’s true, isn’t it? Ford never said that Gisele will stop being beautiful, or that she’ll lose value as a human being when she ages, but rather that the international fashion industry will celebrate her less as she gets older. In fact, he was lamenting that fact.
He did not, as Kelsey Miller of Refinery 29 suggested, say that Gisele, “at the age of 32, is about to slip into old hag-itude.”
Nor did he say, as Elisabeth Sherman of Cellar Paper suggested, that Gisele “should probably start worrying about the fact that she is going to someday be fucking hideous and impossible for men to look at without actually vomiting.”
His comments did not, as Sherman (who, in the interest of full disclosure, is a friend of mine) suggested, “perpetuate the idea that age, a natural biological process, makes women ugly and undesirable.” He discussed the fact that celebrity culture acts as if that’s the case, but if to discuss an idea is to perpetuate it, maybe we should all stop talking about sexism and racism right now.
What he actually said was this:
I feel really sorry for models. I’m serious. It’s a horrible job. They get rejected and treated like they’re not even people. And this sounds negative, but when you’re considered one of the most beautiful women in the world, it’s very, very hard when that starts to slip away. It’s hard to feel good about yourself when people react to you differently. And, Gisele, I hope you’re not reading this, because it is going to sound negative, but I know through some of my best friends who are really famous actresses— I’m not going to mention their names—who were at one point considered to be among the most beautiful women in the world at different periods of time, and how hard it is for them emotionally. So I hope Gisele is prepared for that, because it’s so difficult. It’ll be the same for you when you quit playing football, it’ll be a real change.
What I see in that quote is genuine sympathy for women who are judged on their looks, and a criticism of a world that pushes its idealized women aside when they start to wrinkle. The internet's immediate reaction to his mentioning that Gisele would age, with no analysis about what he said about her aging, makes me wonder-- would the snark machine have powered up so quickly if it had been a woman lamenting the way aging women are treated in our celebrity-obsessed culture?
When women are treated differently as they age, especially if they were once supermodels, we should be mad at a world where that’s the case, not at Ford for calling it out.
And by the way, did anyone who freaked out read past the part where he said that renown for beauty slips away and get to the part where Ford said the same thing would happen to Brady when he stops playing football? Anyone? No?
Image via cellarpaper.com