In a rare TV interview, the supermodel retracts her controversial mantra – and says she wouldn’t let her daughter pose topless like she did.
Kate Moss has always had a rebellious edge. That’s why we love her. The fur coats, the eyeliner, the constant smouldering fag in hand, the much-publicised rock ‘n’ roll relationships with men in leather jackets: over the last 30 years, it has all combined to create the impression of an irrepressible, unapologetic party girl. In a wellness-obsessed world where women over the age of 30 are often judged for raucous behaviour – particularly if they’re mothers – there’s something uplifting about Moss’ refusal to come over all virtuous and green-juicy.
But over the course of Moss’ three decades in the spotlight, there have been moments when her cheerful hedonism has tipped into genuine controversy. One of the most divisive moments of her career came in 2009, when she told an interviewer that one of her life mottos was “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”.
At the time, Moss qualified the statement – sort of – by adding that the motto “never works”. But that didn’t stop her from being roundly criticised by eating disorders charities, campaigners and politicians, who expressed concern that her words could become a mantra for young people struggling with body image issues and eating disorders.
In keeping with her other famous catchphrase (“never complain, never explain”), Moss has always refused to be drawn into the debate around her comments about skinniness. But in a rare television interview, the supermodel indicated that she no longer subscribes to that maxim.
During an appearance on US TV show Megyn Kelly Today, Moss seemed to groan when the phrase was brought up, and said she originally picked it up from one of her old flatmates.
“My friend used to say it, because you know, we were all living together, and we’d go for the biscuits and go: ‘Oh, nothing tastes as g-.’” she said. “It’s a little jingle.”
Moss added that she was pleased to see models of a range of sizes and appearances being booked for fashion shows and editorial shoots.
“There’s so much more diversity now, I think it’s right,” she said. “There’s so many different sizes and colours and heights… So yes, for sure, it’s better.”
Moss also discussed her feelings of discomfort about posing nude and topless as a teenage model. “I worked with a woman photographer called Corinne Day and she always liked me with no top on and I did not like it at all when I first started,” she said.
Referring to photos taken by her ex-boyfriend Mario Sorrenti for Calvin Klein’s iconic Obsession campaign in 1993, Moss said: “Mario was my boyfriend so I was kind of used to [posing topless with him]. But I was still always like, ‘Can I just put some clothes on?’”
When asked what advice she’d give to young models feeling coerced into doing topless or nude shoots, Moss said: “They don’t have to do it if they don’t want to do it.
“I wouldn’t let my daughter [Lila Grace, 15] do it,” she continued. “I look at her now and she’s 15, and to think that I was going topless at her age is crazy.”
Moss rarely gives interviews, particularly televised interviews: as well as that rebellious streak, her image has been built on retaining a sense of distance and mystery. In public, she is a visual creature, not a verbal one. But there’s something heartening about hearing her speak so thoughtfully about her own life experiences and the pressures and problems within the fashion industry.
And while she seems to look back fondly on her Nineties modelling heyday, she’s absolutely right to point out the bits that weren’t so glamorous – from the lack of diversity to the exploitative treatment of underage models. She’s undoubtedly got many more stories to tell – and when she’s ready to share them, we’ll be listening.
Images: Getty Images