Victoria Beckham covers the December issue of Allure and, as it says right there on the cover, she is “all business”. That’s why she showed up – to pose for photos and, basically, to get two points across.
These were her talking points, this was the message she wanted to share in the feature:
“I’ve worked hard to get here, to be given that stamp of approval in Paris by the industry in both fashion and beauty, and you know what? That’s a tough thing to accomplish,” she says, clearly proud. “I have built two successful businesses. Fashion is now profitable, beauty is profitable.”
“I'm involved in every aspect of the business with both fashion and beauty. There’s not a single thing that goes out that I don't see.”
I believe her. I believe that she is her business and she deserves credit for building it. She should be proud of what she’s achieved with her brand – there were a lot of doubters, I may have been one of them. And the profitability thing is huge, because if you recall, the British tabloids were on her a few years ago about whether or not VB, the business, was making money, almost as though they were hoping it would fail. So I get it, I get why she’s here, why she’s doing this interview and what she wants to get out of it.
At the same time, that’s not quite the deal, is it? Or at least not the whole deal when you agree to cover a magazine and sit down for a profile. All she wants to do is pose for the photos and say those two things and get the f-ck out. But you can do that in a press release or a post on Instagram with a caption. The reason you work with the media is to make it feel less like a press release and the media is more often than not happy to dance this dance, and help promote whatever it is that you’re promoting but, like, unless you’re Beyoncé, lol, and VB is not Beyoncé, there’s more to the transaction than just giving two press release-style answers and calling it a day.
When both parties, the interviewee and the interviewer, understand how this game works? The result can be magic. We’ve read some wonderful celebrity profiles over the years that satisfy on every level – the audience learns something and the celebrity gets the publicity. When one of the participants in the game, however, doesn’t necessarily want to play, what you get is a profile like VB’s in Allure… which is basically a push and a pull. Danielle Pergament, the writer, is trying her best to find a way in, have a conversation with Victoria in which she actually says something that isn’t lifted from her press release, while Victoria just keeps the door closed.
After all, as Danielle points out, many times, Victoria is known for being a control freak, she is known for her discipline. She has spent years showing us one expression, tightly holding herself apart from the public, making sure that nothing in her appearance betrays what she might be thinking, who she really is.
This is understandable. She was bullied as a young girl and she was bullied as a Spice Girl and, as we saw in the Beckham docuseries, the media and the public, for many years, were so cruel, of course there is scar tissue, so much scar tissue. That scar tissue, then, is why Victoria has always seen herself as an underdog, why she still considers herself an underdog. And this is where she gets the most candid. It comes from the same place where, in the docuseries, she describes herself (even though her stage name was Posh!), as someone from a working class upbringing. Until David hilariously interrupts and gets her to admit that she was driven to school in a Rolls Royce.
But as Danielle illuminates, this is how Victoria sees herself.
“I’ve always had to work really hard,” Beckham continues. “At school, I had to work really hard to get less-than-average grades. When I was dancing and singing, I had to work really hard to be good, but was never good enough. I was an alright dancer. I was an alright singer. People were very quick to say, ‘You can’t sing.’ I can joke about it better than anybody. I’ll take the mickey out of myself.”
She deliberates, and then puts a bit of the mickey back. “I mean, obviously, I could sing a little. But I always had to work very hard just to be okay at anything.
She sees herself as being just “okay”. And when that’s your lens, if you think of yourself as average, then of course you’re going to be the best at holding on so tight to how you present yourself to the world, not because you want to show the best of yourself, but so that you make sure you never fall below average.
And that, really, becomes the framework of Danielle’s profile on Victoria. In observing how rigid she is, at least the public-facing version of her in these situations, the takeaway is that this is actually her greatest skill – Victoria’s now infamous determination to keep every hair in place, every muscle on her face locked in place. And sidestep any questions about aging.
Should she be asked about aging? Well… I mean… she’s almost 50 and this is a beauty magazine. And Victoria is giving almost nothing about beauty here except for the part where she says that David has never seen her without her brows. That’s the reach of her control – even her husband doesn’t get the unfiltered face.
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