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Goldsmiths' Official Student Magazine

An open letter to Kendall Jenner

November 11, 2015
Jennifer Hahn writes an open letter to Kendall Jenner   Dear Kendall, I would like to congratulate you at the tender age of 19, after only three years of editorial work and a mere 2 years working runways, you have been placed 8th on the Forbes list of 2015’s Top Paid Models. With an estimated…
Jennifer Hahn writes an open letter to Kendall Jenner

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Dear Kendall,

I would like to congratulate you at the tender age of 19, after only three years of editorial work and a mere 2 years working runways, you have been placed 8th on the Forbes list of 2015’s Top Paid Models. With an estimated income of £2.56 million last year and being relatively new on the scene your bank account trumps those of established models such as Jourdan Dunn and Kate Upton.

In an interview for V Magazine last May, you took the opportunity to lament the effect that you and your family’s reality TV fame has had on your arduous way to supermodeldom. I quote: “You have no idea how many doors closed on me and how many adults were either initially reluctant to take a chance working with me or who outright laughed at me behind my back.”

Now, I know that privilege, to those who have it, is a ‘fish can’t see the water’ type of situation so outlined below, please find the reasons for your meteoritic shoot to fashion fame and fortune (Spoiler Alert: none of them are your hard work).

  1. You and your family have connections – lots of them – plus insider knowledge of the creative industries. Thus you are aware of how best to manage a long and profitable career, how to get fair pay for your work in a non-unionised workplace, as well as an understanding of when to reject or accept a job. Your considerable financial backing also gives you the luxury to reject jobs that contradict your morals or ‘brand’.
  2. Your connections have allowed you to be signed with Wilhelmina and Elite Models, two of the world’s top modelling agencies. According to researchers at the Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing, this gives you nearly 10-times higher chances of walking a runway than someone with your age and measurements that is represented by non-top agencies.
  3. The same team of researchers also found that a model’s social media following is more of a determining factor for their success than their agency and their congruence with the industry’s aesthetic standards. This sentiment is supported by Betsy Shrader, an agent and booker for Wilhelmina Models: ‘If a client is deciding between two models, the job will definitely go to the model with the most followers and the biggest social presence’. Seeing as you’re in the top 10 most-followed accounts on Instagram (37.2 million followers) and simultaneously responsible for the single most liked picture (3.1 million likes), I think you’ve got that sorted.

You, Kendall, are part of an ever-increasing tendency towards nepotism in the fashion industry. More and more brands are turning to second generation talent (Lily-Rose Depp, Hailey Baldwin, Georgia May Jagger, Willow Smith – the list goes on) for their name recognition and pre-existing following. Basically, they are using your predictable success as a safety blanket.

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As Tom Fitzgerald, of fashion blog ‘Tom & Lorenzo’ told the New York Post: “It’s the fashion world’s equivalent of the movie studios’ tendency to keep making sequels or movies out of pre-existing properties.”

Or, as one anonymous ‘modelling-world veteran’ stated more bluntly: “Kendall is plain Jane in comparison to many girls but the Kardashian association sells everywhere, especially in the Midwest.”

Most girls trying to get into modelling go to open calls, spam agencies with their head shots, put up online portfolios and network until their mouth is dry of spit, and they still won’t ever step a high heel clad food onto a runway. And even if they do get taken under the wing of an agency, few can make a living solely off modelling. What separates you from them and what ultimately garnered you that £2.56m pay check is the fact that you knew someone who knew someone who was famous and now you’re a celebrity by proxy. Please recognise your privilege and speak with consideration next time.

Best, Jen