MIA FREEDMAN: '6 thoughts I had while watching The Super Models documentary.'

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It's hard to convey how much I enjoyed watching The Super Models, the four-part docuseries that dropped on Apple TV+ last week. I can't stop thinking about it.

We spoke about it on Mamamia Out Loud this week and that 20 mins wasn't nearly enough so here I am.

It felt a bit like spending time with old friends in the same way as watching the Friends reunion. Or like watching And Just Like That but less irritating. It feels weird to say The Super Models felt authentic because obviously it wasn't at all.

The four supers were not just willing participants, they were also producers although crucially, it turns out they didn't have content approval. You can tell that because some of the behind-the-scenes footage of them from now, getting ready for their sit-down interviews or photographed for a recent Vogue cover showed them in unflattering ways and by unflattering of course I mean they looked like human women.

Watch the trailer for The Super Models. Post continues below.

Video via Apple TV+.

Which I adored, of course but I feel like they would have not adored? These are women who know their angles and candid footage is not something we saw of them during the height of their fame because it was pre-phone-camera.

And their job - crucially - was not to be relatable. They were not 'just like us' and that was the whole point. They were Super.

In no particular order, here are some of my strong opinions, loosely held:

1) It's weird hearing them talk.

Because their fame was pre-Internet (let alone pre social media), our experience of the supermodels and our exposure to them was purely visual. Which makes sense. Models are literally paid to look pretty and sell clothes and products. It doesn't matter how smart they are, how articulate they are or even if they behave like monsters.

It's different now, of course. Being an influencer requires different and more varied skills than just looking a certain way (but also you have to look a certain way). There is waaaaay more scrutiny. And cancellation.

Part of the supers' allure was their mystery. They didn't have to be likeable or approachable or relatable. Just like rockstars which is what they essentially were. Being nice or having something to say was never a pre-requisite for being a supermodel so we never heard them speak.

Well, maybe Cindy a bit because she deliberately chose to broaden her appeal and her opportunities by diversifying into TV and, disastrously, movies. But Christy and Linda, never.


I always imagined Linda's voice to be much lower. Husky. But she has a girlish, breathy, timid voice that so belies the image she always projected of extraordinary strength and power. I like that they're talking. I like that they've found their voice. I want to hear more of what they have to say.

Linda Evangelista in the documentary. Image: Apple TV+.


2) Christy seems the most genuinely comfortable in her skin.

It would be easy to say that's because she's one of the most beautiful women in the world but so are the other three.

Christy's relationship to ageing seems definitely different to Naomi, Linda and Cindy who seem more conflicted about it. And I don't just mean the grey at Christy's temples and the laugh lines around her eyes. She seems very comfortable with growing older, like it was a suitcase she was thrilled to put down and slowly walk away from.

3) Linda is a f**king trooper.

Dear God, what that woman has been through.

She seemed impenetrable during the height of her fame but she was effectively cancelled when she said that line about none of them getting out of bed for less than $10K a day.

Now it would be seen as an iconic feminist moment. An example of a woman knowing her worth. But it effectively signed the death warrant on her career and marked the beginning of the end of the supermodels' reign as a collective. It came to define her as a spoiled and entitled and arrogant when it should have been a mark of her success and hard work.

Then there was the alleged physical and emotional abuse by her husband who was also her agent.

The cancer. The double mastectomy and the way she allowed the cameras to capture her at her most vulnerable moment, bloated and sick, getting treatment in hospital. And finally, the disastrous decision she made to get a fat-freezing procedure that left her "brutally disfigured" and afraid to leave the house for years. 


She's had the shittiest of times and I was so moved by her courage in even participating in this doco. She was its emotional heart. And, in my opinion, the best of all the supers in that she was the chameleon. She wasn't necessarily the most objectively beautiful. But she worked it. Modelling is harder than it looks and she was the gold Logie.

4) Naomi does not have time for Linda's tragedy.

If there was any tea between these women who have known one another for decades, it was carefully managed. The only glimpse we got was the way Linda and Naomi greeted one another at the shoot. Frosty. And in stark contrast to the genuine warmth between Linda and the others. 

Naomi certainly seems… self-absorbed? The most narcissistic? Her history of assaulting other women was breezily glossed over which you'd expect but it was still kind of shocking when I went back and reminded myself (you can read a basic run-down here).

Not a huge amount of self-awareness was my impression.

Naomi Campbell on The Super Models. Image: Apple TV+.


5) What was Cindy Crawford thinking when she recreated that Pepsi commercial?

I mean, I know she looks almost the same and that's… great? Something to be… proud of? 

As she got her spray tan and poured herself into those cut-offs and bodysuit again, it made me feel sad which sounds like a ridiculous and patronising thing to say about a multimillionaire in her late 50s who looks ostensibly as though she's 23 if you squint. But I guess I felt sad that this was the wow-moment goal of the exercise. 

And I get it would make Cindy herself feel good given that her value has been built on these exact beauty standards. Maybe my sadness is for all women that we still live in a society that places such material and cultural value on a woman literally looking the same for her whole life as she did at her aesthetic 'peak' of 23.


Because ultimately that's a battle even Cindy can't win.

Also: there is something a bit uncomfortable about a woman trying to go back to the age her own daughter is now. You could see her eye-roll when she spoke about now being more famous for being "Kaia's mum" and it was understandable that she bristles when people remark: "You look just like Kaia!". "Excuse me, she looks like me," she replies, trying to laugh it off but clearly pissed which I bloody loved.

6) The grunge era was such a calculated f**k you to the supermodels and it ended them.

Linda's $10K a day comment marked the start of the backlash. Designers, brands and magazines who were resentful that their fame was being eclipsed by models who were meant to shut up and do what they were told because that’s how it had always worked before.

They had power and they took that power from the people who hired them to walk runways and do magazine covers and ad campaigns. 

They knew their worth and that was intensely annoying to the king-makers who didn't want to cede that power any longer. The grunge movement was explicitly about taking away the supermodels' hard-earned power and replacing it with an image of women that was hungry, drug-addicted, pale and frail. It was f**ked up and it worked.

Feature Image: Apple TV+.

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