By: Emily Yakashiro
Above: Sky Ferreira modelling in the Marc Jacobs Spring 2014 show
Relatively recently news broke that musician/model Sky Ferreira was busted for drug possession. Cue the whole fashion world freaking out, complete with recollections of Kate Moss‘s infamous drug scandal not far behind. When it comes to Ferreira my question is: does it really matter that this young, female model/musician uses drugs?
It’s complicated, but I say no; it does not matter by and large that Ferreira was caught with drugs. Kate Moss is still famous, and Ferreira will be, too. And that’s fine by me.
Unsurprisingly, this all seems to boil down to stereotypical gender roles and policing women and what they (should not) do. Women like Ferreira and Moss can be “bad girls,” but even within that label are expected not to cross certain lines, and using drugs is one of those lines (no pun intended). In addition to the million other things women aren’t supposed to do (walk alone at night, have sex for pleasure, take up too much space on public transit, wear certain things…) they can’t engage in recreational drug use. It’s really so silly–do you really expect Ferreira to stay at home every night and crochet blankets for orphans? I don’t think so.
Above: The new UN Women x Google campaign–can you see how Ferreira’s drug scandal is connected?
Male celebrities get crucified for drug use, too, but they get famous in a way that only a few women have done also (Rihanna and Mary-Louise Parker in Weeds come to mind). Just think: Cheech and Chong, the cast of Dazed and Confused, Party Monster, The Darjeeling Limited, and other stoner classics, and musicians of all sorts from Willy Nelson to Bob Marley. Bottom line: young ladies don’t do drugs, and stoner culture is for bros.
Above: Ferreira modelling for the Saint Laurent Pre-Fall 2013 lookbook
I’m not saying drugs are inherently good or okay by any means, but you can’t deny the double standard. For Ferreira and the fashion world especially, you see how a young woman is apparently going to be missing out on making money and will be losing contracts from her affiliated designers for her so-called ‘youthful’ and ‘foolish’ actions. Furthermore, figures like her are lampooned for already representing what many assume to be an unhealthy lifestyle (i.e., all models all anorexic, etc)–adding drugs to the mix certainly throws her name into question. Let’s keep in mind, however, that Ferreira was not on the clock when she got caught with the drugs. If she had shown up to a photoshoot and was throwing ecstasy around like it was confetti, I can see how that might reflect poorly on her professional reputation–but that never happened.
All this is ridiculous considering the fashion designers who might be shunning her now are no angels themselves, being guilty of everything including rampant racism, virulent sexism, fat-oppression, cultural appropriation, elitism, even Nazism, and they are still applauded and worshipped. Compared to this, so what if Ferreira is caught with some ecstasy? As Lynn Crosbie points out in “Return of the Comeback” in the December 2013 issue of Fashion:
Even though the whole stupid point of making stupid money and being famous is–among other things–to forget to wear panties, drink to excess and hit everything in sight, celebrity roués are constantly scrutinized with a hybrid prurient and and puritanical gaze that demands they never stop showing skin, and be damned while they do it.
I also really want to resist the “but she’s a role model” argument in connection to Ferreira and others who are or have been in her boat like Moss. As Tracy Moore has recently pointed out in her article on Jezebel, “Stop Hailing Women as Good or Bad Role Models,”
One group of women’s perfect role model is another group’s batshit weirdo, so could we please stop christening women good or bad role models as if there is any one such thing? Also, it’s just a backdoor way to slut-shame/police behavior. Own it! It’s just another version of the same game of trying to pin what women do — famous or otherwise — into a neat little box of an appropriate use of their brains, talents and bodies that we’d like our girls to emulate.
To prove that young women (and women in general) know what they’re talking about and not these soft little creatures we need to be hypervigilant, protective, and wilfully ignorant of, I turn, as always in times of crisis, to Rookie. As is well-established, Tavi & Co. know their sh!t–they interviewed Ferreira last February. And if Rookie is okay with Ferreira, so am I–drugs and all.