- Gareth K Vile
- 7 August 2018
This article is from 2018.
A deep study on a shallow trade
Performer and writer Issy Knowles reflects on her past career as a model, in a sharp short show that quickly addresses the familiar and unfamiliar pitfalls of contemporary fashion. A monologue that covers emotional trauma, the pressures of the agency's demands and the sadly inevitable sexual harassment, Knowles' lively delivery is engaging and presents her protagonist as amiable, innocent and a victim of her own naivety and predatory influencers.
While the study of the various incidents is shocking and precise, the deeper motivations are rarely examined, either for the character or the industry. It is a depressing reflection on how beauty is manufactured and when Knowles comments that 'it is what is inside that counts', the irony is obvious. The more personal episodes – an abortive love affair, visits to GUM clinics – are delivered with the same blithe enthusiasm as tales of casting sessions, and it is only in the predictable photo shoot that descends into sexual harassment that the mood goes explicitly darker.
A study of life for a model that veers between general thoughts on patriarchal oppression and more pointed critiques of the fashion industry, Model Behaviour does not always integrate the personal and the political, but is a forceful condemnation of a system that reduces women to skin and bone facsimiles of beauty.
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