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The Real Skinny on Heidi's Book
on December 22, 2004
I found the reviews below a bit confusing, and when I'd finished reading them I was not at all sure I wanted this book. But I bought it in spite of reservations and I'm glad I did. The book is 200 pages long. About 50-60 pages are text. Of that text fewer than ten pages are by other people. So figure you get 50 pages of writing by HEIDI with her assistant Alexandra Postman. I don't mind the use of a writer. All writers need editors, and non-writers need a writer to help them get the point across - particularly in a second language. There are places in the writing where it is very clear that Heidi was writing, and others where it is clear that Alexandra was. Heidi has a distinct writing style - most people do - and I wish that had been preserved a bit more. That's why the one star off.
Now to the content. First let me say that I am a photographer, and have used models in my work for about as long as Heidi has been modeling. There is a lot of good advice on modeling in here. And plenty that an aspiring model should be aware of. Some is practicle "Be on time", "Watch your mood". This is stuff people can actually do, that helps a lot. Some of it is not advice but stuff want to be models really need to know: casting calls with 200 girls (sometimes many more), *thousands* of calls before you get a paying job - even if you look like HEIDI, in the first two years you pay to get tested, the price was $200 for her ten years ago, but the better photographers are charging $400+ these days. And you need to do this at least once a week, both to build your book, and most importantly to get experience in front of the camera. Finally there is the advice the book intends to give you, it's motivational and inspirational and involves deep aspects of a persons personality. This is the problem. Heidi is describing her own natural traits which make her the person and celebrity she is. Few people have her drive, ambition, and endless optimism. You can try and develop these traits to the extent you have them. But most people (especially 19 year old models struggling to make it in hyper-competitive New York) will be asking themselves "How do I make myself more optimistic?" Much of HEIDI's advice is like Kurt Vonnegut's "We are what we pretend to be, so we might as well get good at it". Which is good advice for a shoot. But for a young woman in the dark of night who's been shot down eight times that day with comments like "Hips to big", "Uuuhhh, look at that nose", "She'll never do", "No breasts!" pretending to be optimistic is not a realistic choice. I wonder if Heidi's been pretending for so long she no longer remembers what it's like not to be HEIDI, or not to pretend.
I still like her, she is still smart, funny, and likeable - even if that is a bit of a put on at times. There is plenty of material worth reading here. But you have to read closely. Because the value is not in the "8 rules of model behavior", it's in the real Heidi who squeaks out between the lines.