Is It Too Much For A Woman To Be Successful In Her Own Right?
Oh hey, I’m back from China. Actually, I’ve been back for days now, dealing with jet lag and all of that crazy stuff. Before you ask, yes, there will be a China post (sometime next week), but no, I didn’t take any street style pictures because I was basically caught up in the whirlwind that is China. I know, I know, it makes me a bad blogger, I’ll make it up to you somehow, I promise.
Anyway, blame my jet lag fury but I have been stewing on this topic for the past few days. The death of L’Wren Scott is nothing short of tragic. This is someone who has dressed some of the most powerful women in Hollywood, had crazy successful collaborations (Banana Republic, Bobbi Brown) and managed to build her business from the ground up. And yet…and yet…this was the first headline about her death in The New York Times.
To be fair, The New York Times has since cleaned up its act and featured much more poignant headlines to reflect on the life of L’Wren:
Her good friend, famed fashion critic Cathy Horyn (who, up until January, used to write for The New York Times) even penned a loving tribute to the late designer in the paper.
I’m not alone in the anger of immediately falling to the juicier headline of the girlfriend of one of the most famous rock stars in the world hanged herself, rather than celebrating her as a person. New York Magazine basically called out all of the publications that fell to that angle first:
“In the first wave of stories about her death yesterday, several news outlets focused squarely on the fact that she was Mick Jagger’s girlfriend rather than anything else. The New York Times tweeted: “Mick Jagger’s Girlfriend Found Dead, Official Says,” while TMZ chose the crassly sparse headline: “Mick Jagger’s Girlfriend Hangs Herself.” BlackBook’s headline was “Breaking: Mick Jagger Girlfriend L’Wren Scott Found Dead.” The BBC, NME,the New York Post, and others all had headlines leading with the news that the girlfriend of Mick Jagger, not L’Wren Scott the designer, had killed herself.”
Although The New York Times may have since seen the light of day in that, hey, maybe we should celebrate a woman for all of her successes rather than who she is sleeping with, that hasn’t stopped the speculation surrounding her death.
In fact, when the death was announced, rumors immediately started swirling that it was because Mick Jagger had broken up with Scott. This rumor gained enough traction that Jagger’s rep had to decline it while releasing a statement of grief over the incident. The New York Post even took the angle that The Rolling Stones bandmates referred to Scott as “Yoko” and that they had snubbed her offer to design their tour outfits, ultimately leaving her feeling isolated and depressed.
You can argue that these headlines come from publications that are well-regarded for being cheap journalism and smutty, but I can’t help but shake the feeling that this angle is because of Scott’s gender.
When Alexander McQueen hanged himself in 2010, headlines ranged from detailing his drug use prior to the act to his grief over the death of his mother. Still, one word every headline made sure to have in some capacity was “designer.” No mention of any of his famous friends (Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, to name a few). No initial mention of the fact that he was in crazy amounts of debt ($50 million, to be exact, while Scott’s label was $6 million in the hole yet it’s been a major focal point -“failing” has been mentioned in more than one article). He was celebrated for his work and his contribution to the fashion industry. So why can’t Scott get the same eulogy?
You can argue it’s because McQueen had a higher place in fashion at the time of his death. You can argue that it’s because he wasn’t attached to someone with the same notoriety as Mick Jagger. You can even argue it’s because even though it occurred four short years ago, tabloid coverage wasn’t as crazy as it is today.
Whatever the case, I can’t help but shake the feeling that while there have been valiant efforts to steer news coverage away from the rock star girlfriend angle, this kind of coverage wouldn’t occur if it had been a man. Women should be celebrated for their accomplishments, their marks in their fields, ESPECIALLY a field that is so well-known for celebrating women.
Call me crazy, but if I somehow meet my maker too early and all I’m known for is being a wife/girlfriend/whatever, I’ll do some serious haunting.