Reality star and runway darling Kendall Jenner is quite the polarizing force. Although she recently refuted claims that she was bullied by other models backstage during the September fashion shows, it seems there is some bitterness in the industry regarding her lightening fast rise to fame. According to StyleCaster, fellow model Arisce Wanzer penned an open letter to Kendall Jenner explaining that her appearances at NYFW did indeed piss some people off.
Many believe that Kendall owes most of her success to her name, despite her attempts to distance herself from her famous family by ditching her last name and asking her siblings not to attend her shows. Wanzer, whom StyleCaster notes is transgender and signed to the agency BMG, certainly agrees. Her letter, published on a website called The Blot, accuses Kendall of using her family money to land coveted spots on the runways. She writes:
Take a moment and remove yourself from your current situation, if you can, to a life that isn’t riddled with excess and only hearing the word “yes” to your wants and requests. Now, imagine you’re from a small town and/or Third-World country where your only way to get out of your current social class, achieve your dreams, get a green card or just gain better work conditions is to become a high-fashion model. You have to leave for six months to a year sometimes, signing contracts you can barely understand, let alone oblige to, almost without choice. You’re away from your family, your friends and everything you know. You live in a one-bedroom apartment with six other girls in the same situation in this Big Apple, New York City.
So now let’s pretend you actually lived through all of that, and it’s finally Fashion Week. Exciting, right? This could be your big break! You could send your family in Belarus or Woodbridge, Va., the money they need for your little brothers to have new clothes and/or books for school and/or even afford a plane ticket home for the holidays! Imagine standing in line after line of girls with your exact height and body measurements all day, each one hoping for a coveted spot on the New York Fashion Week runway.
But wait, isn’t that a reality TV star over there in hair and makeup? Yea, that’s definitely a Kardashian or something. What is she doing here? Did she take the subway? Was she at the casting? What agency is she with? I didn’t see her last season … Does she need MORE fame? MORE money? A green card perhaps? Doesn’t she get enough cash from that show that all of ignorant America glamorizes? Didn’t her sister have sex with someone on camera and profit from the video sales to get their family its new line of limelight? This girl didn’t do and doesn’t owe half of what you did (remember, you’re NOT “KJ” in this scenario) to get here today, that much is certain. Her mommy surely called a top agency, got her in the door and the design houses just chose to milk her fame like the cash cow that it is. One by one like dominos from Vogue to Givenchy, fashion is selling out to the ignorant masses for money. What happened to the art, the cerebral part of fashion? Did it really all die with Alexander McQueen?
Ouch! I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, Wanzer makes a strong point about how many under-privileged girls go into modeling and how hard it is for those who start out with nothing to get a big break. Plus, Wanzer is transgender and therefore probably had to work extra hard to be accepted on the runway. I can understand how she might feel animosity towards someone who became the next big thing practically over night.
But. Kendall Jenner is a really skilled model who has been nothing but gracious (publicly, at least) about her good fortune. It seems a bit unfair to blame her for capitalizing on her family's reality TV beginnings and parlaying it into something more. One could make the claim that Cara Delevingne is doing the exact same thing with acting that Kendall Jenner did with modeling. It's not fair per se, but that's... life.
That said, I do understand Wanzer's anger and frustration. She presumably busts her butt trying to find work as a model and doesn't get nearly the return on her investment that Kendall Jenner does. Head over the The Blot to read the rest of the letter and decide for yourself whether Wanzer's harsh words are justified.
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