Miranda Kerr isn’t a model. Sure, her perfectly symmetrical and cherubic face—doe eyes, elfin nose, dime-sized dimples—has been deployed in numerous beauty and fashion ads. And her pert chest and high-rise legs have dominated the Victoria’s Secret runway show for the past seven years. But no, no, no, she is most definitely not a model.
“If someone asks me what I do, I say, ‘I have my own skin care line,” the 31-year-old non-model recently told Net-a-Porter’s The Edit. Kerr doesn’t consider being paid large sums to have her picture taken to be her actual job, as such. “I don’t define myself as a model,” she said, despite being the second-highest-paid model in the world.
Models have long taken the position that their jobs aren’t as glamorous as they look and require a level of skill unrecognized by the less attractive: those 5 a.m. call times, requisite Brazilian bikini waxes, and daily workouts with a personal trainer are really, truly hard work, unique to the lanky and high-cheekboned. And lest we think models are just bony arms and pretty faces, they frequently assure us that they are really, truly intelligent.
But lately, instead of simply qualifying their work, some models have taken to denying their profession altogether. The 21-year-old Vogue favorite Karlie Kloss, who is expected to make Forbes’ highest-paid models list this year, echoed Kerr in a recent interview with Into the Gloss: “I’ve never considered modeling an actual job title. I have yet to determine what my job actually is…”
Kloss has already established Karley’s Kookies, a gluten-free collaboration with New York City bakery Momofuku Milk Bar, and a signature line of sunglasses with Warby Parker. For top-rank models, it’s a common supplement to their already exorbitant salaries: clever business people come up with ideas for models to sponsor—and then you’re a model and a businesswoman (or, for the truly delusional, a novelist). Kerr has a skin care line because she has nice skin, not because she studied for eight years to get nice skin.
And lest you think she is getting ahead in business because of her looks, Kloss let it be known that she is now taking classes at Harvard Business School. Soon enough, she’ll be climbing the corporate ladder at a major bank or investment firm, where otherworldly good looks are ignored in favor of business acumen. But despite the Instagram photos showing her diligently studying in Harvard’s Baker Library and the predictable headlines (The Daily Mail: “Brains AND beauty! Supermodel Karlie Kloss trades the runway for school books as she begins Harvard business program”), Kloss didn’t have to take the GMAT: she paid $8,750 to enroll in “The Business of Entertainment, Media, and Sports,” a week-long course for “executives,” the only barrier to entry is “proficiency in written and spoken English.”
But Kloss and Kerr aren’t alone. Few top models say they are content being just that. And why would they stop there when they can parlay their modeling portfolios into careers in acting, fashion design, or good samaritanism?
Most supermodels from the ’80s and ’90s have become brands. Elle MacPherson has her own line of lingerie (who wouldn’t want to buy undergarments from a woman nicknamed “The Body”?). Kathy Ireland, who entered the business world with a line of socks for Kmart, has built a $350 million licensing empire worth more than Martha Stewart’s. Cindy Crawford sells furniture with Raymour and Flanagan to middle-class America.
Because being fabulously wealthy and well-known solely for winning the genetic lottery can be slightly embarrassing. A proper model should possess a good attitude and work ethic, business savvy, and the ability to save starving children in Africa while saving the Earth with an eco-friendly fashion label.
And if all else fails, simply deny any knowledge of the modeling profession and tell friends and journalists that you are, in fact, a really attractive entrepreneur.