Christine Hart’s account of her modeling career in her book, The Stories Models Never Tell, is hauntingly intriguing. Hart explains the highs and lows of her days as a model through accounts of her time in Greece, Libya, Paris, and New York. Through the most intimate details, she reveals a side of modeling most of us could never fathom.
Hart explains her career as “unconventional” as she started out in a business geared towards a younger generation at the age of 25. With a bit of luck and a lot of beauty, she was able to establish herself within a business “where models were viewed as perishable goods” (16). Hart found that her age actually worked out best for her, providing a sense of maturity and the ability to look out for herself, whereas the younger girls constantly seemed lost and unaware of the dangers of the world around them.
Within her text, the author paints a picture of the young girls she worked with through ignorance and drive. Money-hungry and success-driven, Hart explained that these models would do anything to make it big in the business, whether that meant sleeping with the photographer, or whoever else could promise them fame.
In one account of her time in Athens, Hart recalled a swimwear shoot that was particularly astonishing. Her fellow casting mate, a young Uruguayan girl, collapsed at Hart’s feet right before the shoot was to begin. She remembered how the young girl just stood right back up, said nothing, and headed straight towards the clueless director waiting for her at the end of the hall. Hart later learned that her castmast had not collapsed from the heat, or even the usual hunger associated with teenage models starving themselves.
“At casting, while using the bathroom before changing into the bikini, she saw some kind of white, jelly-like mass, about the size of a mouse, emerge from her private parts… Amaya realized that the white mass was the result of various condoms, covered in semen and fluid, which had been inside her vagina for almost twenty-four hours.” (35)
Hart told many more stories in this same respect. As the timeline within the book progressed, and as Hart got older, the models got younger, some barely fourteen, and sent off by their families to make it on their own in foreign countries. It was a combination of her age, her knowledge obtained through her college years while attending law school, and her keen sense of morality, that kept Hart from following down the same path as some of these girls.
From one country to the next, Hart provides details of lavish parties, extensive dinners, upscale boat rides, and famous connections. Perhaps the most engaging part of her book, though, retells her tales of modeling in her own country, in New York City. She explained that the modeling scene within the U.S. was much different and more competitive than that of overseas. She said, “Americans are not given to weird, androgynous or masculine looks; they like beautiful, classic women” (87). During her career, living in New York would cost a model at least $10,000, and the physical standards were much more strict than that of overseas.
“In ten years,” she said, “I’ve seen how a U.S. size 8 has given way to a size 4… A height of 175 cm, which used to be enough to walk a show, is now considered insufficient and 180 cm is practically the standard… The aim is to show off the clothing without giving any importance to the model” (120).
Hart’s book sheds light on a wildly desired career path for many young women. Modeling, with its lights, cameras, and exposure, from the outside seems a very glamorous profession. Most young women, as Hart unveils within her text, are not fully aware of the situations they are stepping into by signing their names to the business. In this book, Hart attempts to explain the profession, not through horror nor glorification, but rather through truth and personal experience.
“This profession demands that you forever reinvent yourself,” she said. “The model is a product of society. And the agents sell this image as an ideal worth aspiring to” (106, 90).