Long before Kate Moss was the cocaine-snorting mother of one who continues to grace various fashion magazines, she was the underage nymph clutching muscle-y men with her top off. And two decades later, Kate is telling Vanity Fair that such adult demands of her as a teenager jacked her up. Imagine that.
Kate tells the publication that she suffered intense bouts of anxiety and sobbing when doing the famous 1992 Calvin Klein shoot that launched her career:
“I had a nervous breakdown when I was 17 or 18, when I had to go and work with Marky Mark and Herb Ritts,” she says. “It didn’t feel like me at all. I felt really bad about straddling this buff guy. I didn’t like it. I couldn’t get out of bed for two weeks. I thought I was going to die. I went to the doctor, and he said, ‘I’ll give you some Valium,’ and Francesca Sorrenti, thank God, said, ‘You’re not taking that.’ It was just anxiety. Nobody takes care of you mentally. There’s a massive pressure to do what you have to do. I was really little, and I was going to work with Steven Meisel. It was just really weird—a stretch limo coming to pick you up from work. I didn’t like it. But it was work, and I had to do it.”
Other shoots demanded the minor to strip down as well, including a photograph with Corinne Day for The Face. Unsurprisingly, the teenager was a little bashful about taking off her clothes for grownups:
“I see a 16-year-old now, and to ask her to take her clothes off would feel really weird. But they were like, If you don’t do it, then we’re not going to book you again. So I’d lock myself in the toilet and cry and then come out and do it. I never felt very comfortable about it. There’s a lot of boobs. I hated my boobs! Because I was flat-chested. And I had a big mole on one. That picture of me running down the beach—I’ll never forget doing that, because I made the hairdresser, who was the only man on the shoot, turn his back.”
It’s pretty far from shocking that asking young girls to project a very adult — and contrived — sexuality can saddle them with way more than a case of the giggles. It’s equally problematic that doctors assigned to the teen offered prescription drugs as the solution to her ailments. Premature sexuality mixed with valiums sounds like all the makings for a — well — Kate Moss.
But the conditions under which baby Kate worked are by no means a relic of the early 90s. Underage ladies are still being pressured to go nude, engage in adult behavior, and otherwise be exploited in an industry that refuses to acknowledge the fact that they are children. Unfortunately, Kate’s story is one of only a handful brought to our attention.