One of these G’s is not like the others…one of these G’s is me.
Though I am lucky to be five foot seven, this blog title may be the closest I come in my life to Gemma Ward and Gigi Hadid. I wanted to blog about Gigi and Gemma not only because they’re favorites of mine, but also to discuss how the recent rise of social media vastly changed the supermodel landscape and identity.
Let’s start with Gemma Ward. Gemma was “discovered” on accident at just 14 years old in 2002. Within a year she was walking in major fashion weeks and became the youngest model to grace the cover of American Vogue. By 18, Vogue Paris declared her one of the top 30 models of the 2000’s. Before the rise of social media, Gemma and other models gained success and the “supermodel” title through appearances in editorials, magazine covers, billboards and fashion shows.
In 2008, at the height of her fame, Gemma suddenly retired from modeling. She had a six year hiatus, and in a 2016 ELLE Australia article Gemma reported she quit modeling because she was told her looks were fading at only 20 years old. In 2017, Gemma Ward is married with a daughter, another child on the way, and 101,000 Instagram followers.
Enter Gigi Hadid. Gigi’s first modeling gig was as a toddler for Guess Kids, with promising talent from the start. By 18, Gigi became a 2013 Swimsuit Illustrated rookie and landed a Tom Ford campaign. Like Gemma Ward, Gigi walks in top designer shows and graces multitudes of magazine covers. However, Gigi is not just your average supermodel. (If there is such a thing.) Thanks to an avid following on social media (28 million followers just on Instagram) she has been deemed the title of “social supermodel.”
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Gigi describes how being a social supermodel is not just a career but a lifestyle: “It’s not a nine-to-five job. You’re on set for 15 hours and then you go home and make sure you’re posting the right stuff on social media…it never stops.” And she obviously isn’t going to stop anytime soon, landing three major campaigns in just the first month of 2017.
And here’s what I’m thinking…
Gemma Ward was my first favorite model circa 2008 middle school days. Gigi is currently my favorite model. I can’t help but wonder if Gemma would have retained her success if social media was prevalent in her heyday. Looks don’t fade with the help of filters, and popularity doesn’t fade when there is almost an oversaturation of a figure online. And the pay difference! Gemma made $20,000 to walk a fashion show, Gigi makes $300,000 per Instagram post.
There are opinions that Gigi does not have real talent that Gemma and earlier supermodels possessed. Rather, she has enough social media presence and insider contacts to make an impact. Hey, maybe Gemma does have the better runway walk or editorial pose (I agree). But in Gigi’s defense…she has proved to have the charisma and appeal to influence an online audience of millions. Today, this qualities may be equally – if not more – valuable than the perfect swagger. Overall, both models have majorly contributed to the fashion industry and my own inspiration. Gemma was the first model I recognized as I watched couture in middle school, and I try to channel Gigi’s street style in my entire wardrobe. And yes, I do follow both on Instagram.