It's not a surprise to hear that Victoria's Secret angels work hard for their insane bodies. While the use of seemingly homogenous body types for advertisements has been deservedly criticized, the modeling industry does have a few body pos stars. However, Blanca Padilla's comments about Gigi Hadid's body positive Instagram post are rather harsh and dismissive. While the model has faced her own unfair and uncalled for criticism for her own weight, Padilla's passive acceptance of industry standers and criticism of Hadid call into question whether or not she's truly on #teambodypos.
Padilla was interviewed by Risto Mejide, a Spanish television host, on his show, and she had a lot to say about model bodies and Gigi Hadid's place in the industry. A few weeks ago, mega successful Hadid posted a statement to her Instagram denouncing those who would criticize her curvier body in the fashion industry. Hadid emphasized her acceptance of her own body, and it was a powerful message, but according to Padilla, her ability to work isn't based on her talent or confidence, it's based on her Instagram. On Mejide's show, the Victoria's Secret model said:
I agree with what [Gigi] said. I don't have a problem with the fact that you're a curvy girl on the runway, I support that. But if it was me with your same measurements going to a casting they would send me home to lose weight...Most of us have to conform to extreme measurements because otherwise we won't book any jobs while others have the privilege to say that designers love them despite their curves. Well, then, why do they love you? Maybe your millions of followers on Instagram might have something to do with it as well!"
A little harsh, right?
Before it seems like I'm going on a body positive witch hunt, Padilla does say that she supports Hadid's comments, which is great. However, it's what comes after that's problematic. Padilla essentially dismisses Hadid and her work as a result of her Instagram celebrity status. While I think some credence can be afforded to that statement, there's a total flip side that supermodel Tyra Banks pointed out herself.
Models like Hadid — or fellow "celebrity" model Kendall Jenner — are forced to always be on brand, even in their personal lives which are often showcased on their social media. Instagram has become part of their brand and exploiting your social media's popularity doesn't make you privileged so much as smart. While Padilla may also be referring to Hadid's famous mom, it's hard to make an argument that Yolanda Foster — no matter how gorgeous or successful — was enough to get her daughter walking for heavy hitters like DVF.
While her comments about Hadid aren't great, they're not as questionable as her opinion on the industry's standards for models. It's this moment that really calls into question whether Padilla supports body diversity in fashion. In her interview, Padilla speaks extensively about fashion's insane regulations on model bodies. She explains, "I always think that one of the most important things you have to learn in this society is to accept yourself, and that's very hard...it's the same for models because we actually work with our body and physical appearance. This job isn't about liking yourself, it's about being like your clients want. People at home probably think I'm being dramatic, but the only way to truly understand this is if you work in the industry." It's not every day that you see a model openly admitting that the industry doesn't seem to care whether models like themselves. Most assumed that tidbit already, but it's another thing to have someone say it aloud.
The problem in Padilla's statement though comes in its seeming hypocrisy. Padilla advocates for accepting yourself, and I'm assuming when says that she's inclusive of your body. However, in the same moment, she admits to working in an industry that doesn't encourage liking oneself. While an argument may be made that Padilla accepts herself despite the regulations imposed by her profession, her earlier statements about Hadid suggest that her support of Hadid's more diverse sizing just isn't the case.
Instead of crediting Hadid with being a curvier model, she seems to passively accept the unfair standards of the industry on both herself and her peers who don't have "millions of followers on Instagram." Padilla takes those standards, internalizes them, and moves on. It's that position as a passive bystander that truly bothers me, especially with women like Ashley Graham being incredibly successful and curvy without the accused "celebrity" status that Hadid comes with.
While it's hard to infer what's going on in Padilla's mind during the interview, parsing through her statements is equally as difficult. Would I love if she'd come forward as a champion for diverse sizing in modeling? Of course. However, I think it's important that Padilla does take a moment criticize the industry — something that clearly needs to occur. Padilla's seeming acceptance of the standards is problematic and needs to be addressed.