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Montreal Gazette Article

Oh, shut up: Victoria's Secret model Rebecca Romijn explains how awful it is to be a famous rich babe: "I feel I have to overcompensate all the time, make myself really human, really goofy, really humble to make people feel comfortable."

Worse, "It's irritating to always have to be ... set-dressing for the world. ... How can somebody take me seriously in a lacy bra and underpants?"

Original article: Montreal Gazette

As soon as she was accepted into the University at Santa Cruz, "school didn't matter any more - it was just a place to meet my friends and figure out which beach to go to." But she stayed for a year, taking Voice as her major. When Romijn was 18 and on a semester break from her freshman year at University of California at Santa Cruz, she was persuaded by a Parisian model scout to try a career in front of the camera.

But when the offer came to fly to Paris to start a career, Rebecca was on the plane within three days. "My father was fine with that because he’s European and wanted me to see Paris. But when it was clear I could work as a model, he said, 'How are you gonna live?' and I said, 'I can do this.' So, I did, and I did make money. And when I came back, he said, 'This year I learned something from you.' "

"I was a poor student, so I was thinking, I'm missing out on something and here's a chance to travel the world and make money at the same time, I had this friend who modelled in San Francisco and she wanted me to go with her to meet her agent. So I went with her and did some test pictures. A scout from Paris saw them and invited me to go to Paris for the summer. So I went. It was uncool to admit it to anybody, but I knew I wanted to be a performer someday. I saw this as, somehow, vaguely, a stepping stone toward that. My only previous connection to pop culture was that I was obsessed with Marilyn Monroe. I mean, I certainly wasn't somebody who had posters of John Stamos on my wall."

Romijn spent from 1992 to 1995 in Paris learning the language, acquiring a sophisticated patina, making serious money and turning up on the covers of Elle, Marie Claire and the like. "I was never a supermodel," Rebecca says of her career. "I mean, I worked regularly, I made great money. But I was never that big a deal in the fashion industry." Maybe not, but she modelled for Victoria's Secret, considered a very big deal in manly circles, and appeared twice on the cover of Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue, arguably an even bigger deal in those same circles. She was on the cover of Vogue three times in one year, and was covergirl for Cosmopolitan's biggest-selling issue of the 1990s. She's been the "face" for both Tommy Hilfiger and Liz Claiborne, and was twice listed as one of People magazine's 50 most beautiful people. But when asked last season (April 2003, RRF) by Giorgio Armani to close his catwalk show in Milan, Rebecca was floored, shocked, honoured. "All I could think was, God, all those years I spent banging my head against the wall wishing that these fantastic designers loverd me, and now - all of a sudden - I find myself closing Mr Armani's show!"

So Rebecca Romijn was a B-list catalogue model ? "Actually, yes, I was" she says. "Here's how it went: I was hot for a year when I started (in 1991). But I left my agency when they cut my hair super short, because I looked so terrible with short hair that I lost all my clients. I moved to New York to do catalogue work, make money, and wait for my hair to grow out. But by the time my hair grew out Kate Moss was in and all the waifs were taking over - and I am anything but a waif. I missed the boat." Just as wel, really, that ship sailed. "But modeling became less fun and more business-y. It was like, "I'm making a good living, all right, but I am really, really bored.'" Did her boredom ever grease one of those slides down the rabbit hole we know from Gia? Emphatically tossing her mane of hair in the negative, she tells me, "I saw some really sad girls who started modeling way too young. I treated modeling as a business and never made the mistake of believing my own hype. If I had to work the next day at six in the morning, I went to bed at nine the night before instead of going out and partying. One time, Tyra Banks and I were reading excerpts about drugs, sex and ugliness from that Michael Gross book about the fashion world: "Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women", and I asked Tyra, "Have you ever been offered drugs as long as you've been modeling?" and she said, "No, have you?" When I said, "Never," she said, "What's wrong with us? We're like the nerds the pretty, popular girls shut out, aren't we?"

Original article: Movieline 2/2000 & Premiere Magazine 4/2004 & Sunday Telegraph Magazine 4/2003

Rebecca said she hates what the modelling business does to pretty young things. "In my opinion, nobody should be allowed to model until they are 18," she said. "I've seen too many 14 and 15 year olds who have dropped out of high school, live in Paris, go out all night with dirty old rich men who give them drugs and treat them like 30 year olds. I've met models who were illiterate, could barely write their own names. I think it's terrible. I never understand the parents who let their kids leave school and home so young."

"The agencies always make it sound like they'll look out for these girls, but they don't. In the end, they just want to make as much money as possible - so the younger the girl, the better. I have noticed that the more successful models, in general, are the ones with more education." Although Elle MacPherson doesn't read anything she hasn't written...

Original article: Ralph 6/1999

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