Kate Moss started modeling at a VERY young age. Unfortunately it’s an industry that has historically ignored such boundaries — something the future supermodel learned to her disgust when she was just 15 years old!
The ’90s icon was a guest on BBC Radio 4‘s Desert Island Discs last week and gave an extremely candid interview about everything from her rough-and-tumble childhood to testifying about her tumble with Johnny Depp.
When asked if she was aware of her looks from a young age, she gave the surprising answer:
“No, no. Definitely not.”
In fact, her own mother wasn’t even convinced when she was first spotted by a scout! She recounted:
“When I said to my mum that I’d met a modeling agent that wanted me to go to London, she was like, ‘Oh, I don’t think you’re very photogenic.’ And I was like, “No, neither do I.’”
WTF, MUM?! Kate admitted:
“I definitely didn’t think I was model material.”
Doubts be damned, they both decided she “might as well try” seeing as it can be a lucrative career if you’re very good and very lucky. Kate was, of course, both. But it wasn’t an immediate onramp to Easy Street.
Early on in her career she had an experience that would have caused many aspiring models to flee the business altogether! She recalled the photographer asking her for more than she was willing to give:
“I had a horrible experience for a bra catalogue. I was only 15 probably and he said, ‘Take your top off’, and I took my top off. And I was really shy then about my body. And he said, ‘Take your bra off’, and I could feel there was something wrong so I got my stuff and I ran away. I think it sharpened my instincts. I can tell a wrong ’un a mile away.”
Phew! That’s pretty icky! We mean… why would a bra catalogue need a photo without the bra?? Good thing she didn’t get fooled into thinking she had to say yes to everything.
However, even photoshoots on the up-and-up required some sacrifice. Kate remembered one shoot with the late photographer Corinne Day, someone she worked with a number of times. This was a shoot for The Face magazine — when she was only 16.
She may not have been a wrong ‘un, but Corinne demanded a lot, too! Kate, now 48 years old, still remembers:
“That scrunched up nose that is on the cover, she would say, ‘Snort like a pig’ to get that picture. And I would be like, ‘I don’t want to snort like a pig’, and she would be like, ‘Snort like a pig, that’s when it looks good.’”
Kate remembers she “cried a lot” during the shoot because she was still uncomfortable being “naked”:
“I didn’t want to take my top off.”
Uh, yeah, she was 16 years old. Of course she was uncomfortable! She shouldn’t have been asked for that! She continued:
“I was really, really self-conscious about my body and she would say, ‘If you don’t take your top off I am not going to book you for Elle,’ and I would cry. It is painful because she was my best friend and I really loved her — but she was a very tricky person to work with.”
This story ends in a much grayer area ethically than the previous one, however. Kate conceded:
“But… the pictures are amazing so she got what she wanted and I suffered for them, but in the end they did me a world of good, really. They did change my career.”
Huh. Yeah, not sure about that message. What her career gave her may have been amazing, but it didn’t mean she was treated much better. The next year, in 1992, she booked a huge underwear campaign for Calvin Klein, alongside young Mark Wahlberg. You probably remember the pics, but if not here’s a refresher — Kate talking about them way back then!
It doesn’t get bigger or more legitimate than CK in the early ’90s. But even then we’re talking about a teen being pressured to take her top off. Kate was still just 17 years old. She says she had to take a Valium just to get through the anxiety of showing so much skin.
Asked if she felt objectified doing it, Kate answered unequivocally:
“Yes completely, and vulnerable and scared. I think they played on my vulnerability, and I was quite young and innocent, so Calvin loved that.”
Yeesh. Like we said, historically an industry that preys on the very young…
What do YOU think of Kate’s recollection of the beginnings of her career??