Elle Macpherson: ‘I wasn’t comfortable in front of the camera … that scrutiny is difficult’

I side-eyed Elle Macpherson for a while because she dated the disgraced doctor who first created the myth that vaccines cause autism. But she’s not with him anymore so that’s good, at least. While she may have got her start as a supermodel, she’s quite the business woman now. In addition to a lingerie line, she has a wellness company called WelleCo that sells herbal “elixirs”. I wonder if Gwyneth Paltrow helped her find investors for that venture. Anyway, Elle has been doing speaking engagements with an organization called Business Chicks. She talked recently in Melbourne at one of these events about how different the modeling industry is now compared to when she first started. She also shared how difficult it was for her to be a model because she put so much pressure on herself.

How social media has changed modeling: “I think that the models that have been able to transition in this period … have been the girls that have been willing to get off the pedestal, and come back down to earth, and start working with businesses that really resonate with them. So that they can talk about who they are and what they believe in, in everyday ways, instead of having to be like a rock star.”

Versatility was important in Australia, but not as much in the US: “In the 80s and 90s when I first started, everything was about bigger, better, bolder — your work was about creating an image and that was the most important thing, your image. When I first started modelling in Australia … you did everything — you were a hand model, a foot model, swimwear, runway, TV commercials. If you wanted to earn money, you had to be versatile.”

Macpherson reflected on moving to New York — initially, with a plan to make enough money from modelling to put herself through a law degree — and being told she had to conform to rigid beauty standards.

“They’re like, ‘No Elle, brown-eyed girls don’t do covers’. I was like, no, no, give us a go here,” Macpherson said.

She put pressure on herself to be perfect: “I wasn’t comfortable in front of the camera … that amount of scrutiny is quite difficult to cope with day in and day out…when I say scrutiny … it was my own. I had a huge attention to detail and it’s not great when it’s directed at yourself.”

[From The Daily Telegraph]

That quote about brown eyed girls not doing covers…it’s really something. Is modeling all that different now? I don’t think it is, not when it comes to beauty standards. But the idea that models have to have a personal brand is newer. I think of the model Gia Carangi, who had a very sad life and died young, but she was kind of the proto-Supermodel. She was active in the late 70s and early 80s. One of the things that made Gia so remarkable was how adaptable her features were–she could look androgynous and angular, sophisticated and polished, or feminine and sultry. She was a chameleon. That’s what models were back then, as Elle describes. Versatility was everything, and the profession was not as personality-based. All that changed with the arrival of the Supers.

It’s hard to imagine a professional model not being comfortable in front of the camera, but I’m sure you end up internalizing the pressures of that industry. I do find it oddly comforting that someone whose nickname was “The Body” still had insecurities. But it’s also sad. I relate to that feeling of scrutinizing my appearance as I’m sure many of us do. I’ve struggled with body dysmorphia and disordered eating for many years. And yet I look back at photos from eight years ago, and I think, wow, I looked great in those days. What was I so insecure about? But back then I was just as insecure and self-conscious. Facing that internal drive for perfection, in the most body-conscious profession possible…I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, even if Elle gives me Goop/anti-vaxx vibes.

Photos via Instagram and credit: UPPA/Photoshot (from 1999), Abaca/INSTARimages/Cover Images (from 2022, with her son, Flynn)

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

13 Responses to “Elle Macpherson: ‘I wasn’t comfortable in front of the camera … that scrutiny is difficult’”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. The Old Chick says:

    Wtaf? What? That’s f’ing bullshit. Having dated one of Elles exes in the 80s /90s Elle was a nasty bitch. I would have never said but Elle would send naked pics to her exes, she was wildly insecure. She only wanted people to be jealous and she was horrible

    And she bullied her exes. I really think he was traumatised by her. When you date a supermodel who dumps you, it’s hard. She dumped everyone. She was a terrible person

    • Roscoemama says:

      Agreed, I meant her back in 1999 at an event in Monte Carlo and she was totally a mean girl. She would not acknowledge anyone like we were beneath her.

    • Concern Fae says:

      Insecurity driving someone to be a bully and a mean girl is absolutely a thing. So much of our media and popular fiction, movies, and TV perpetuates the myth that insecurity is about being a quiet, shrinking type that the bullies get tremendous sympathy when they come out as “insecure.” We almost need two words for the different types.

  2. Chaine says:

    Is it mean to say that to me she is and was pretty generic? I really never thought of her as one of the “supermodels.” I mean she was one of those typical lanky blondes in men’s mag swimsuit covers, I don’t recall her being any designer’s muse or someone whose beauty was breathtaking.

  3. Cosmic Cow says:

    I find it improbable/impossible that GOOP would give advice or financial assistance to any competition and that includes Elle or MM.

  4. SeoulMama says:

    She was with Andrew Wakefield for YEARS, she can just completely fuck off

  5. Kat says:

    I met Elle several times in the 90s. She was always rude and deeply unpleasant.

  6. Twin Falls says:

    “And yet I look back at photos from eight years ago, and I think, wow, I looked great in those days.”

    Same. So I try and tell myself that right now is the best I’ll ever look lol and to appreciate it but it’s still hard not to find fault with what I see in the mirror.

  7. Lady Rae says:

    I’m sure she has a cameo in the Valentino documentary and comes off as pretty unpleasant and bitchy

  8. Denguy says:

    She was the host of Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model and from season to season they really had to tone her down to make her likable.

  9. Polly says:

    I remember reading an interview she did back in 2016 where she was asked her opinion on the upcoming US election, and I can’t remember exactly what she said but I got the impression she was a Trump supporter, albeit unwilling to come out and say it.

  10. j.ferber says:

    Peter Gabriel, who dated Elle, wrote In Your Eyes for her. It is such a beautiful, soulful song and it pisses me off that he wrote it for a woman known as The Body.

    • bisynaptic says:

      Please don’t ruin “In Your Eyes” for me! The internet says the inspiration was Rosanna Arquette.