Empowering Every Woman to be Beautiful

Female Hate Sessions

On a spring afternoon in the late 90s, I was walking in New York's SoHo district en route to Next, my agency at the time. My new boyfriend, who later became my husband, was walking by my side.

A bus passed on Broadway showcasing the first shot I'd ever seen of Esther Canadas - chiseled facial features, dirty blond hair and the most intense glare I'd ever seen. "Oh my goodness!" I yelled out, pointing at the bus. "Look at that model. I would kill to do her makeup."

My guy said something like, "She's all right looking," and continued to munch on his falafel. As fate would have it, a week later I landed the DKNY account. Can you imagine my surprise when I walked in and saw the whispy blond with the intense stare sitting in the model room of DKNY's all white loft?

"You're the girl from the bus," I said like a school kid with a crush. "You're my new favorite model." Esther broke into a wide grin, caught off guard by my fan worship. "Thanks," she said, laughing a bit more.

Fast forward several months and we were almost roommates we were at DKNY so much. And working on Esther's face was so cool. No matter what I pulled out, my art didn't overshadowed this girl. I never heard, "Pull it back because now it's about the makeup." It was always about Esther.

One day when we were shooting for W Magazine at the flagship DKNY store on Madison Avenue, Esther turned to me during break and said, "Let's run over to Barney's to the lady's room." DKNY's store wasn't quite finished and we weren't sure what the bathroom situation was at that time.

In full DKNY glory (Esther & I used to get the clothes for free as a job perk), the two of us dashed across the street to Barney's. As soon as we hit the escalator, there was an eerie silence around us.

Women seemingly came out of the cracks to stare at Esther. Outdoor shoots usually elicited this reaction from men (like the time Christian Slater waved at Esther in Central Park and said, "It's YOU!"), but rarely did women more than do a side glance.

"She's not even that pretty in person," one woman commented - quite loudly.

"God, she's so emaciated," another one added.

"You know her lips aren't real," chimed in the woman walking up the escalator past us.

I glared at the haters. Esther glanced over at me with a nervous smile. This felt like it was about to become a beat down in the girl's high school gym. I could not believe a pack of rich, petty women would stop their shopping to insult a woman they didn't even know. Just because she was a model.

As we reached the top of the escalator and turned for the bathrooms, more women stopped to stare and turn up their noses. I finally couldn't stand it another moment. I turned to Esther and said (very loudly)
"I'm so sorry you have to witness this. It happens to me every time I go out in public."

Esther burst into laughter so hard I was sure we were going to get kicked out of the store. When we finally made it to the bathroom, unscathed, she simply said, "Thank you."

The pirrannas had dispersed and we seemed to be safe now. I just shook my head at the foolishness.

Why do women need to treat each other that way?