doutzen kroes

As anyone with a brain and an audience has written about time and time again, women (and, to a different extent, men) are inundated with images and messages telling us that we aren’t:

1. thin enough

2. sexy enough

3. tall enough

4. desirable enough.

It’s not a secret that this culture is wreaking havoc on our self esteem. Occasionally, models speak out against the digitally manipulated images that flood into our culture’s conception of what a woman looks like, but rarely do they admit their own part in perpetuating it.

In an in depth profile in The Telegraph, Victoria’s Secret model Doutzen Kroes tries to add a dash of reality to the world of fashion that is firmly not rooted in reality. Kroes says that even she doesn’t fit into the cultural ideal that’s mostly based on smoke and mirrors instead of the way women look. While I normally find models being like “even I’m not that skinny” when they’re regarded as the most conventionally attractive women in the world to be a disingenuous ploy to appear relatable, this seems like a very sincere and healthy attitude. She says:

“I’m not a sample size at all. At some shows I know they have been using very young girls who have not gone into the change of the body yet – no hips, no boobs. I’m 28 and I’ve had a baby. I have a woman’s body, and once in a while you run into the fact that things are not fitting the way they should be. But I joke about it and say, ‘What 13-year-old girl was wearing this?’ If they think I’m too fat, I’d rather not do the job – because I am super-healthy and fit and I’m so happy the way I am.”

Kroes talks openly and honestly about the conflict she feels about her role in painting a fake picture of what women look like.

“I feel I’m such a big part of that insecurity that some girls might have because of my job, that girls think they have to be that picture. And even boys, they think that that picture exists and it’s so frustrating because I don’t look like that picture — I wake up not looking like that picture.”

It’s one thing to be like “I’m not perfect, end of conversation” and then walk away, leaving people to look at Photoshopped photos of actual perfection. But it’s another thing entirely for Kroes to admit her role in this hugely negative clusterfuck of messages and images telling women they aren’t good enough.